Stephen King’s latest book is a novella of just 132 pages. Whilst I love his doorsteps, I often think he is at his best with shorter novels and short stories. Elevation is the tale of an ordinary man who has something extraordinary happen to him, as often is the case in King’s books. Scott starts to lose weight rapidly - the scales show a 2-3lb loss every day but his size and frame and importantly, his clothes don’t change. He realises that the loss isn’t going to slow down and the book is his reckoning with “zero day”.
Yes, I am a die hard King fan so I am always going to be a bit biased about his books, but this is truly a lovely story. I finished it on the train and I struggled to keep my emotions in check.
I think Stephen King stopped being classed as horror a long time ago but still this is where people would expect to find of his reviews. This is his most recent collection of short stories - I will say straight off the bat that it's not as good as his last two collections but it is still full of dark treats. What sets this collection apart, is that King gives a little intro at the start of each story telling his constant readers where the inspiration came from for the coming tale. Given that On Writing is so good, these little intros are a delicious bonus.
The stories within are each fantastic little reads but stand out stories are Obits and Drunken Fireworks. Obits is about a journo who writes the obituaries for a little publication. As a joke, he writes the obit of his boss in a pique of frustration but when she dies the next day, he finds he has a terrible power. Dangerous but becomes more so when it gets exploited. Drunken Fireworks is a rather amusing tale of one-up-manship on July the 4th. Living on a river, is a relatively poor family who bought their shack when property was cheap. Across the river, on the other side, is a mobster who owns a massive mansion. Each year they try to outdo each other with fireworks. it becomes a famous battle in the neighbourhood and so begins a worldwide search for the ultimate firework.
I love Stephen King, I love his stories so I am pretty easy to impress. When he's good, he's great - this collection isn't that but it's still head and shoulders above most who try to emulate the Master.
Stephen King gets a lot of stick and Stephen King fans bear a fair amount too but I am a happy-to-be fan. What I like about reading Stephen King is that you are guaranteed a story. Yes, one that the plot takes precedent to prose, but that's why we humans read and have a history of story-telling. But you are guaranteed a story. You are also guaranteed characters that you immediately 'get'. His characters are steeped in the ordinary, normalcy and therefore you buy it, allowing King to introduce the extraordinary which you automatically accept.
Revival is no different. The extraordinary in the ordinary. Jamie Morton is a small boy in the 60s. A new pastor comes to town and Jamie and Charles immediately strike up a friendship. One that will take them to old age, despite themselves. Charles has a hobby - he loves electricity. Think Tesla in a tunic. He plays with electricity and one day, cures Jamie's older brother using a sort of DIY electroshock therapy.
Then one day something horrific happens and Charles suffers a devastating blow that shakes his faith in God. When he delivers a rant at church, he is asked to leave and Jamie doesn't seem again until they are both older.
Cue a carnival and Jamie - ex-Rock star, junkie, washed up has been - sees and older Charles perform. He is now doing a strange electricity show where he 'cures' people with his magic rings. They come into contact again and Charles turns his curing power to Jamie's drug addiction and hooks him up with a job with a previous 'patient'.
But these people Charles cures - what becomes of them? What are the side effects of their cure? These are the questions that begin to haunt Jamie and he tries to get the answers. Ultimately Jamie finds himself in a situation of both wanting and hating Charles' power.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Spanning a long period, I felt immersed in the story and the characters at all times. Being a bit of a fan of Tesla, I especially liked the subject matter. I found the use of electricity being the 'horror' with the mad scientist who used to be a religious person, quite fascinating. Highly recommended.
A man drives a Mercedes into a people waiting in a job queue. As Mr King is wont to do, he introduces us to a couple of the soon-to-be bumper-fodder before he introduces the bumper of the Mercedes. A desperate man. A young mother with her baby.
Bill Hodges retired cop is haunted by this unsolved crime. He leads sedentary, junk food-filled daily existence until he receives a letter in the post from the killer laughing at Hodges' inability to catch him. Hodges ignores the claim but begins to put the case together. The owner of the stolen Mercedes, the murder weapon, dies some time after the crime was committed and Hodges doesn't think this is a coincidence. With his IT literate neighbour and the sister of the Mercedes owner, this little band of people flung together begin to chase a killer. Just as he chases them.
King has announces that this book is the beginning of a trilogy featuring Bill Hodges and I am really pleased to hear that. I enjoyed this very much - as a straightforward crime novel it is very good. King is always...well, king at drawing his characters and the extraordinary predicament they find themselves in.
This is a novella from the book Different Seasons. Said book contains three other novellas of King's.
King has always been a treasured favourite of mine but I felt the need to give up reading his books twenty years ago as it was pointed out to me, by my brother, that my behaviour was changing and he suggested giving up King. Much to my regret he was right. I should point out that I did not come close to being an axe-weilding murderer.
Curiously, this experience was an aid to making the Apt Pupil story very real.
The Apt Pupil is Todd Bowden, a straight A student of 13 when he seeks out a Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander, who is in his early 70's. The reader is led to believe that Todd is merely going to blackmail Dussander and the reader is correct but the sting in the tail is that all Todd wants is to find out is what it was actually like to be involved in the death camps. Over a period of years he does find out, in great detail. The effects that that has on both Todd and Kurt is what takes up the majority of the story and is truly horrific.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, it feels to me to be King at his best. I did not anticipate the ending at all, although I did know that it could not end well.
This one is for King fans who know what to expect from him and they won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.