Book review: Rose Madder

I should start first off, saying I was not a huge fan of Stephen King‘s. Believe it or not, I have been having a half read Four Past Midnight for almost 5 years now in my bookshelf. Call me weak heart (people have), but I graciously passed chances of getting nightmares and left the book to pile under my other unread treasures.

Last week I helped a friend to pick a King book, and this piqued my curiosity and made me revisit my fears. I guess it was more of the greedy me looking forward to “borrow the book” from him (maybe return the book after I read it), the only condition I was given was to finish the book I already had.

Rose Madder

Long story short, two days and creepy and sleepless nights and 500 pages (and still at the half read status) later, I was pushed towards another King book – more scarier and one of the best they said. So here I am, giving a review of the Rose Madder . Am I a King convert? Read on to know more.

Book: Rose Madder

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Fiction – Horror, Supernatural

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

Setting: Aubreyville, The USA

I picked up the book after a gap of a week since I finished my other Stephen King, hence had had the nightmares finally stopped. I had guessed that this was going to be another scary supernatural thriller, since this book was “mentioned” to me repeatedly, “absolutely randomly,” but I was not prepared for the prologue.

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 (if you can call that 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.

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 I am not being the Stephen King fan that I should be, to understand its need.

I am sure will continue to read King. I totally love his writing style and narration.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  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. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!


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