Review: Duma Key

Duma Key

Duma Key
By Stephen King
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416552512, January 2008, 624pp.)

The Short of It:

Once again, King pulls you in with his vivid imagination, colorful characters and wry sense of humor. This is “classic” King.

The Rest of It:

I’ve got a thing for King. I like to read him in between my heavier reads, and I always save him for long breaks. I spent my July 4th weekend curled-up with Duma Key, and let me tell you, it was wonderful!

After surviving a construction accident that nearly kills him, Edgar is forced to come to terms with his new life. Left with one arm and angry as all get out, Edgar is not pleasant to be around. His wife has decided to leave him, and his grown daughters aren’t sure what to make of their new dad. On the recommendation of his doctors and close friends, Edgar rents a house on Duma Key’s Florida coast. There, his phantom arm continues to remind him of what was, but he gains a skill which he never had before; he becomes an artist. At first he is startled, but as the paintings begin to tell a story, he becomes frightened.

Why I loved this book:

  1. Memorable characters. This may be my favorite King yet. I fell in love with Wireman and Jack. These are Edgar’s friends on Duma and they make this good read, great.
  2. The setting. The sounds of the ocean, the color of the sunsets all play a role in this story. I had no trouble visualizing Duma Key’s strip of coastline and that’s saying a lot because Duma Key does not exist.
  3. Very little gore. I know a lot of you shy away from King because you have this image in your head that he is all about gore. That’s not true. Yes, he does have a vivid imagination and his stories often have horrific scenes in them, but he plays upon your insecurities and he does it well. That’s why his books have the effect that they do. Given what I just said, the images created in this one are very mild compared to some of his other books. Mild, but still memorable.
  4. There’s supernatural stuff going on. Some ghostly in nature, a bit of intuition and a lot of premonition.
  5. There were no slow spots. This book is a chunkster, weighing in at 600+ pages yet I didn’t notice its length at all. It was steady reading throughout and there were many times where I didn’t want to put it down.
  6. It’s “classic” King. Meaning, it’s the way he used to write when I first started reading him (late 80’s). After his accident in 1999, which involved being struck by a minivan, countless operations and several physical therapy sessions, his books took on a different tone. I didn’t care for that tone. I still read his work because I am a constant reader (what he calls his fans) but I didn’t care for it.  Duma Key, was written at the end of that phase (imo) and he returned to his classic style of writing.

When I mentioned that I was reading this one, a lot of you said that you were looking forward to the audio version. I imagine it would be wonderful on audio, but there is something special about reading a book like this and picturing these characters yourself. Yes, I know you can do that with audio (to a degree) but I’m sure my image of Wireman would be completely different on audio. It would be an interesting test, that’s for sure.

Needless to say, I added this to my list of faves for this year even though it’s not literary or considered one of those “must-read-before-you-die” books. I am adding this one purely for the characters. I was so sad to say goodbye to them.

Source: Borrowed.

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23 Responses

  1. I completely trust you on this one…I know you love Uncle Stevie the way I do. Did you read Under the Dome? I think you did. I listened to that on audio and it was really good. King is an audio addict, and I have to think that he is INVOLVED in who narrates. At least I hope so. So I will try to get this one on audio. Nobody does characters and sinister undercurrents like him. I just wrote a review for Michael Koryta’s “The Ridge” last night, and I was talking about this very thing. His brand of terror is more insidious than body parts flying everywhere.

  2. Funny you should mention this book because, while making a quick trip to WALMART with my mother for some cheap eats, I pointed this book out to her. She bought it and, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard nothing but comments about this book. She really liked how it ended but, up until then, all I heard was “It’s so bizarre! But it’s good!”

    Glad you liked it. Perhaps I should borrow the book from my mum…

    • Parts of it were bizarre, but not nearly as bizarre as he previous stuff. I was a good mix of weirdness and great characters. I suspect that his experiences after his real-life injury played a big role in the writing of this book.

  3. I love what you call King’s “classic” style. I have skipped several of his books because I didn’t like the way his writing was heading after his accident. Good to hear that DUMA KEY harks back to the old ways. I’ve got this one on my Kindle as well as UNDER THE DOME. They sounds like good winter reads for me.

  4. I have not read his books in a while…but this makes me want to visit him again.

    • I think you’d like this one. There is quite a bit of an “art” scene given that the main character becomes an artist and it is set in Florida. No good food to mention though. In fact, the food mentioned is more what you’d reach for if you had a major case of the munchies :)

  5. I trust you also! I’ll get this one!

  6. I’m a huge Kind fan. I’m a “constant reader” but I had problems getting into this book. Perhaps I need to give it another try. I’m reading King’s Just After Sunset and so far its OK. I’m looking forward to receiving his newest novel 11/23/63 in November.

    • I can’t wait to read his newest novel! My other friend said she had a hard time getting into Duma. She said it was too long. I don’t care for too many details myself but I didn’t get that with this one. I have yet to read Sunset. It’s on the list.

  7. It’s been so long since I’ve read a King book. This just may be the one to bring me back.

  8. I’ve always been kind of afraid to try King’s work – I don’t like horror and I’m afraid it might keep me awake at night. I’m starting to feel like I need to get over my fear.

    • Fiction never keeps me awake at night. However, the news? Every time. I don’t think this one would keep you awake. And actually, this one didn’t even have “language” to speak of. It was pretty clean in that dept. Sure, a few cuss words but nothing overly offensive.

  9. I’ve never read a King book. There, I said it. I’ve wanted to, I even have one of his books at home. It’s the gore, as you say, and then the size of most books that intimidate me. But I hope to read him some time for sure.

  10. Whoot! This sounds terrific. I do have this one and Under the Dome on my Kindle. Maybe this fall for RIP challenge.

  11. I had to pop in to say good luck with Carmageddon tomorrow.

  12. i love that you are such a king fan. he has such a warm place in my heart–i really became a huge fan when i was in high school and devoured his books. i come back to him every now and again and do love his characters and style. i didn’t love lisey’s story but did really like cell. i’ve seen this one at the library and now have so much free time (summer vacation) that i’ll be sure to pick it up when i pop in next. :)

  13. Your bullet points convinced me that I need to read this one!! Excellent review and I’m willing to give King another chance :D

  14. [...] 37. The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine 38. Pearl of China by Anchee Min 39. Duma Key by Stephen King 40. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu 41. Before [...]

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