How much does an author’s name influence your liking or disliking of a book, consciously or otherwise? How far would you go before it changes your opinion? And I got to finally pick up Elevation by Stephen King, who is one of my favorite authors. Read ahead to see how it worked out for me!
Set in the much beloved Castle Rock, the recent divorcee Scott Carey has a peculiar problem. He is constantly losing weight even though his form doesn’t change and he has been eating quite well.
He nor his doctor can find the reason and Scott doesn’t want to make a spectacle of himself by undergoing tests. What would happen to him when he finally reaches zero on the scale remains a mystery either of them.
Meanwhile his lesbian neighbors faces pressure from their conservative towners. While Scott doesn’t get along with them initially, he befriends them and tries to help them win over the others as well. What does it have to do with his losing weight?
You might have to read Elevation by Stephen King to know more.
Book review of Elevation
Obviously I picked Elevation because it was written by Stephen King and all the hype it received on the Goodreads. Well, he nor his writing disappointed me. I usually love him making his political stands in the story, even if they seem overdone sometimes. And well, I was given what I asked but the Castle Rock was color red? That was shocking.
I am not into Science Fiction, like at all. So I wasn’t prepared for sci-fi (I am being really generous about the label) to be sold as horror. It is not horror. I can’t believe how Elevation won the Goodreads Choice awards for horror in 2018. (What were you all thinking when you nominated/voted, people?)
Like many other books of his, it left me with a few unanswered questions. I wish it were a bit longer and gave a bit more depth to the characters. Well, I can only wish.
And to answer my own question, yes, I read and enjoyed Elevation only because of King’s name on it. And I can only wonder if I would have done either if it were someone else’s or even if it labelled correctly as fantasy, instead of horror.
Things that worked for me
I loved King’s not so subtle dig at the USA’s political scenario.
I liked the writing (obviously) and made me wish it was a bit longer.
It is not the usual “horror” that we are used to in Stephen King’s books, and it is not entirely bad thing.
Things that didn’t work for me
Well, it is not quite your usual King’s horror and it definitely not going to keep you awake all night.
If you are someone who wants politics away from reading, then this might be a distraction.
Elevation is a novella that will hold your attention and won’t haunt you like the other Stephen King’s. But that may not be entirely a good thing.
Dani from Perspective of a Writer gave us a prompt to discuss my Favorite Stephen King Character for the week. As most of you all might guessed that it is for the love of the King of horror that I jumped on to post for this meme. Let us get on to this shall we?
While it may not be the most popular of Stephen King’s novels, Rose Madder will always hold a special place in my mind. My relationship with Stephen King has not always been smooth and it was Rose Madder that made all the difference. So it might not come as a surprise that I would choose someone from it as a character I love…. to hate.
Yes you heard it right.
I choose a character that I completely hate yet I can’t ever push to some dark corner of my mind and forget about or move on from. Intrigued? Let us talk about Norman Daniels.
Who is Norman Daniels?
Norman Daniels is the antagonist of Rose Madder. Norman Daniels was a police officer in Aubreyville and married to Rose McClendon. The story majorly deals with how Rose escapes the clutches of the masochist and malevolent Norman, making Norman play a predominant role.
What makes Norman Daniels such a remarkable fictitious character?
Norman is sexually, physically and emotionally abusive towards his wife Rosie. He beats Rosie for reading a trashy book (brace yourself, Misery’s journey) so much that causes her miscarriage. Being a cop and having cop friends makes it easier for him to get away with it.
Rose doesn’t even dare to get away from him because she knows he will find her, for about nine more years. And even when she finally runs away, he finds her as she suspected.
He is racist, homophobic and also sexist
Norman Daniels is a crude redneck that hates more than half the population, quite literally. He hates everyone almost equally, be it women, gays, African Americans and the Jews. He bites homosexual men to death. He doesn’t think twice about killing a witness.
He is the sickest of fictional human monsters – ever
Norman Daniels makes the other Norman, from the Psycho and the Bates Motel look nice.
His favorite method of punishing men is to pop their testicles and/or bite them. He has already raped and murdered a witness and continues to punch, kick, bite and murder women and men alike as he stalks his runaway wife without remorse.
I can bet that one cannot read the opening scene of Rose Madder, that entails the scene of his beating, her miscarriage and him getting away with it, without wincing. I had to put my book down more than once to get over it.
He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He is one of the truest monsters not just of Stephen King’s creation but also in any book I have ever read /heard of.
He literally turns into an animal
As if this is not evil enough, he turns into a minotaur by the end of the book.
His rage and his obsession literally and figuratively changed him into a raging bull whn he finds out Rose ‘s location and that she is dating another man. He also realizes that she is supported by her lesbian friends at the women’s shelter. He murders them and rushes to Rose’s apartment where he almost kills Bill, Rose’s date.
If Norman Daniels was the worst ever, why and how did he become my favorite character?
Norman Daniels controlled the entire story
As one would expect of a Stephen King’s book, Rose Madder has its supernatural elements. While things are not picture perfect (pun intended) and the supernatural part was okayish at the best, at least for me, it was Norman that made the entire book strong.
Even when the macho Norman turns to a panic stricken human afraid for his life, I could not ignore him. The book would have worked so much better as a thriller/suspense about an abused woman and her crazy husband.
How many characters, in the entire Stephen King world of books, have had the power to make the book work even without the supernatural elements? None other than Norman Daniels, IMO.
And that to me, that is the mark of a character etched to perfection.
Who is your favorite character from Stephen King’s world? Do you have any antagonists that you cannot move on from? Have you read Rose Madder? Let us chat.
Love him or hate him but you can not get enough of him. He is everywhere these days – cinemas, Netflix and of course his books. We love his films as much as his books. We adore his quotes and novellas as do we his chilling book. Yes, I am talking about the one and only Stephen King. He turns 70 today, September 21, 2017. So what better way to celebrate his birthday than talking about my experience with him and sharing some of his quotes that I love.
My relationship with the King of Horror has not been smooth. I read my first King, Gerald’s Game when I was about twelve. Yes, yet another of those books I had laid my hands when I was not supposed to. I had just then ventured out of the Sidney Sheldon‘s, and the book was something I was not prepared for then. Or ever would be. I thought the plot was grotesque and horrifying. But the writing stuck to me, and I willed my way till the end courageously and was smart enough to avoid any of his works for a long time.
Years later, my then boss gifted me a copy of the Four Past Midnight, a collection of novellas for my birthday, and I used it as a bookend, terrified of the size of the book as well as the possible nightmares it might evoke for a while. As my fate would have it, someone placed a bet daring me to read the book. I read the first one One Past Midnight and had to drop off the challenge thanks to the terrifying nightmares.
It took another three years to convince me to try another King and this time the greed of getting more books pulled me in. A friend of mine, an ardent King’s fan, offered to give me some of his books if I read one of his favorites, Rose Madder. Read this to find what I thought about the book. And like they say, the rest is history. From then on there was no stopping me, and in the past two years I have read quite a few of his seventy, yes you heard it right 70, books.
Until I read Rose Madder, I had associated Stephen King to the horror and supernatural elements and the nightmares that follow, but this book made me fall for the writer that King is. I feel in love with his writing style, his attention to details and more than everything else, the way he can captivate the attention of the reader all through his crazy imagination spell. I admire the way he can make us adore a character that is necessarily sinister and make us realize it is the human nature that is more sinister than the supernatural elements.
With his success as a commercial writer who has a large following, his take on writing and writers have become even more famous than some of his books. His book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft should be on the compulsory read list for any budding writer. Here are some of my favorite quotes of his:
God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the tenacity to change what I may, and the good luck not to fuck up too often. ‘Salem’s Lot
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you find something at which you have talent, you do that thing (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes pop out of your head. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
For a King fan, it is a good time to be. This year has been great with the IT and The dark tower on the cinemas and The mist and Gerald’s Game (soon to be) on Netflix. So let me know what you think of the king of horror. Did I include all your favorite quotes? Wanna add anything? Share in the comments please.
Who in their right mind would reach out for a horror novel when they already know that they are not sleeping well at night? Who chases witches when they are being haunted by demons in their own nightmares? No one, except yours truly I suppose. But again how does one let go off a chance to read about the witches and their crafts, and probably have a bit of nightmare contributed by them as well? So how did Forsaken by J D Barker fare on the scare scale? Read more to find out.
Author: J D Barker
Genre: Fiction Paranormal
Characters: Thad, Rachael, Ashely McAlister, Clayton Stone, Christina
The story revolves around the McAlistair family – Thad a bestselling writer, Rachael his pregnant wife and their daughter Ashley, and a deal that was made years with the Forsaken by one of them unwittingly. Though Thad’s first novel failed to hit the roof, his second and third novels shoot him up to the stars. He barely questions it, even when he understands subconsciously something was amiss.
Rachael takes pride in her loving husband, adores her daughter Ashley and expects her second with equal zest. She has not quite forgotten the rough start they had and that her husband had cheated her once. When the Forsaken wants to take back what was promised to Her, they have to deal with it in their own respective way, separately. Do they give in to their weaknesses or they put their family first, forms the present day storyline?
The story that Thad writes set in the 17th century, rather a parallel universe, narrates about the life of the witch and how She ends up hunted. We are taken to the magical world where time is subjective and manipulatable by Her. Physical appearances are mere disguises and often deceptive. The narrator and the reader oscillate between the sides – the young girl whom the narrator is attracted to or the witch who haunts people. She much like the folktales forces people to sign their souls off with the blood. Who is real and where does the fiction stop and reality begin?
The novel alternates between different point of views and time-lines, which works pretty well. The pace of narration is consistent and doesn’t slacken a bit. The storyline might seem familiar and the climax quite a bit overused, but the real strength of the novel is the vivid description of the scenario and the terror that engulfs the McAlistair family. The author makes it look like we are watching a movie, a scary one at that. Realising the story uses a famous character from Stephen King‘s novel creates a thrill that only a fan would understand.
I am no scaredy cat in general, and the nightmares are something I have to accept as a part of the life of a horror addict. But just as I started reading Forsaken by J D Barker, I realised it was going to be much harder because it involves a pregnant woman and it somehow made me queasy. Thankfully, the writer did not take us down that road.
Despite all these strengths, I took a day more than usual to finish. Why? I couldn’t get to understand the characters, much less like them. I would have liked to have known the characters better and deeper, I felt they were pretty one dimensional. There was just a small part (less than a chapter) to explain the witch’s effect on the young girl, which could have been a tad longer and stronger. It might just be me, but I couldn’t help imagining ‘the minions’ from the ‘Despicable’ movies instead of the creepy, evil witch worshipers. My bad but I just could not.
For someone who is eagerly awaiting the release of the movie ‘IT’ and is gathering her wits to read the book, Forsaken acted as the right place to start. With an obvious and expected influence from Stephen King, Barker could be an author I might have to watch out. If you wanna read quick, fast, creepy thriller, I recommend Forsaken by J D Barker.
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.
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.
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.