Review: Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box
By Stephen King, Richard Chizmar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gwendy's Button Box is a solid reminder that I've been a rather unfaithful Constant Reader. Although King is among my favorite authors, one whose work I will order the instant it is announced, sometimes before plot details or even cover art are even made public, and oftentimes in multiple formats (take this book as a for instance - I bought the signed/limited Cemetery Dance hardcover, in addition to a Kindle copy, say thankee), it's been a handful of years since I've read an honest-to-God Stephen King book (the last being Doctor Sleep in 2013). It feels somewhat appropriate, then, to break this long intermission with this particular title, which sees King return to Castle Rock after quite a long time away, and he's brought along a co-writer in Richard Chizmar.

This novella is a breezy read, and I won't say much about the plot or the story itself. It begins with Richard Farris (ah, yes, we know you well, don't we, Mr. Farris, dressed all in black) introducing himself to a young Gwendy, and gifting her a small button box. What comes next...well, what follows is sheer potential, the promise of potential and the threat of it all.

King and Chizmar are very tight collaborators here, with their prose stylings matching up very well. They keep a conversational tone across the book's entirety, which helps makes this such a quick and enjoyable read. The story-telling here is top-notch, although I found myself wanting more and would not have minded a bit more meat to dig my teeth into. The horror is of the very quiet and understated variety, although there are a few scenes indeed that sent a shiver up my spine, and a few illustrations that helped sell that creeping dread and sense of disquiet all the more.

This is a very good read, but for this lapsed reader it's also a reminder that I need to get my butt back in gear and catch-up on those handful of King titles sitting in my to-be-read stack (both digital and physical). I also need to find more of Chizmar's work, and will be trying to figure out a way to sneak in A Long December before year's end.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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