Gwendy's Button Box
Includes bonus story "The Music Room"
By Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Read by: Maggie Siff
INCLUDES A CONVERSATION BETWEEN STEPHEN KING & RICHARD CHIZMAR
My first visit to Castle Rock was in The Dead Zone, published in 1979. It was one of those towns, like Jerusalem's Lot, that when I made my first trip to Maine in 2006, I made sure were not on the itinerary. Nothing against either town but seriously messed up stuff happened to people there. But Castle Rock has been fairly quiet for a few years. Thanks to Richard Chizmar, Stephen King has woken Castle Rock up.
The box at the heart of this book contains chocolate (yea!), money (useful) and terrible powers. The owner of the box can invoke this powers at a cost to themselves. I cannot really say much more without giving away plot points. I will say had I been given the box I doubt I would have handled it as well as Gwendy. In true Stephen King style, the people are as horrifying as any monsters.
There were so many things I liked about Gwendy's Button Box starting with Gwendy. She is a wonderful character. One who as a teen deals well with the issues of peer pressure and fitting in. She fought her own battles and did not need a male to save her or validate her decisions. I loved the box and I was also terrified of the box. My jury is still out on the giver of the box. I haven't decided if he has cloven hooves or is some type of emissary of the gods.
It is a novella, 164 pages, and a quick read but an immensely satisfying one. In my experience a satisfying Stephen King read is one that pulls you, leaves you breathless, and invites to come back and see what you missed in your first intense read.
The bonus story “The Music Room” was vintage Stephen King. Ordinary people, ordinary lives, everyday objects combined to be completely terrifying. The conversation between King and Chizmar was an interesting lesson in how collaboration works. The bonus story and the author’s conversation are a good incentive for getting the audiobook in addition to or instead of the book.
The audiobook was fantastic. Maggie Siff does a great job narrating. She carries Gwendy’s voice from adolescent to adult. The male voices, including the man with the box, are very well done. This is one I will listen to again and again. Under three hours, a rich and complex story, great narration make it one to return to.