Skip to main content

CR3 #57: Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub (King REreview #2)

The first time I read this book, I didn't like it very much. It seemed scattered, bringing in characters that seemed like they should be familiar but weren't, and referencing things that were treated like common knowledge but weren't mentioned fully in the course of the story. The whole thing felt like a mess. I thought perhaps the trouble was the collaboration between the two authors--perhaps they hadn't been able to mesh their ideas and styles together as easily as originally intended?

It wasn't until later that I realized this book is actually a sequel. The first book the two authors wrote together is called The Talisman, and that tells the whole story of young Jack Sawyer and his trip over into "The Territories" to find the talisman and save his mother. After I read that book, Black House made a LOT more sense. And after reading the Dark Tower series, it makes even more, since the world of The Territories seems to be inextricably linked to that of Mid-World. There's also some carry-over from Hearts in Atlantis as well. Basically, this is NOT a book to read on its own--it is okay by itself, but loses a lot if the reader is unable to pick up all the connections.

Jack Sawyer is now an adult, and has left his job as a hotshot Hollywood homicide detective to retire to the Wisconsin countryside, taking up residence just outside the town of French Landing. He isn't sure why he chose this place, but has an inexplicable feeling that something has called him. Unfortunately, not long after he arrives a serial killer dubbed "The Fisherman" begins to kidnap and kill--and dine on--children from around French Landing. The police are stumped, and although Jack doesn't want to get involved (he's retired, after all!) it seems the more he tries to avoid being pulled in, the more the universe seems to push. Before long, another child is kidnapped, and Jack discovers that this all ties back to the adventure he had as a child in The Territories. It's up to him (and some new friends he's made along the way) to solve the case, save the child, and perhaps even save the world as we know it.

This is a great story. I very much enjoyed the plot, which moved along at a good clip--only occasionally getting bogged down in King's trademark descriptions. All the characters were interesting and well-drawn, even the smaller bit players. In particular, blind DJ Henry Leyden and biker Beezer St. Pierre were fun and interesting to follow. The dialogue was excellent, and it was often very funny. Not to mention it had some very spooky, very disturbing parts for the horror fans. Also--probably due to Peter Straub's influence--the ending wasn't stupid. It all actually made sense and worked out properly.

On the whole I'd definitely recommend this, but ONLY after reading the Talisman (and preferably after reading at least the first five Dark Tower books as well).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #2 - Southern Gods

I've had Southern Gods on my TBR list for so long I no longer remember why I put it there. Was it a recommendation from Amazon? From Goodreads? Did someone I know recommend it? Did it cross my path as a "If you liked __________ then you'll like this too!"

Maybe I heard it through the grapevine?

I only know that recently, I happened to come across it on my wishlist and decided to go ahead and splurge on it.

I'm glad I did.

In 1951 Memphis, war veteran and leg-breaker-for-hire Bull Ingraham gets a new assignment: a record company has lost one of their employees somewhere. Early Freeman set off to deliver new records to radio stations, and has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. His boss at Helios Records is anxious to find him...and also anxious to find a mysterious blues musician whose music can do terrible things to the living -- and to the dead.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Sarah Rheinhart leaves her abusive husband and returns to her family home, where …

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…