Carrion Comfort

When you read an 800 page book, sometimes it truly feels like an 800 page book. On and on and on, plodding and dull. I’m happy to report this was most definitely not one of those books. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to fly through this one. For the 2017 book challenge, I had to read an 800 pager, and this one had been on my list for awhile after Stephen King said this is one of the greatest horror novels of the 20th century. If that doesn’t convince you to read it, maybe I can just sway you a bit.

When I first read the blurb and saw the word vampire, I just sighed to myself and thought “ugh” because I am SO over vampires. And even though I just read The Historian (review The Historian) which is about tracking a vampire, it’s really not a vampire book. Same with The Passage series. Vampires play a role, but they don’t dominate the plot. Well, vampires are the entire plot of this one. Hear me out, though. These aren’t your traditional blood sucking creatures of the night. These vampires can control your mind. I know it sounds cheesy, but I promise it is terrifying.

The story follows a handful of these vampires and the people who are trying to track and kill them. The vampires can simply enter your mind and control your body. Your will is gone. You have no ability to resist. They use you as a toy. After some innocent people are killed in a suspicious way, a small group of everyday people uncover the truth of these vampires and vow to take them down. As the chase progresses, they gain a few more helpers and lose some along the way. But the vampires and their soulless acts are what really make this story horrifying. They have no problem using and destroying people for their fun and games.

I have read much more graphic books like The Troop (also recommended by SK), but this one was wholly terrifying. Yes, it could be descriptive in parts, but overall it was just so creepy what some people are capable of. Of course, these mind control people don’t exist, but their ability to kill with no conscience isn’t unique to fiction.

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IT

I read this book over a decade ago and didn’t remember much, aside from the vivid memories I have of the miniseries, all hail Tim Curry. So with the upcoming movie, I wanted to revisit the book this year. And for the 2017 book challenge update, I needed a book set in two different time periods, so this book fit perfectly.

The story takes place in Derry, Maine (of course) and follows 7 kids, AKA The Losers’ Club, and one summer in their lives. Kids keep disappearing, including Georgie Denbrough, brother of one of the Losers, Bill. Slowly, the kids discover they have all been seeing a terrifying entity, a clown, werewolf, leper, etc and that something strange is happening in Derry. One of them, Mike, does some research into Derry’s history and realizes random disappearances and murders happen every 27 years, and have been happening for over a hundred years. They take it upon themselves to kill IT, as it comes to be known.

Interspersed with the childhood stories, we also see these Losers as adults. Because they vow to return to Derry if ever IT returns (no spoilers…this happens in the first few pages), they will get back together to rid the world of IT once and for all. However, since they have left Derry, they don’t remember their childhoods there or each other, even. Mike has stayed behind and does remember, so he has the job of gathering the Losers again. Once the Losers return to Derry, their memories begin to unlock.

This is such a basic synopsis for an 1100+ page book. King really does lead you down some terrifying paths of childhood trauma, horrifying events, and the power of friendship. There’s no way to capture all of these in one review. I’ve read more than half of his books, and this one is easily one of his best. He definitely has some duds in the bunch, but IT is worth reading.

I also saw the movie. It’s not like the book, understandably. There are some big changes between them, and I really was disappointed in them. But, overall, I’m glad the book was translated to the big screen. Maybe more people will read the book now.

The Troop

I apologize for the delay in posting. I’ve been doing a bit of beta reading. Side note- if anyone needs a beta reader, please contact me!

It is no secret that I love Stephen King. He’s just one of the greatest writers and I think doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he’s mostly known for being a horror writer. But he is so much more than that. He’s truly a master storyteller. So, when he recommends books, I make a note to read them at some point. For the 2017 book challenge, I had to read a book recommended by an author you love, so this was an easy category. I already had The Troop on my Kindle and just hadn’t gotten to it, yet. I have previously read another of Nick Cutter’s books, The Deep, and really enjoyed that one, so I was looking forward to another one.

Hoooo boy, this one was pretty intense. And gross. Like really gross, by my standards. I still liked it, but the grossness was a bit of a turn off. This is a personal preference, though. It says nothing about his writing or storytelling. The basic plot is that a troop of 14 year old Boy Scouts (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is…I forget exactly the specifics) and their Scoutmaster have gone camping on a deserted island just off Prince Edward Island when a sick guy in a boat comes along. The guy smashes their radio and the boat he came on no longer works. It’s clear the man is dying, and conveniently, the Scoutmaster is a doctor, but he can’t figure out what is wrong. As the story progresses, you get answers as to what the illness is, and unfortunately, how it spreads from person to person. Yep. It’s rough.

The boys (5 of them) have their own demons to face (one’s an asshole, one’s overweight, etc) which play into the dynamics of the situation. This book was reminiscent of The Long Walk (by SK under the Bachman name) where you wonder which one(s) will make it alive. It’s pretty clear from the onset that not everyone makes it home from the island. The story is also told after the event is over from the perspective of media reports, interviews, etc. These small bits are interspersed in the chapters.

But, like I said, you’ve been warned that this book is pretty gross in parts. I don’t want to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but if you are the least bit squeamish about the human body and illness, it might behoove you to avoid this one. I’ve read worse, yes, but I do want to just let you know.

Overall, I enjoyed Cutter’s other book, The Deep, more. That shouldn’t detract from this book though. It’s a great read. I truly couldn’t put it down, wondering who survives and just how horrific the story was going to get.

Pet Sematary

I’ve read over half of Stephen King’s works and this was one of the several I hadn’t read. For the 2017 book challenge, I needed a book with a cat on the cover. I started The Master and Margarita, but after 100 pages, I was completely bored. So I hit the bookshelf looking at one cover after another and found our old hardback of Pet Sematary with an evil looking cat on the cover. Problem solved.

Back when I was teaching, a student loaned me his copy of the PS movie and told me I absolutely had to watch it because it was the best movie ever. Helpful note: it’s not the best movie ever. One of the worst, really. But because I had seen the movie, I knew the basic plot of the book. A family moves to Maine, comes across a Pet Semetary, but behind that is a Native American burial ground where magical things happen. It takes at least 200 pages for the big crazy stuff to start truly happening. However, like I’ve said before, SK is a master storyteller, so I was always entertained, even if nothing was really going on.

I wouldn’t say this is one of his best works, but it’s certainly not the worst. I appreciated the creativity of the story, how he so accurately described what it is like to be a parent, and the well explained history of the town. But if you are new to SK, don’t start with this one. I would select one of his more well known works like The Shining or It (especially with the movie coming up, eek!)

Lisey’s Story

It’s no lie that I love Stephen King. He is easily one of my favorite authors. I’m slowly working my way through books of his that I have never read, and one day, I will read everything he wrote in order. We are working on getting all his books in hardback, as well. I’m always excited to read one of his books, especially one that I know nothing about, like Lisey’s Story. I needed a book with a character’s name in the title, and I’ve had this book on my Kindle for awhile, so two birds, one stone.

Lisey was widowed two years ago and is still struggling. Her husband was prize-winning novelist with a vast number of secrets. I really don’t want to give too much away, because King masterfully reveals these secrets along the way, but let’s just say that there’s more to her husband that you would think. And although this book isn’t one of King’s true horror books, some unsettling things happen, but this one is pretty mild on the terror list. What it does provide is a wonderful example of woman empowerment. Lisey (real name is Lisa. Lisey rhymes with CeCe) has to solve a lot of problems in her life, from her sister’s destructive behavior to the man stalking her, demanding her late husband’s unpublished manuscripts.

The story is truly about the love between a husband and wife, albeit an usual one, considering the author. But Scott and Lisey love one another no matter what. Their story is very sweet and all-encompassing without losing themselves and their individual place in the world. Lisey is just a women, referred to as Scott’s “gal pal” at times, even, but her place in Scott’s life is solid and endures all trials. This is what I loved best about the book. No matter what craziness (oh and it is so very crazy) happens, they stick together.

Under the Dome

Still working on two long books (one done in a couple days, I think) so here’s an older review.

Finally getting around to writing my thoughts on this book. This is easily my second favorite King book, after The Stand. *side note- After reading The Dark Tower, this is nowhere near my second favorite SK book* Had it been summertime, I could have finished this book in a few days. Damn teaching job gets in the way of my fun reading! =)
King has certainly evolved as a writer, which is something I truly appreciate about him. As terrifying as this book was, it was nowhere near a horror story, like the majority of his books. Like The Stand, it’s just a battle of good vs. evil. None of the people in the town have superpowers, or go crazy, or have rabid dogs. It’s just good people trying to win and protect the town vs. the bad people trying to run the town.

One day, a “dome” slaps down around the town of Chester’s Mill. This impenetrable structure follows the shape of the town exactly. Interestingly, the town can see and communicate with the outside world. They get a kick out of seeing themselves on CNN. The military asks one of their own inside the dome to investigate. They have no idea where this dome came from and suspect it was created from inside the town. They just have no other explanation. To protect a dirty secret, the bad guys of the town take control quickly, and spare no expenses in the destruction of the police, the businesses, and the citizens themselves. As wretched as these people are, King at least gives a fairly plausible reason as to their actions. They didn’t just “go crazy” and start killing their families…..

What’s interesting about this book is the big battle. Which side are people going to be on? The quiet underdog or the boisterous bully who vows to protect the town in times of terrorism. In today’s world it’s hard not to stand with those that protect. Perfectly, the biggest baddie is a used car salesman, and it’s quite entertaining to watch him work his persuasive magic on those around him.

Of course, this is still Stephen King, so there are many casualties, and he does a great job of hinting there will be many more to come throughout the book. I realize this is a long book. But, I truly thought it was worth it. One of the best I’ve read in a long time!

The Dark Tower

I finished. It took me two years. But I finished. And it was worth every minute. Again, I’m a huge Stephen King fan, so it was crazy that I had never read his series, which many consider one of his best works. The Stand being the other one, which I have read and loved. I am going to try to do this book and series justice, however, the best I can do is urge you to read it.

The final book picks up right were book six Song of Susannah leaves us. There are various plotlines while our ka-tet is separated. And obviously, no spoilers because if you’ve come this far, I don’t want to ruin anything for you. However, it’s been hinted at for a couple books that Stephen King makes an appearance in the series. He does, and it’s really clever. I was very suspicious about how successful this would be, but I loved it.

Many people complain about King’s endings. Some of his books end much weaker than others, like Revival and Under the Dome. And I will say there is one aspect of the ending to the series that I didn’t care for. However, this book has an Epilogue and a Coda, and I really liked what happened in both of those. It’s no secret that King loves the battle between good and evil. And, considering the entire series was inspired by this poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, King definitely used many of the concepts loosely in this book, down to the last two lines.

I know King’s writing isn’t for everyone. However, let me say that this really isn’t like anything he’s written. There are some shocking and horrifying things that happen, but it is definitely not graphic horror, or even really suspenseful or scary.

If you consider all his works in a graphic, I would put this in the middle with his other works branching off of it. Many of his other novels are connected to this one by events or characters. There is a lot of overlap between the series and ‘Salem’s Lot and Insomnia. The nemesis in this series is also in The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon. The list of connections goes on and on. But this series is the backbone of his entire bibliography.

And it is worth every minute you spend in Mid-World. Long days and pleasant nights.