Forget the lean, mean King of Misery, Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne. This is the other King-the Grand Vizier of Verbosity who gave us It, The Tommyknockers and Needful Things. There's much of everything in these 800 pages, including the worthy. Notable is a rare septuagenarian hero, recently widowed Ralph Roberts, whose broodings on old age immerse readers into the aging psyche almost as clearly as other King heroes have revealed the minds of children. Then there's the slam-bang final 300 pages, in themselves a novel's worth of excitement as Ralph battles demonic entities to prevent a holocaust in his small town of Derry, Maine (site of It). The problem is that the finale is preceded by more than a novel's worth of casual, even tedious buildup: Ralph's growing insomnia; his new ability to see auras around all living things; his dismay as Derry's citizens divide violently over the impending visit of a radical pro-lifer; his slow realization that celestial forces have marked Derry as a battleground between good and evil. King remains popular fiction's most reliable mirror of cultural trends, in particular our continuing love affair with horror (Barker and Koontz are palpable influences here). If this novel were liposuctioned, it would rank among King's best; as is, it's another roly-poly volume from a skilled writer who presumes his readers' appetite for words is more gourmand than gourmet. 1,500,000 first printing; $1 million ad/promo; paperback rights to Signet; simultaneous audio release from Penguin Highbridge; BOMC selection. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.