Duma Key by Stephen King

Before I begin, I must unequivocally state that I’M YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN, MR. KING — yeah, that’s right, I was reading Stephen King novels while some of you were still struggling to comprehend the plot developments of Goodnight Moon, so no matter what I write next, just remember I’M YOUR HARDCORE NUMBER ONE FAN, MR. KING, and with that said, I’ll move to Duma Key.  Most of Stephen King’s Number One Fans already know that our hero Edgar Freemantle was in a horrible construction accident that severed his arm, damaged his brain, and destroyed his marriage.  On the plus side, Edgar happens to be filthy rich and can afford to get away from his demons by renting a beach house on a little isle called Duma Key where he discovers his hitherto unknown artistic talent.  Enter weirdness through the paint canvas as the ether world and a host of memorable characters begin to play their roles.  However (ah, but for the inevitable “but”) something was missing for me.

Mr. King’s earlier novels were written with the stacatto beat of heavy metal but now move with the fluidity of a symphony, and though I love the way he’s always seeking new ways to work with words, Duma Key was a little too neat.  I never felt the tenseness or the terror in Duma Key that I loved in his earlier novels, ‘Salem’s Lot, for example, which I still read with one eye gauging the shadows of my room.  Everyone in Duma Key knows something strange is happening, and they’re all just a little too agreeable to help curb the evil.  (Well, gosh darn, Willie, I reckon there’s a ghost out there.  Well, by golly, Bob, let’s go out and kick some spectral tushy; you get the flashlight and I’ll grab the thermos!)  A good contrast would be ‘Salem’s Lot, which was so horrific because no one in the town wanted to admit there was something wicked in their way; they were all too busy hiding under their beds.  I found Duma Key to be very well written, albeit a little too long for my tastes, but like all of Stephen King’s novels, great comfort food for the brain!

My Rating: 

2 thoughts on “Duma Key by Stephen King

  1. Well. I think back to fourth grade and the first time i read the dark half. I prolly didnt get much of it then but it was such a massive volume and i wanted to put that big notch on my belt. It terrified me in so many ways. Fast forward many years later and yet another massive king volume. It obviously didnt hit me as hard as his old stories. The story though clearly well written lacks the heavy dark that always drew me to King. You have definitely got the music analoge right on. I think for me its all about his age and own proximity to death that have changed what is scary to him. At any rate i’ll take whatever he throws and welcome it openly in hopes for one more dark masterpiece and weather the heart-fears he gives us along the way.

  2. Thanks for posting, Devlin, and yes, being somewhat long of tooth she self, the Dragon understands what you’re saying about shifting priorities as age creeps us ever closer to our inevitable demise. However, death is not so fearsome as the picture of everyday people forced to face those things that lurk outside the visible spectrum, terrors great and small that tighten the sphincter and stop the heart, facing a visceral beat with no discernable explanation, this is horror. That is what made King’s earlier works so frightening, not so much darkness of the soul, but darkness manifest and temporal, here and now, ready to be challenged and fought not by God or angels, but by puny humans whose only power is the good within themselves. I love the way he is unafraid to try new concepts and writing styles, always seeking ways to grow as an author, but like you, I hope he finds his way back to that dark world where evil rocks and the heroes roll. And we all sleep with the lights on once more . . .

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