Sunday, January 25, 2015

Duma Key

Duma Key
by Stephen King

I am the only one who has issues marking an audio book as "read?" I listened to Duma Key on a cross country car trip in December.  I had lots of miles and plenty of time to hear the story in just a few days. 

I have no doubt that Mr. King is an amazing, top story teller.  He's written some excellent stories that are not horror stories that have stuck with me for a long long time.  I sort of wish he would write more of those.  The one that comes to mind is a short story that inspired The Shawshank Redemption.  I remember when the movie came out - I was so confused why I already knew what was going to happen. Inevitably, I watch that movie every time it's on, to me it's the story is that good. The movie Stand by Me was also based on a story from that same short story collection: "Different Seasons." It's been a long long time, but if by any twist of fate I still have my copy of that book, I'm thinking I may have to go back and re-read it.  

But I am far off topic here, this was to be a review of Duma Key.  I'm not sure if it's a result of it being an audio version, or my age, or the story, but I didn't get as creeped out by Duma Key as I have in the past by King's novels.  But I did love the story, the otherworldy influences that make the story possible and the heart breaking effects they have on relationships we are rooting for. 

At the center of the story is Edgar Freemantle, who is trying to rebuild his life after a terrible construction accident leaves him disabled and angry.  He should have died but instead he survives, dealing with a missing arm and a brain injury that spurs his anger and ultimately destroys his marriage and the life he's built.  On his doctor's suggestion he moves to Duma Key in Florida, a remote, mostly unoccupied beautiful island (key) to hopefully promote his recovery and rehabilitation.   

He begins drawing and then painting in his new life. Eventually the demand for his talent puts him in the public spot light and it appears may even have a calming effect on the strained relationship with his family.  But there are evil forces at work and his art is actually the vessel for this evil to be released into the world. Edgar can stop painting, but can he stop the evil?

I remember the book being released while I was working for Barnes & Noble in Utah.  It's a hefty story and the audio version was many hours long.  Being as I am not a huge fan of horror stories, picking them up only occasionally, I felt the story could have been easily told in an abridged version.  For this reason I am only giving the book three of five stars. The story was good but the length would have daunted me had I not had a long drive or had picked up the printed version. 

I maintain King is truly one of our best story tellers.  How can a man who makes normally inanimate objects become so terrifying, not be?  

Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult

Where There's Smoke
by Jodi Picoult
Free ebook

I went to my iPhone to look for something quick and easy to read while waiting for/getting a pedicure. This came up as a free download and being a Picoult fan, I downloaded it without even reading the synopsis.

It turned out to be an short story expanding the past of one of the characters in her latest novel, "Leaving Time."  As I am a real fan of Leaving Time and will tell everyone I meet to read it, I was thrilled to have found this short story. 

Where There's Smoke is a quick story about Serenity Jones' rise and fall from stardom as a psychic. It fleshes out her character a bit more and explains the beginning of her downfall.  The moral of this short story is simply, "be careful of what you wish for."

For Picoult fans and those that have read or plan to read Leaving Time, I wholeheartedly recommend this story.  

I give this short story five of five shots.