Rose Madder by Stephen King: A book review

Last week I helped someone to pick a King book, and this book piqued my curiosity. Two sleepless nights and 500 pages later, here I am with a review of the Rose Madder. Am I a King convert? Read on to know more.

About the book

Rose Madder by Stephen King

Book: Rose Madder

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Fiction – Horror, Supernatural

Main Characters: Rose McClendon Daniels, Norman Daniels, Bill Steiner

Setting: Aubreyville, The USA

Plot Summary

The story is about a woman, Rosie who escapes her abusive husband after a torturous period of fourteen years of married life. She makes an abrupt decision to leave, and she leaves with his credit card. The Husband, Norman Daniels, is a cop who takes pleasure in hitting, kicking, punching and oh, biting his victim.

She leaves him for good and is saved by a home called “Daughters and Sisters.” She tries to start her life anew and it takes a spin when an oil painting catches her fancy at a pawnshop, which she buys trading her engagement ring.

She also is smitten by the guy at the pawnshop, Bill Steiner. Norman eventually finds her and is resolved to kill her. On a perfectly normal plot, King takes in a supernatural twist. You should read the Rose Madder to find out more. Let me know if you have any nightmares.

Book review

The plot about a weak woman who escapes her maniac husband and starting her new life, was pretty solid and realistic. But the 20% of the book where the painting and the supernatural stuff got involved, did not actually work for me. What I actually got me continue the book was the characterization. Even the smallest character was etched to almost perfection.

Norman and Rosie were clearly in contrast – Norman being macho and sadistic at last turning into a scared and pathetic person, and Rosie the timid wife to strong and persevering woman who could handle her stuff when she had to. Gert, Anna and even Pam were well detailed. And of course Bill, the most weakly portrayed of the story – probably just to differentiate him from THE Norman.

I had not read the blurb (or whatever the description on the back cover is called) so reading the prologue was quite a shocker, as I already mentioned. Most of the abuses were narrated much later by Rosie, saving the reader from nightmares.

The scary part of the book was not the supernatural things that happen but the human monster himself. I could have liked Norman for all the villain he was – strong, no nonsense, macho, his malevolence and all that but turning him into panic stricken and delusive mode at the end spoiled him a bit for me – though it was absolutely scary and realistic.

The story could have ended well before the last 50 pages where I had to push myself to complete. In fact I would have liked the book better without the supernatural phenomenon – probably it is just a “not you, it’s me” thing.

What worked for me

What may have been better

  • The book could have been shorter by 50 pages and it still would have had the same impact to the climax.
  • This is a personal ME thing: the paranormal part didn’t scare/torture me as the human factor did.

Bottom line

I loved it. Rose Madder is the go to book I would and have been recommending if you are looking for a place to start Stephen King books. It is not too big like some of his other works, so the size wont be as intimidating. But it might still haunt you at night.

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Have you read Rose Madder by Stephen King? What other King books have you read and which one blew your mind away? Let us talk.

34 responses to “Rose Madder by Stephen King: A book review”

  1. Believe it or not, I've never read a Stephen King novel AND I'm an avid reader. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion on this book!

  2. I like memoirs or historical fiction and I like thrillers too, but I don't do supernatural. I like things that are more realistic so I have never read a Stephen King book. Thanks for the honest review.

  3. I've never read Stephan King as I'm not into mystery or super natural stuff. Going by your honest and clear review, I'll not read it in future also 🙂 Thanks for the genuine review.

  4. I'm such a big Stephen King fan although I haven't read his newest books. I don't remember most of Rose Madder, although your review brought back some of it for me! I agree about not being as interested in the supernatural parts.

  5. I too never read a Stephen King book before, but this book actually seems quite interesting. Rose Madder seems like a great book. I hope, in the story, that Rose successfully got away from her abusive now ex-husband, before he kills her.

  6. I'm always intrigued by Stephen King although maybe I'm a bit like you, wanting to avoid the dark thoughts. I thought your review was great but would be better if there weren't missing words etc. I think you're a great writer but it reads a bit rushed.

  7. He's an amazing author and he has definitely written great books. I also don't like parts where it makes you feel like the author is dragging the story to make it longer when it could have ended as it is.

  8. I hate abusive husbands and I'd really like to see that there are stronger laws against them. I would love to read the book, although the supernatural part is somewhat inappropriate, I understand.

  9. Steven king does it again. He has been around for so long anf he still writes good boooks

  10. Okay, So I loved Koontz over King for a long time – I don't even read koontz anymore now. I read misery, desperation, and a few others. I just wasn't in love. I read the Gunslinger a year ago and didn't like it much. Recently, I gave #2 another go and IT WAS GREAT! I loved it! I might become a convert.

  11. I am a King fan myself. I do think he is a marvelous writer and understands the human condition in such depth. But I can understand not liking a book when you feel like it goes off the rails at the end, accounting for crazy things with some supernatural force too quickly without some explanation or anything else.

  12. It was a Stephen King book made movie that scared the daylights out of me during childhood. And it continues through today. There are many scarier writers out there, but King kind of shaped my life. Great read…I enjoyed it.

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