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.
I was overjoyed when I first read the Mr. King was collaborating with Richard Chizmar from Cemetery Dance Publications to return to Castle Rock.The advance reviews of Gwendy's Button Box were excellent. I just had to patiently wait for my turn in the library queue.
Today was the day. My husband walked in from work, and a side trip to the library, and handed me the book at 5:35pm. I drove right in. (Left overs are in the fridge.) Three hours later I had devoured the Button Box. I could not have put it down if I had wanted to and I very much did not want to.
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.
This is not a totally coherent review because I am very much in the afterglow of a gorgeous sumptuous read. I will be reading Gwendy's Button Box again over the weekend before it goes back to the library. I am seriously considering getting the audiobook. 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.