The Storm of the Century – Stephen King

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“The Storm of the Century” by Stephen King didn’t come to life as a novel, it ended up being a screenplay for TV miniseries and then it was published as a book. Nevertheless, it is another quite atmospheric novel that keeps you turning pages as fast as you can read, until you can finally unravel the mysterious twist or a character’s intentions.
In this title that mysterious character is Andre Linoge who arrives to a small island of Little Tall, in Maine when the inhabitants are preparing themselves for the coming of winter storm that was branded by meteorologists as a storm of the century.
As the first snowflakes touch the ground, Andre arrives and brutally murders one of the oldest citizens of the town, Martha. He then calmly sits in an armchair, holding his walking stick, embroider with a silver head of a wolf, that is covered in blood…
Andre allows the town’s sheriff to arrest him but that doesn’t stop more and more dead bodies being reported as the town goes into a bit of panic, as some citizens brand Andre a pure evil, something from out of this world due to the latest victims appearing to be unexplained suicides blamed on the arrival of our antagonist.
Quickly it turns out that Andre knows everyone’s sins and secrets, eventually implying  that everyone will die in the end unless the people give the stranger what he had come here for…
What is it though and are the people happy to give it up? Will the people of Little Tall co-operate or will they try to face the now obvious evil force that came into their lives to reveal their secrets that were hidden deep underneath…?
I had not heard about “The Storm of the Century” until I actually came across the TV series. I wasn’t keen on watching it since I hadn’t read the story but eventually I decided to give it a watch and never really managed to finish. Instead I eventually read the book and I didn’t regret finding out the solution to the mystery this way.
Enjoy!

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Bag of Bones – Stephen King

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The cover of the edition of “Bag of Bones” by Stephen King caught my eye straight away and there was something about it that was promising a good reading session. How mistaken I was… The reading was spectacular and to this point in my life, when I think of the book, I can not decide whether it made me more scared or more sad. I know I felt both, scared and incredibly sad but there were times that I felt really scared and there were times when the sadness was taking over every heart beat in my body…
Michael Noonan is a well known and very popular book writer. One day he is faced with a huge and surprising tragedy. His wife suddenly dies leaving Michael devastated and absolutely shattered emotionally that eventually leads him to struggle with his writing skills and facing nights full of nightmares.
As Michael becomes tired of hiding his true feelings and ensuring everyone around he is fine he decides to visit his and his wife, Jo, summer house named “Sarah’s Laugh”, given the fact some of the nightmares are about the lake house he feels it is the best way to try to shake of the nightmares of his recent tragedy.
After arrival he quickly meets Mattie and Mattie’s daughter Kyra. They both are troubled by Kyra’s grandad, Max, a multimillionaire who tries take the full custody of Kyra since Mattie became a widow. Michael tries to help them but it doesn’t appear easy as the whole neighbourhood seems to be bothered by some supernatural occurrences that are looking like these are linked to Michael, Mattie, Max and rest of the inhabitants of the little town.
Michael is driven to start investigating this whole strange happenings and soon he finds out that relatives of people of the town from a century ago, were involved in some brutal murder that caused the paranormal activity and as it appears it could also have an influence on his wife’s death.
Michael will be faced with a huge task of trying to help the living and the dead inhabitants of that small town to avoid a horrible and scary face off with some powerful and terrifying forces that slowly are poisoning the minds of the people.
In “Bag of Bones” Stephen King really takes his time to build up an element of dread and fear and it takes nearly a whole story for it to peak, but once all the cards are on the table one is glad they stuck with the slow developing story and quite surprised at the outcome of the action.
As I mentioned earlier I can’t decided whether there is more sadness factor in the story or a horror one but the book definitely doesn’t leave fans of horrors disappointed.

Insomnia – Stephen King

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Since I was a young lad sleep eluded me for many reasons, so when I saw “Insomnia” by Stephen King I was really interested in seeing what this book was going to be about and how much about the sleepless hours the author going to write.
For those who never had sleep problems the story might appear a tad boring and lifeless as it starts off really slowly with us meeting Ralph, an old man who lost his wife over a month ago and since then started experiencing sleep problems. Well… Ralph’s main problem is the waking up as each day he wakes up a bit earlier than the day before.
The lack of sleep begins to affect Ralph both physically and mentally. He is loosing weight, looking really pale and tired and he is also becoming forgetful about little things and then the matters he had dealt with for a long time on continuous basis. Old age some may say…
When it all starts to be too much for realms of an old age issue is when Ralph starts to notice other people’s auras. Some are brighter, some darker. As the time goes by Ralph starts to notice more and more around these auras and he realises he starts to notice more about the people themselves as well as he notices a strange entities that accompany the deaths of his friends…
As we endure Ralph’s issues that become more and more bothersome there is also an background story developing where it involves the people of the town of Derry when a brand new clinic opened recently causing a bit of stir in the community.
People became restless as the clinic is very modern in thinking and one of the procedures it offers is an abortion. Pro-life supporters get very involved in the matter causing all the recent disturbances and the leader of the organisation, who is a committed criminal and who abused his own family in the past becomes a central part of the story.
The leader appears very aggressive and mentally unstable and he plans to destroy the clinic and all people in there. The only way to stop him from doing that, lies in hands of a small boy who stays at the clinic. In his hands rest the peace of the town and perhaps the whole world.
Only tired and old Ralph realises, thanks to his recently acquired talents, that the boy is special and he can stop the maniac but will Ralph be able to act…?
“Insomnia” reads slowly and for me it was a great read for several lazy afternoons and evenings. I must admit I didn’t feel very attached to Ralph despite his sleeping problems but nevertheless his character was created well and the story itself was intriguing, enjoyable and well worth the time spent with, so another thumbs up towards Mr. King.

Gerald’s Game – Stephen King

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I am not sure how “Gerald’s Game” by Stephen King ended up in my hands but I remember that I needed only to read the first page and the atmosphere of King’s worlds was already spilling all over me and I knew I was lost to the world without a shadow of a doubt until I’d turn the last page.
So was Jessie. At least to a certain point but let’s start from a different point of the story before Jessie appears to be lost.  Jessie is married to Gerald and their monotonous life style slowly starts to affect their quality of life until Gerald decides to spice things up in their bedroom by coming up with more and more exotic gadgets and games aimed at improving their sex life.
Jessie enjoys the change initially but slowly something starts to change within her and she becomes more resentful. One day, as the couple decides to visit their lake house out of the season for a bit of privacy, Gerald plans something extraordinary while Jessie comes to conclusion she had enough and she’ll do what she can to avoid having sex with her husband.
Matters don’t work out quite well for Jessie as Gerald’s idea of fun that day was to handcuff his wife to bed. As she lies there naked and determined not to have sex with Gerald, he suddenly drops dead on the floor. Heart attack.
Jessie’s relief last only a moment until she realises that the keys to handcuff are way out of her reach and there is no one around that could rescue her as the holiday’s season had finished. She is unable to reach for any cloths, food or water and she’s just there. Naked, handcuffed to the bed.
As the fear grows inside of her and as the daylight slowly fades away Jessie, still stuck in bed starts to realise all she has to wait for is the slow death as she has nothing to eat, nothing to drink… She has a head full of memories from her life, including a series of events from thirty years ago that occurred during the Sun’s eclipse, that possibly led her to this very place. A head full of “what ifs” as her imagination starts playing games with her and the fact she is all alone and naked in the middle of nowhere…
Is she alone though?? And if she’s not, would she prefer to be alone if she was to be faced with whomever there might be…?
As boring as the concept of “Gerald’s Game” might be, the story of a woman that is stuck to bed for long hours turns into a very interesting and nail biting idea with the story from 30 years ago making it for a decent background of what had led Jessie to the place where she is now…
The novel reads well, despite some lengthy and a bit unnecessary descriptions that King sometimes can lose himself within. The end is as always surprising and leaves the reader feeling glad that they “are back to reality”.

The Dark Half – Stephen King

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“The Dark Half” was recommended to me by someone who didn’t remember the name of the author and didn’t know I liked Stephen King’s work so it was a double surprise to me when the book finally landed, in my hungry of touch of paper fingers and it was a great and exciting relation I formed with the story and the main protagonist.
We meet Tad Beaumont who is a writer who wrote a great novel which earned him recognition of critics and readers across the world along with plenty of awards. Tad has a problem though, as no one seems to be interested in his second book as it appears the genius he showed in his first title burnt out or never really was there.
To check his writing skills and to continue to write Tad becomes George Stark, a writer of thriller books that with time become somewhat popular. The problem is that not many people know that Beaumont and Stark are the same person and our protagonist wants to keep the matters that way.
One day Tad/George’s peace is broken by a mysterious man who starts blackmailing our troubled writer and since Tad appears powerless in the situation he decides to orchestrate murder of his alter ego with a help of those who know about his secret. So George Starks dies and matters settle. For a while…
As the story continues it appears that everyone who knows the secret of the writer is found dead one by one and the only clues available lead towards… the grave of the thriller writer. And it is best to leave it here like this.
For those interested in reading “The Dark Half” by Stephen King I can’t recommend this book enough. It isn’t one of King’s biggest, most known titles but the story is really intriguing, the people created in the book are well constructed and the whole atmosphere makes for a brilliant read, especially during long windy nights when one might wonder if they know one or two things too many.

The Long Walk – Stephen King

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Being that odd “fan” of the whole World going to hell and us, survivors trying to get it right this time, “The Long Walk” had the right ring to me and I couldn’t miss another story that Stephen King originally published under his Bachman persona.
Hundred of boys takes part in a yearly walk that will bring them fame and their dream prize. There can be only one winner and the finish line is there where there is only last boy standing. Alive. Hey it’s the whole story in one paragraph.
Matters are not that simple though. I grew to expect some heavy thinking when reaching for “Bachman’s” books as there are few titles where Stephen Kings presents us with big questions about us, the humanity and the direction we are heading. It’s no different with this story.
The idea of boys just walking until there is one left alive makes you ask the reasons why the young lads with whole lives ahead of them would want to take part in this fairly suicidal challenge. Are they frustrated, trying to prove the point? Or perhaps there are always some hundred boys that simply don’t mind playing with their lives. We don’t really know it and that’s not the most important point. Valid one yes but not the biggest.
The boys are being followed by the military staff willing to bring order to the walking group at a sight of the finest rebellion or lack of compliance. Every town the group is passing is eagerly awaiting the walking group with hope for some action and hopefully blood.
The plot of this story is a metaphor of our society, lives, the general direction of where we came from and where we head towards. The walking competition and the blood hungry spectators are vision of our near future which King doesn’t let us forget about, no matter how hard we might try he keeps on coming with quotes that make you feel low and brings you back right in front of the miserable sight we have in front us.
We, as a society became hungry for thrill and movies, books, games are just not enough anymore hence the need for such competition to take place so we can feed of misery of others, we can feed our hunger of sight of blood by following the young boys who head towards sure death.
The World depicted in “The Long Walk” is the World where one would rather want to see someone die to satisfy one’s need for thrill rather than try to help, rescue the ones that are about to drop out of the… race.
I mean I can’t stress enough how low and sad the book made me feel and how ordinary and usual it all appears there but King manages to scare the hell out of us without using monsters, ghosts, paranormal stuff. He just shows us what he sees through his window and it’s so scary as hell.

The Running Man – Stephen King

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I had seen the film that was based on “The Running Man” by Stephen King (he wrote it under the Bachman pseudonym) with Arnold S. as the main character and I think it is the classic example of how little content and thought a film can take from a reading piece like a book, novel, or essay. I don’t mean to bash movies but I’ve always assumed it must be incredibly hard to create a movie that is as engaging as a book and this title is a perfect example of how hard it is.
The book was written in early eighties, and now over 30 years after its release it is scary and really creepy to realise how close to the depicted in the novel society we had become. One might wonder if King managed to figure out time travel.
It is 2025, Ben Richards lives with his wife and an ill kid in poverty in slums of an American city. As his desperation due to living standards and lack of resources to get medication grows he decides to take part in a TV show which is organised by big corporate business Free Vee.
The Free Vee receivers are freely available and are in every household of American families. Whole nation follows the live programs that are transmitted 24/7, mainly consisting of the show where the main prize is human life.
A player escapes, moving through the world, from trained head hunters. If he survives for a month, he wins the main prize; a million of new dollars. A player can also earn bonuses for killing his head hunters and coppers, but anyone who watches the show can win some prizes by providing whereabouts of the player making the players life that little bit harder.
The novel is journal of Ben’s travels, from the moment he leaves his home, through series of preliminary tests, eliminations and finally his encounters he faces during The Running Man show and finally the end of it all.
The book is characterised by a speedy action where one keeps on constantly looking behind their backs. “The Running Man” describes the dirty, pessimistic picture of America of XXI century, where an individual can feel completely cornered and trapped by the sick need of society’s desire to experience someone’s pain and struggle and by the never dying greed of individuals hungry for a bit of fame or some silver or gold.
Given the fact we now have so many live shows following people in their “daily lives” it is kind of scary realising that King wrote this title over 30 years ago. If you saw the movie and it didn’t really tick your boxes, don’t give up on the book as it is so much more and so much deeper than what the film was able to represent. It goes beyond Ben’s struggles in the show. It hits you right in your gut when you realise you could be next or you are already one … taking part by sticking to the glass screen to find out who wins in the end. If winning is an option after all.

Thinner – Stephen King

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I found “Thinner” to be a great and a climatic read. It is something a bit out of Stephen King’s character and perhaps that’s why it read so great for me. I had already known he released under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman so it wasn’t a miraculous discovery but still, the book and the characters drawn in the story left some sort of mark on me.
We meet Billy who is an awfully successful lawyer with everything one could dream. His only problem is that he ius overweight. Or so he thinks…
One day Billy runs over a gypsy lady who in turn loses her life. Billy ends up in front of the court but since he has connections he manages to wriggle himself out of any prison or repercussions until an old gypsy man, a father of the killed lady, comes to him and whisper some curse words to him…
Billy initially doesn’t take much notice of the man thinking believing in folk magic is just ridiculous but as the action swiftly moves forward he starts to wonder if the curse is real…
You see, the gypsy has cursed him to lose weight and Billy starts losing it from the next day and it just continues. Initially our character thinks he is bothered by the feeling of guilt as he knows he was at fault but as other strange things around him start to happen, even involving the judge who made such favourable verdict during the case, Billy starts to wonder if that old gypsy man really cursed him to loose weight and if he did, when it’s meant to stop as whatever he does in attempt to gain any amount of weight doesn’t work.
Billy eventually realises he will need to speak to the man himself and try to convince him somehow to stop the curse as he fears the worst but will the Man listen too him and help him??
Given how well “Thinner” reads and how quickly the action follows, the best way to find the answer to these questions is to grab the book. I can still feel the uneasiness I felt when Stephen King described the gypsy man with great detail and skill. I never met him and I don’t think I’d ever want to come across him in the circumstances our protagonist did.

The Burning – Graham Masterton

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Not many books written by Graham Masterton were turned into movies, perhaps most of them were just to graphic to try to show to the public without removing some important scenes that were just an integral part of how it all goes in Masterson’s worlds.
“The Burning” also known as “The Hymn” is another great example at how the author integrated some common beliefs, mixed some real history and decided to scare us away.
In this title we have a happy woman who decides to take her life away in a rather drastic way of setting fire to herself after she soaked in fuel. Her boyfriend who doesn’t believe the fact his sweat heart had a dying wish tries to find out what happens and at some point I bet he wishes he never had.
After he learns that his soon to be wife wasn’t the only one that immolated herself he just digs deeper and deeper until he finds out his fiancee was follower of cult which founder promised immortality to those who’d sacrifice themselves by being eaten by fire.
The cult originated during the second world war when the Nazis tried to create an army of a superior beings and one of the pieces was never released last opera by Wagner. It all starts getting complicated but what our main character faces becomes much more terrifying than finding out exactly what happened to his darling. It could involve the future fate of the world.
While this book isn’t as scary as some other ones written by Masterton, “The Burning” takes a reader on a journey where one must ask about matters such suffering, what humanity turned into, the meaning of life and death.
With so many various and different characters plotted into the story, the dread of the Third Reich influencing the present times, one must nearly sense the urgency of what is presented to us and there is no time to waste.