Duma Key by Stephen King: Book Review

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Cover of Duma Key by Stephen King

3 Stars

Edgar Freemantle is a building contractor in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Then he is involved in a terrible workplace accident that leaves him with a brain injury and an amputated right arm. His therapist suggests that Edgar should get away from everything and get a fresh start. He tells Edgar to do something that makes him happy because he “[needs] hedges against the night.” Edgar moves to Duma Key on the Gulf coast of Florida and takes up sketching. His only neighbors are an old lady and an eccentric ex-lawyer. Edgar takes up sketching and with amazing rapidity becomes a painter. The therapy is good for him, but strange things are happening on Duma Key. Do Edgar’s paintings hold a clue to Duma Key’s past and present?

Really, this was 3 and a half stars. I tore through it, just like I tear through every Stephen King book I read. I liked the characters, especially Wireman, but it felt weird to read a Stephen King novel set in Florida. I’m no expert, but it seems like–if they’re set in this world at all–his novels are always in Maine, or at least New England. Also, I sort of felt like this had been done before. The plot wasn’t the same, but the same sorts of ideas show up in Charles de Lint’s Memory and Dream (which I prefer to this one, by the way).

I really hate to write this, but I’ll be glad when Stephen King gets his accident written out of his system. I know, I know! That’s easy for me to say. That’s a life-changing, maybe even a life-shattering, event and I’m pretty much wishing that the guy would just “Get over it, already!” I feel heartless. But there it is. I do wish it would stop showing up in his books.

As for the scare factor–eh. I spooked myself pretty good a few times, but that was more because I stopped reading at a bad place than because it was truly scary. Stephen King’s short stories scare me half to death, I think because he doesn’t allow himself the luxury of explaining things. My imagination takes hold and I scare myself. In this novel, he explained everything and I never worked up a good scare.

Reviewed July 13, 2008

Read an excerpt.

Find author Stephen King on his website.

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Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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1 Comment

  1. LOL. On the one hand, I think his accident was the best thing to happen to King. It broke his downward spiral of books like Gerald's Game and Rose Madder, finally convinced him to finish off The Dark Tower, and has given us some really strong new work.

    You're right, though, he does need to get it out of his system . . . and stop relying so heavily on author and artists as his protagonists.

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