Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Duma Key

Duma Key
Duma Key by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually, if everyone starts telling me how much they loved a book as soon as I mention I'm reading it, I steel myself for disappointment. Books rarely live up to my expectations in such circumstances, for some odd reason I have yet to figure out.

Duma Key, though, lived up to my expectations, and then some. It was a well-crafted story not just about turning the mundane into something sinister (in this case, painting a Florida sunset), not just about overcoming the monster, but about a man's coping with loss, and accepting that his life will never be the same.

Edgar Freemantle narrates his tale of losing his arm and a lot of brain functioning in a construction site accident. He's slowly gaining it back when his wife asks for a divorce, and he decides his life his over. But his psychiatrist, rather than reporting him for suicidal ideation, tells him to take a year away from everything, so that he can at least convince his daughters it was an accident.

I couldn't help but feel like the descriptions of the pain and coping to a life after the accident related at least in part to King's own experience. Certainly his description of Edgar's healing hip is raw and real in a way I can't imagine simple research can tap.

But the story doesn't revolve around that, luckily. I feared most of the book would have Edger muttering to himself in Big Pink, the house he rents in the Florida Keys while he draws and paints and gets occasional visitors, but then Edgar meets the other residents of Duma. Jerome Wireman is the caretaker of Elizabeth Eastlake, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and who owns most of the island. She clues Edgar in to the supernatural element he's already encountered, and then, in traditional King fashion, the story gets creepier from there.

I found the book tightly plotted and well-written. Early scenes that seem like so much puttering turn out to contain some essential information that later comes into play, and there's an undercurrent throughout the book that pays off well in the conclusion.

I enjoyed it a lot, and I can see myself rereading it. This is one of King's best books, I think, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a story of supernatural intervention in healing.

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