Sunday, 5 February 2017

Book Review: Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Bag of Bones focuses on the story of Mike Noonan, a best-selling writer who's wife unexpectedly passes away. Following her death, Mike suffers from writer's block and begins to have nightmares concerning their lakeside house, Sara Laughs. Mike decides he must go back to their lakeside house in order to confront his fears. Upon his arrival, he meets a beautiful single mother and her daughter, only to find out that a crazy millionaire wants to obtain custody of the young girl, who is his granddaughter. Mike decides he must help the young mother and daughter, but other sinister forces are also at work...

"And perhaps the greatest blessing was that we never knew how short the time was."

I truly believe that no one can depict grief like King can. Between this and Lisey's Story, King seems to have a unique talent for describing those feelings of loss and the process of grief itself. And that is part of the reason why I love King so much, it just feels like he gets you and he is able to connect with his reader so easily. Bag of Bones opens with Mike Noonan trying to cope following the unexpected death of his wife Johanna to a brain aneurysm, and these opening scenes are just heartbreaking to read. Mike's grief is so prominent and it's very easy to empathise with this character.  The reality of Johanna's death really hits Mike when he realises that she will never move past page 103 in her current read (this really struck a cord with me). Shortly after her death, the nightmares surrounding their lakeside house begins...

This book did actually unsettle me at times. There's just something about creepy happenings occurring in your house. It's those kind of storylines that freak me out the most - the ones that quite literally hit close to home. It's kinda why movies like Paranormal Activity are so effective. Some of the scenes King described left me with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Serves me right for reading alone in bed late at night...

The characters themselves are pretty special. Mike Noonan is just a damn good man. He is caring, generous, thoughtful, and that somehow makes it more difficult to watch him suffering through the loss of his wife. Although Johanna is strictly not a "live" character, she is very much present in this novel, and again, she is a genuinely good person. So her death is even more tragic. Upon meeting Mattie after his arrival at the lakehouse, you find yourself willing Mike to move on, almost like you want to tell him that it's okay. Often when I encounter this kind of a scenario in a book, I am like "HOW DARE YOU! She's barely cold in her grave!" but you can feel Mike's pain and he is clearly a good man who deserves some happiness in his life.

How many times do I need to emphasise that King is literally the BEST at developing characters and their relationships. People who say King is all about horror and scares, need to read books like these in order to truly understand what King is really all about. Yes, this book could be considered "horror" in a way, but it's not your usual haunted house storyline at all. It's so much more than that. As for the "baddies" in this book - they were horrible, vile characters, particularly the character Max Devore.

The twists and turns and unfolding of events in this novel was very impressive. I was constantly wondering what was coming next, how everything was linked, and I'm very happy to say that it all paid off. One minor complaint is regarding some of the scenes towards the end that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I felt like perhaps it was maybe a bit too much...however it did really have an impact on me, and perhaps that was King's intention? So maybe it did work then?

Anyway, all in all, a great book. 5 stars out of 5 for me! I'm on a run of great King books!


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