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
Book: Rose Madder
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fiction – Horror, Supernatural
Main Characters: Rose McClendon Daniels, Norman Daniels, Bill Steiner
Setting: Aubreyville, The USA
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.
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
- I love the way King etched each character to perfection and almost every character is memorable.
- And Norman is easily one of my most hated antagonists of all time.
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.
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.
Similar Books and posts
- Elevation by Stephen King
- Forsaken by J D Barker
- Letter, The by Kathryn Hughes
- 10 Books with witches to make the best of Halloween!
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.