An admission: this is the first King novel I’ve ever read. It comes highly recommended as being King at his best.
The obvious: the scary factor. King readers know it, but I had to read and see. It’s all true: King can create a spook moment that will have you hearing noises in the house and looking at the night windows wondering if someone is out there. The “Bones” novel has a scene in which Mike Noonan, protagonist cast as an author of novels, descends the cellar steps in his old (and haunted) lake house in Maine. Each step the terror grows. I had to get out of bed, move around and get the chills out of my spine. Last time I had a similar reaction to a fictional work was when I squirmed in heightened anxiety watching the last scenes of “Blair Witch Project.”
My used hardback version runs over 500 pages. It is a bit messy toward the end. An editor could take a few of the over-extended scenes (like those with Mattie in particular, and the climactic scenes with Devore and at Mattie’s backyard party) and cut them down with no harm. But I wasn’t bothered. I know from reading King’s book “On Writing” that he is a practitioner of writing organically. He puts characters in a scene and a certain situation and lets them go their own way. Let them work it out, let them lead the writer. It is a mystical place for a writer to be, and I think the results sometimes can tend towards excess.
King’s characters are vivid and skillfully presented. I’m likely to remember all of them, from the evil Rogette to the PYT Mattie.