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CR3 #53: Bag of Bones by Stephen King (King REreview #1)

At the moment, I am running low on new books. Partly because I am running out of space to store them (I have a gigantic Ikea bookshelf, I just haven't had the wherewithal to shift all our furniture around to create a space and then put it together), and partly because as I mentioned before, it's summer. I lose motivation in summer, which is not helped by the fact that I managed to complete the full Cannonball. I'm waiting for some new ones to arrive, but what to do in the interim? As I stood in front of my bookshelves the other day, the idea came to me: Stephen King. I own nearly all of his books, and have only reviewed a few. New goal: Re-read and review all (previously unreviewed) King works I own. That should keep me busy during any slow points. Plus, it will give me the opportunity to think a little more critically about his works and express what it is that I enjoy about them to others.

I have already done Cannonball reviews for a few of his works:
1. The Cell
2. The Gunslinger
3. Lisey's Story
4. The Drawing of the Three
5. The Wastelands
6. Wizard and Glass
7. Under the Dome
8. Hearts in Atlantis
9. Song of Susannah
10. The Tommyknockers
11. The Bachman Books

Hmm. That is more than a few, huh? Okay, well, anyway, now you know that there are more coming.  On to today's addition to the list!

Mike Noonan is a reasonably well-known author of thrillers. His life was going along just fine until his wife Johanna died of an aneurysm one sunny August day. After her death, Mike finds himself totally unable to write. Merely opening the word-processing program on his computer causes intense panic attacks. He has several unpublished novels put away to live on, but when four years go by and he is no closer to being able to write again, he decides a change is in order. Mike packs himself up and goes to his summer house in northern Maine, Sara Laughs. Not long after he arrives, he finds himself wound up in the custody battle of a young mother fighting to keep her daughter, having increasingly disturbing dreams, and having experiences inside the house that can't possibly be real. As time passes, he discovers the deep, dirty secret of the small Maine town, and what it has to do with the angry spirits of Sara Laughs.

This is a traditional ghost story, though filtered through the Stephen King lens. I actually didn't like this one the first time I read it--I much prefer King's more ensemble-type stories, and sometimes find myself a little annoyed at his writer characters. However, on second reading I found that I liked it a lot better. I am usually a fan of old-fashioned ghost stories--the kind wherein the ghost is haunting for a specific purpose, rather than being a simple random evil presence--and this surely fits the bill. The characters are interesting, although there were points where I found Mike to be a little dense (of course, all horror story characters HAVE to be a little dense sometime, or the story would end awfully quickly). I enjoyed the character of Kyra, who might be a little precocious, but still struck me as adorable. The plot was interesting and made sense, though I thought it got bogged down a bit in places. I also would have liked to see the "history" information spread out through the book a little more--as it is in IT, for example--rather than piled up in a big discovery at the end.

On the whole, I'd say this book is definitely flawed, but it also had some genuinely spooky moments, and some interesting wordsmithing. I'd probably rate it about a 3 of 5.

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