Book Review – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tend to very much love Stephen King’s shorter works, and Gwendy’s Button Box is no exception. Set in King’s favorite setting of Castle Rock, Maine, this is a story about Gwendy, a young girl who is given a box covered in buttons by a man in a black coat and black bowler hat. The box improves her life drastically, but, as she learns soon after receiving it, the box comes with a price.

What I love about this story is that it is about making mistakes in youth, and making choices as an adult. Through our mistakes and choices, we all find out what is important in life; what we love and what we want to avoid; what we know is best for ourselves. Through Gwendy, King and co-author Richard Chizmar show how such mistakes and choices can affect life, albeit with help from a box bent on destruction. It is definitely a coming-of-age story; a horrific one.

The only thing I would criticize would be the illustrations by Keith Minnion included in this edition. There were not enough of them, and, to be honest, I wasn’t too fond of them. If there had been more I might have appreciated them more.

While this book didn’t scare me, I can tell you right now that if a man in a black coat and black bowler hat came up to me offering a box covered in colorful buttons, I would refuse to take it.

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Book Review – Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short novel of Stephen King’s was a fun and chilling read. Very easy to get through due to the pacing of the story and entertainment factor, I read Cycle of the Werewolf in about two hours. The story shows a view of how a town might react to the arrival of a murderous werewolf and, in my personal opinion, King got most of it pretty realistic. There are two big reactions to a kind of upset like a werewolf: everyone going completely ballistic, or, as in this novel, everyone doing absolutely nothing until a child takes matters into their own hands.

The illustrations by Bernie Wrightson perfectly captured the grim atmosphere of King’s narration, though I have one criticism (this would mainly be for the editors): a lot of the illustrations were placed a bit too early in the text, and so the reader would know what would happen in the plot based on the picture before the written event ever actually happened.

I recommend this book to those who want a short and chilling read. The gloominess of the art and the fact that the book starts and ends with snow makes it a perfect winter read.

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Book Review-The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have not been into a book as much as I have been into The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon for a long time. In this novel, 9-year-old Trisha strays from the path and gets lost in the woods, encountering challenges the woods brings her, whether real or not.

As a lover of survival video games, this novel was utterly compelling. The way King writes Trisha’s character has the reader relating to her so much that it’s almost as if the reader and Trisha are one in the decisions that she makes, the fears that she feels, and wondering constantly if this whole thing isn’t just in her head. In the end, both the reader and Trisha find out that the difference between reality and dreams does not matter when you are lost.
The visual descriptions that King provides are so vivid I could imagine myself right in the forest with Trisha.

A big theme in this book is decisions. Not only the decisions Trisha must make during her long trek in the woods, but also the decisions of those who have lost and are looking for her: her mother’s and brother’s decisions of being so stubborn that they push Trisha away; her father’s decision to manipulate in his own way; and so on. It is a wonderful take on humanity – decisions are what define us, make us selfish like Trisha’s parents, or even point us further away from our goals, like Trisha strayed from the path in the woods. In the end, we must make the decisions that will make us stronger, and Trisha does just this.

Overall, I have struggled to put down The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon throughout my read of it. I recommend this novel to anyone who feels lost, and who wants a good thriller.

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Book Review – Six Scary Stories by Stephen King et al

Six Scary Stories

Six Scary Stories by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen King would know exactly which stories would make the reader absolutely chilled to the bone, and these six are no exception. These stories, each written by a different and talented writer, kept me on the edge of my seat, and I could feel my heart pounding.

“Wild Swimming”, the first story by Elodie Harper, is the perfect story for illustrating the complete uneasiness one feels in a ghost town. There is the sense someone is watching constantly, some part of history (usually a grisly history) peeking out of the shadows to those coming to learn its secrets.

“Eau-de-Eric” by Manuela Saragosa is one of those stories that is themed around living dolls, or rather in this case, living teddy bears. Being a parent in such a situation, knowing that some supernatural, or preternatural, power has more control than you do is horrifying. Even more horrifying is when the child is in on it – and we all know how perceptive children can be.
My only real criticism for this story is that I would have liked to see more about the relationship between the father (i.e. the bear) and the child.

“The Spots” by Paul Bassett Davies was not my favorite story of the bunch, but it gave me chills nonetheless. For some reason I have issues with horrors and thrillers that centre around a fascist state. However, the theme of this story, the leopard’s spots, was very clever symbolism. Here you have a man working for a person he calls “Leader”, who has him trying to count the spots on a hungry leopard, all in vain. The man has conflicted feelings towards the end of the story, making him the leopard whose spots he is trying to count.

“The Unpicking” by Michael Button was beyond disturbing. Think Toy Story meets Lord of the Flies. I will not say too much about this story, except that I will now be very wary of what happens with the inanimate inhabitants of my room at night.

“La Mort de L’Amant” by Stuart Johnstone also did not impress me as much. Though one can’t help but be disturbed when encountering a suicidal man on a bridge who says “everything’s fine!” with a smile on his face.

And lastly “The Bear Trap” by Neil Hudson felt the most like something Stephen King would write. Hudson based elements of the characters on the characters from Calvin and Hobbes – the protagonist of this story being named Calvin. This story is what Calvin and Hobbes would look like in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Overall an intense and enjoyable read. Would recommend to anyone who likes a good chill up their spine.

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