In Duma Key Stephen King taps into extreme mid-life crisis and although he stirs it in a bubbling vat of macabre, the core, non-magical, element remains. What is one to do with one’s life? Edgar Freemantle struggles with redefining himself after having faced near-death trauma, having lost not only his right arm but some of his mental function, and, oh yes, his marriage. Have a nice day. Luckily for him, and conveniently for the author, he has been a very successful contractor and, having socked away rather large sums, he can afford to take a giant step away from the rubble of his life. Eager to heal both body and mind, Edgar opts in to a large beach house on the lightly populated Duma Key. This being Stephen King, the beach house and the island itself come with more than just sun, sand and surf.
In short order Freemantle discovers that his amateur’s ability for drawing has blossomed into a world class talent for painting. Edgar continues to experience sensations in the missing arm, and that feeling seems to connect him with inspiration for his creepy, if inspired canvasses. There are dark forces at work, and the paintings Freemantle is cranking out have a little extra in them.
Down the beach he meets the elderly Elizabeth, owner of most of the Key, and Wireman, her caretaker. The three strike up a fast friendship. Elizabeth’s past is at the center of this tale.
Expect creepie crawlies, a few shivers, a puzzle to be figured out, good friends working together to try to do just that, and a powerful resident evil. This is a fast-paced book. I hated to put it down. It was fun to read, and scary enough.
King has a particular fondness for children in his stories, and does not disappoint here, offering not only chapters in which the narrator is a child, but characters both immediate and historical that fit the bill. Also, Freemantle’s own children, while adult, or near-adult, still qualify because of how he feels about them.
I did not think that Duma Key was one of his best works. But garden-variety Stephen King is better than most in this genre. He is readable, enjoyable, and taps into enough reality to lend emotional substance to his spook stories.
A few other SKs we have reviewedUnder the DomeThe ShiningLisey's Story