Stephen King’s new novel, Duma Key, arrives in stores nationwide in January 2008. As soon as it was announced, readers began trying to guess what the book would be about.
The title itself is highly interesting. My first guess was that the novel would be about a key, like a door key. Or maybe a key on a map. Given the fact that The DaVinci Code seems to still be on everyone’s mind, I had to recognize the fact that perhaps the key – especially when paired with the name Duma, which sounds close to Alexander Dumas – might have some literary bearing. I thought maybe the book would be a literary mystery of sorts.
Now that the actual subject matter the book has been released, I find that I was wrong on all counts. The “key” referred to by the book actually turns out to be one of the small islands off the coast of Florida.
And the story sounds even more mysterious than I would have imagined. It sounds like it’s going to be one of those delicious, Twilight Zone-type of tales that King delivers every so often when he’s in the mood. The story also smacks of King’s own life. I love his writing when he veers off into something that could have been carved from his own experiences.
At first blush, Duma Key stands prepared to deliver exactly that.
The protagonist of the book is self-made millionaire Edgar Freemantle, a mover and a shaker in the construction business. While on the job, Edgar gets hurt and crippled. A crane smashes his truck and he loses an arm in the subsequent operations to save his life. Edgar struggles to get rehabilitated and adjust to his life, and I know a lot of what King went through after being struck by a negligent driver has to be in those pages.
Unable to get his life together, Edgar turns on his wife and family. After he attacks her and tries to kill her, his wife asks for a divorce. Edgar divides up his money among his family and seeks counseling. His counselor asks Edgar if there wasn’t something that he used to do that took the edge of during periods of stress. Edgar says that he used to draw. The counselor advises him to do that.
King deserts the familiar bleak countryside of Maine (although Edgar is from Minnesota) and sends his protagonist looking for solace and sanity down in the Florida Keys. Apparently, King has been vacationing down in that area for the last few years and has become quite enamored of it.
Unfortunately for Edgar, he’s a Stephen King character in a Stephen King book. He’s earmarked for weirdness and horrible things. It doesn’t sound like it takes long to happen.
Evidently Duma Key is already filled with restless malevolence just waiting to break loose. The island’s mistress, Elizabeth Eastlake, has been hiding secrets for most of her eighty-some-odd years. Her past – and it has to be a good one filled with evil things and twisted passions, otherwise this wouldn’t be a proper King novel – breaks free and comes to life through Edgar’s paintings.
Of course, the idea of paintings coming to life is old, and King has even touched on it now and again in different places, but the idea is as wonderful now as it ever was. And in the hands of a master storyteller like King, this is going to be one chilling, frightening ride.
King has stated that this novel came to him from the same cloth he used to write the bestseller, Lisey’s Story, and that many of the same themes are once again present. It’s also a big, fat book, totally nearly 600 pages, according to the Amazon.com listing.
Personally, I can’t wait. Some people prefer the Stephen King who brings evil up from the graveyards and creates unkillable monsters. But I prefer the subtle evil and rich characterizations of his novels like Bag of Bones. I get the sense that this is going to be a book like that.
One thing I do know, the next few months are going to be hard to get through while I’m waiting. The book cover is beautiful and haunting, and I’m going to be thinking about the story a lot. I’m sure other readers will be doing the same thing.Powered by Sidelines