Okay, my lady and I just finished Duma key yesterday, which is one I've not actually seen mentioned in this topic, so spoilage ahoy for that one if you've not read it.
oddly enough, i'll admit reading this so soon after bag of bones was a miner error, or at least there were some notable similarities in the basic shape of the plot, guy has really crappy event happen in later life, goes off on his own to sort things outt engages in creative work.
on the other hand, there are some major differencces. For a start, Edgar freemantle I found a rather more likeable character than Michael in Bag of bones, despite him also being a multi millionaire.
I also found that whilst the book moves slowly, there were no points where I was actively wishing King would get on with things.
maybe this is just because the way King write's about Edgar's accident and recovery was so very compelling, from his fits of rage, to his both tragic and occasionally even hollowly funny inability to get words right.
Actually, the way King dealt with all of the consequences of Edgar's recovery, from what it's actually like to have one arm and a none working leg to his various uncontrollable fits of rage was extremely good.
This meant that I was fairly invested in the book at the start, so by the time we started to have creepy stuff begin happening, I was already on board, and that before we got genuinely likable secondary characters. Indeed, with Wireman King does something that I always admire, and lets explanation of the strange influence explain aspects of his character we've already seen.
I mean, we realise Wireman is a nice guy, but when we learn that the psychic influence on Duma key affected his talent for empathy the way it affected Edgar and Elizabeth's art, it just clicks.
It also explains why this book is such a good bromance, and why Edgar and Wireman become best mates so quickly, then again, since both are lonely nice guys who see the world in the same way it's not too surprising.
What I also liked in this book was the way King dealt with Elizabeth's Alzheimer's, being both brutally honest about her condition deteriorating (just as honest in fact as he is about Edgar), and yet at the same time still making Elizabeth both engaging and mysterious, indeed with Elizabeth when you realise how much she remembers of her past and how much she was trying to communicate, her story become all the more tragic.
Edgar's daughter Ilse was a little idiolised, then again I can forgive that for being a father's first person view of his favourite child, particularly with the way that other members of Edgar's family tended to come off as real, indeed I like the nuances of Edgar's marriage to Pam, a marriage which both my lady and I suspect was probably doomed anyway even before Edgar's rage caused him to get physical, and yet the fact that towards the end of the book, Pam and Edgar at least reconcile somewhat. Though unfortunately that reconciliation goes down the tube's when Ilse is killed, and presumably never recovers.
Another thing I particularly appreciated here, was the way that the mystery about Elizabeth's past had such a slow revelation, combined with creepy stuff happening in the present, indeed King has a tendency in his books, Desperation, Bag of bones, It, to do this huge "and here is what happened in the past!" about three quarters of the way through, after vague hints only leading up to that point.
here though, he got both the revelations and clues exactly right, indeed I found myself trying to piece together what had happened to Elizabeth's family in 1927, and what actually had happened to the rest of her family.
King indeed, obviously took a lot of time in this book with mysteries since there were lots of moments when he surprised me with plot twists, and yet revealed that the grand work was already there, as indeed he did with Ilse's death, indeed that hole chapter, when you believe she's safe, with Edgar struggling with his memory and the evil sketch was down right fiendish.
The only thing I did find a little odd, is how little Edgar used his power, once he realised how it worked, then again, King timed things so that the confirmation Edgar could alter reality only happened just when mysteries connected to the horrific events in the past, and pottential horrors in the present were coming to the for, so Edgar presumably wasn't tempted to try more after disposing of the child murderer and fixing Wireman's eyesight.
okay, I'll admit my only major issue with the book was with it's ending.
For a start, a miner point, i really wish that there was an implication that Elizabeth's two little sisters had moved on, the way her sister's husband emmerson did after Wireman killed him with Silver and perse was gone, since it would've been fitting to leave all of Elizabeth's family together, then again, I suppose that might have been a little too easy.
My major problem though is with the final ending.
Wireman dies of a random heart attack, not because of the evil influence, or giving his life for something greater, just because shit happens!
Edgar gives up his art because he still has the power, and doesn't want to risk being tempted to do anything, and of course, though theoretically Edgar released her spirit when he killed her undead sand ghost at the end, Ilse is still dead.
So, Edgar, this man we've just spent nearly 24 hours reading time with, begins the book a lonely divorced old bachelor with no close friends and no direction, and ends exactly the same way!
The last we hear, his wife blaime's him for their their daughter's death (and goodness knows what his elder daughter thinks), , his new best mate Wireman and wireman's concerns all go down the toilet and Edgar, now short a good few friends, as well as an arm, a new career, a daughter and everything else, ---- edgar, mmmmm, I don't know?
Had Edgar perhaps kept his ability to paint minus the power at the end, or maybe was reduced to the ability of a normal artist and need to relearn how to use it, or heck, if Wireman had survived and Edgar was going to go off with him to renovate a hotel in Mexico as Wireman planned. Indeed, whilst my lady reminded me we do hear that Edgar is in Mexico, we don't find out what he's doing there, heck for all we know he could be arranging Wireman's funeral.
At the start of the book Edgar's therapist, kindly old Doctor Kaimon (who also wound up very dead), told Edgar he needed "hedges against the night", indeed at that point it was pretty clear Edgar was very much approaching suicide.
Well guess what? That lovely directionless state Edgar started in? Well he's right back there at the end, undead demon slaying, mystery solving and awesome magic painting abilities not withstanding.
It's not a bitter sweet ending like that in bag of bones where Michael gives up his writing, admits his wife's grief but gains a daughter.
It's not a gritty "recovering in time", ending like Gerald's game, misery or rose madder, it's not even a darkly tragic nasty ending like pet cemetery or Cell.
it's just a "shit happens, and life is meaningless." ending.
Thanks a bunch King, I hope in some universe out there, Edgar freemantle realises who is behind all of this and paints you a really large and painful boil on your inflated rear end!
So, duma key, a slow, but pretty awesome book, with a super crappy ending, or at least such is my thought anyway.
With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)