Reviews tagging Child death

Duma Key, by Stephen King

2 reviews

zakcebulski's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


I am getting to the point in King's works where I can fully call myself a Stephen King fan. There have been some missteps, for me, but, by in large, I am absolutely a fan of King.
I picked up Duma Key at a used book store knowing nothing about it, save for the fact that it takes place in the then unexplored in King's works location of Florida.

This book takes place from the first person POV of Edgar Freemantle who is a massively wealthy builder from Minnesota. Edgar loses his arm and nearly his life in a construction site accident, and, chooses to try and recuperate in the Sunshine State itself- sunny Florida. He stays in the home of an elderly woman named Elizabeth Eastlake, and he paints. He paints and paints. But, it comes to be understood that his paintings are more than what is seen. Edgar develops a near clairvoyance with his paintings- able to see things that he has no knowledge of (specifically his daughter's engagement and his wife's trysts after their divorce).
He is also able to positively impact people's lives, like when he restores the sight to his friend (and a new favorite King character for me...) Jerome mother fucking Wireman. Wireman is a retired lawyer from Omaha who after a suicide attempt stemming from the sudden deaths of his wife and daughter moves to Florida to work for Elizabeth.
As a result of his suicide attempt, Wireman is blind in one eye. This is until Edgar comes and by virtue of his phantom limb pains guiding him, is able to paint Wireman's sight back.
As he paints Edgar's works get more and more recognition for their skill, how gorgeous they are, and how fucking creepy they are.

It becomes clear that something is askance, and this is that Perse, (Persephone) is inhabiting Duma Key, maliciously so. Perse had first come to speak to Elizabeth as a child, but, was thwarted by Elizabeth and her Nanny.
Now, it is up to Edgar, Wireman and Edgar's assistant- Jack (another solid character) to stop Perse before it is able to wreak too much havoc on the world.

Now, this is a very interesting, and very Lovecraftian inspired story wherein the horrors are largely unseen aside from when they are brought into human understanding through a human medium.
I thought that the story was very interesting, however, I did feel that the story was a little too long. I am not sure that the story justified its length, to be honest. There seemed to be an oddity in pacing where there were large stretches of Edgar painting over and again. I don't know if this was intentional to show the passage of time, or, if it was something that could have been parred down a bit?
Then, at the end, the final "battle" with Perse didn't seem all that grand. Usually with King's villains there is a strong buildup of the danger of the villains, and while Perse was shown to be truly powerful, their defeat was literally just putting them into a water filled container and dropping them into a freshwater lake. I just didn't feel that this fight reflected the danger illustrated to this point.

Regarding the characters, I thought that Edgar was a really good character. I appreciated that he felt very complex- he is dealing with horrific trauma, and, I think that that is illustrated very well. I like that he is morally good, but, his trauma is making him act in truly bad ways. The healing process is illustrated wonderfully by King.
Like I said, Wireman is a fucking banger of a character. I loved this dude. He is one of those King characters that I just fucking love. He speaks with pidgin Spanish and just has a worldly weariness to him. Plus, he is a fucking badass with a fucking DESERT EAGLE? Dang.
Per usual, I think that King is not awesome at writing female characters. I mean...Pam in this book- Edgar's ex-wife- is fucking annoying as shit, to be honest. She is so inconsistent and it seems like King unfortunately leaned in to the annoying trope of hysterics substituting character development.
Same goes for Edgar's daughter- Ilse- who is always said to be his favorite. She is a ditzy character who Edgar disgustingly talks about how he knows she is a certain age because of the fullness of her breasts? The connection between Edgar and Ilse was weird to me, I feel like I was told that they are very close, but never really believed it. 
And then Edgar's other daughter is more or less nonexistent aside from a few mentions of being in France? 
The most interesting character to me has to be Elizabeth Eastlake- who is as well the only well written woman in this book. She is an 85 year old woman who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. This gives a good layering of unreliable narrator backing, and, she is described as wholly mysterious, which adds to the air of uncertainty prevailing the book. I loved learning about her history and how she is wise to the goings on around her. Her Alzheimer's really gives a time constraint for the main characters to get all of the information possible from her before it is slowly eroded by a heinous disease. 

King's illustrational writing is on point in this book. The vivid imagery of Florida is well constructed, and his ability to form a tangible sadness, pang of pain, complete and total heartbreak, or elation is so well done that I just have to commend him. 

Overall, this book did a lot that I liked, and it had some missteps for me. I am glad to have read it, and it reaffirms my love for King's works. 
Also, I finished this the day after King's 75th birthday! Fun! 

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ahh_listen's review against another edition

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dark mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


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