Duma Key by Stephen King

Plot overview 

The following novel by Stephen King, first released in January 2008, presents the story of Edgar Freemantle who looses his arm and psychical balance in a construction site accident. Being irked by uncontrolled outbursts of rage, he decides to leave his previous life behind and start a new one. Edgar’s suicidal thoughts make his psychologist suggest him moving to an island called Duma Key and taking up drawing which has turned out to be Edgar’s hidden and unfulfilled hobby. After renting a house on the breathtaking and isolated island off the shore of Florida, which belongs to an elderly lady named Elisabeth Eastlake, Edgar has only one thing in his mind: to draw. Pictures and paintings created with obsessive passion are results of his talent which soon gets out of control. Edgar discovers that by means of his paintings, which come into being in a wild trance, he has an ability to influence the reality. After getting to know the stories of his landlady – Elisabeth and his new friend, woman’s caretaker – Wireman, Edgar starts to realize that he was called to the island by some unknown power. His works of art, which gain a lot of popularity and appreciation, seem to shout out the story which frightens Edgar, but at the same time makes him curious and willing to discover it. His curiosity is finally satisfied when he realizes the power of his paintings and is familiarized with a detailed story of Elisabeth’s life. But then it turns out to be too late to turn back, too late to escape. He needs to fight against great evil which has woken up to spread destruction after being once defeated by a young Elisabeth.

Below you can watch a video on which Stephen King comments on his novel.

Review

I admit that at the beginning I was a bit sceptical about Stephen King’s novels. However, since I started reading them I have been getting more and more interested in the works of this author. ‘Duma Key’ is definitely the best King’s novel I have read so far. There is a large number of reasons which made me form such an opinion.

First of all, the plot. It will not be enough to say that it is interesting. It is so engrossing that it makes you be completely absorbed and transfered to the world of the novel. The story develops gradually. First, the reader is given the background, some introductory information which enables to understand characters and their ways of thinking. At the beginning nothing unusual seems to be involved in the story. A man who has experienced a terrible accident, after which he undergoes a lot of difficulties connected with his health condition and social life, decides to take part in a hopeless fight to get his life back. He aims to cure his body struggling with pain and free his emotional side from uncontrolled attacks of anger. But as the pages go by, the action becomes more and more complicated, mysterious and supernatural, but in moderation. That is a good point of this novel. Even if the plot incorporates some supernatural phenomena, the way the author presents them is very reliable and the reader may actually consider them to be true. And what is more, the plot is scary and gives the reader goose bumps, which is what a good horror novel ought to do.

Second of all, I just love the characters that King has created. Each of the main heroes has some story to be uncovered, some skeletons in the cupboard to be revealed. This makes the reader want to know more and more about the characters, get into their lives, know their secrets and understand their behavior.

Third of all, the language used by the author is both sophisticated and comprehensible. It is not too simple and requires some amount of concentration while reading, but at the same time it is understandable enough not to make the reader get lost. Moreover, King is the master of creating a proper atmosphere by means of the language. The words he uses, the way of describing places, people and expressing emotions… It is all on a very high level. The author makes the reader feel what characters feel, see what characters see, and basically have the impression of being inside the action, participate in all events.

Finally, what I also appreciate about this novel is the message it carries. I am aware that the interpretation of books is always something personal, depending on readers and their points of view, however, I would like to share my opinion on this matter. For me the  novel is not only about the fight between good and evil, between the men and supernatural, powerful forces. The book emphasizes the strength of one’s will-power and willingness to fight with their own weaknesses and limitations. It shows that no matter how low one falls, there is always a way up. What is more, the importance of friendship, love and responsibility for others is underlined.

Summing up, the book is definitely a perfect way to forget the world around and get lost in another, mysterious, intriguing and scary reality which will evoke diverse kinds of emotion in the reader.

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The Shining by Stephen King

General information

The novel was originally released in 1977 by Doubleday publishing company. The idea for the plot came into being in September of 1974 when King and his wife spent a night at an old hotel in Estes Park. After they had arrived it turned out that they were the only guests and that the hotel was going to be closed for winter the following day. During King’s “voyage” through the corridors he found the place perfectly suitable as a setting for a ghost story. He also had a strange dream that night. He saw his three-year-old son being chased by a fire-hose and trying to escape, looking back over his shoulder, with a frightened expression on his face, screaming. After waking up from this nightmare he got up, took a cigarette and took a look through the window. By the time King finished smoking, a general idea for the story was created in his mind.

Plot overview

Jack Torrance, a writer and a former teacher struggling with alcohol abuse, applies for a position of a winter caretaker in a distant Overlook Hotel. After being given the job he moves there together with his wife Wendy and a five-year-old son Danny. The hotel seems to be a blessing for the family being at the edge of destruction. Jack hopes to fight with alcoholism and his uncontrolled rage attacks by getting involved in writing a play, whereas Wendy sees the “in the middle of nowhere” hotel as a place where she will manage to preserve her family. When it comes to Danny, he is a special child. Not only because he is very mature for a five-year-old kid, but also, and mainly, because of his unique ability to see and hear things unavailable for eyes and ears of other people. Before moving to The Overlook he had a vision, he knew that something evil was lurking within empty rooms of the hotel. As the time goes by, a destructive influence of the place, which had a long and violent history, starts to affect the family. Everything changes, all hopes are gone, there is no way out…

Review

‘The Shining’ was the second book by Stephen King that I have read. After reading ‘Salem’s Lot’ I had big expectations when it comes to this work by the king of horror, as the author is usually called. I didn’t feel disappointed. The plot of the novel is very engrossing and surprising. Like a box of chocolates in different flavors but wrapped all the same. You are curious what is inside, but you know that only after opening  each piece. The plot here is exactly the same. The action develops  gradually, suspense is present in every chapter, which makes readers get  completely lost in pages. What is more, the author presents a detailed  view into the characters. Such a thorough analysis of their personality  helps readers to understand their behavior, almost get into their minds. Being familiarized with diverse aspects of their lives, their past, helps to  create psychological profiles of the main heroes and consequently, get  into the story even more. Another thing worth mentioning is the choice  of the setting. An isolated, cut off from civilization, place is a perfect setting for such a story. It gives an impression of complete lack of  hope. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to escape from the disastrous ending  which destiny (or maybe The Overlook) has prepared for Jack, Wendy  and  Danny. Summing up, the book is definitely worth  recommending. It  is not a typical horror. It is something reaching  deeper, involving psychological aspects of human nature, instincts and rage lurking inside  and waiting for the proper moment to explode.

The online version of the novel is available HERE

If you are interested in buying ‘The Shining‘ or other works by Stephen King, they are available on Amazon