Dave and I were reading our separate books the other night…
“How’s your Stephen King book?”
“Did the ghost eat anybody yet?”
“No. But the ghost did save the main character’s life.”
“Oh, and the ghost moves the magnets on the refrigerator around.”
“That’s disappointing. When did Stephen King write a book called Casper the Friendly Ghost? You should get your money back.”
I had a craving for a scary book last weekend, so I picked up Stephen King’s Bag of Bones at the bookstore. I had not read one of his books since the early 90’s when, as a teenager, I found his work to be the perfect rebellious combination of swear words, sex and paranormal activity. I remembered enjoying the scary stories, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy King’s witting style.
A classic literary masterpiece, this book is not. It is, however, a decent scary story with strong character development. King is always a good story teller and creates very vivid and complex characters. He is also good at weaving together multiple themes and story lines, without leaving out any of the important details.
The story revolves around Michael Noonan, a best-selling author from Maine whose wife dies suddenly in the beginning of the book. Mike falls into a serious case of writer’s block after his wife’s death, and has a series of scary dreams about his wife and their vacation home. Mike returns to their vacation home to face his fears, and discovers that his wife was keeping secrets from him before her death. Did she know about the ghosts? While at the vacation home, Mike saves the life of a small neighbor girl, Kyra Devore, who was walking down the middle of the road while running away to the beach. Mike starts to fall in love with Kyra’s mother, a young widow, and becomes subsequently involved in a custody battle for the child against the wealthy and powerful grandfather, Max Devore. The story is a combination of love story, tragedy and ghost story (of course!) with a strong focus on memory, both personal memory and the collective memory of the community.
Shockingly, the internet seems to contradict itself on this matter, but the movie version of Bag of Bones is either in “pre-production” or “production”.
The book satisfied my craving for a good scary story, and rekindled my interest in King’s writing. It does not warrant the title of Casper the Friendly Ghost, as the ghost story involves much more than refrigerator magnets that are moved around, I promise!
Another of King’s book that I started to read as a teenager but did not finish is the 700+ page classic, Needful Things. I think I will go back and read it sometime soon.