Bag of Bones is partly inspired by Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca, but there's more than homage in this novel of horror and romance. Like du Maurier's Manderley, King's scary old place (on the shore of Maine's remote Dark Score Lake) is haunted by the late lady of the manor. There are many gory ghosts afoot, though: men, women, and wailing kids. The hero, a thriller novelist, stirs up hell's plenty of angry shades while investigating his wife's death. It turns out she either had a dark secret herself or was onto some dread scandal lurking in Dark Score Lake. As in King's previous book, Wizard and Glass, the fabric of reality is thin, and nosy narrators are in peril of plunging right out of this world and into a rather hostile otherworld.
Bag of Bones is a writer-haunted book, too. The spirits of Herman Melville and Ray Bradbury are deeply felt, and so are the tale's two romances (the hero muses on his marriage and falls for a young single mom with a marvelous, psychic daughter). There is also good-humored satire of the real bestseller book world--the hero complains that "the publicity process is like going to a sushi bar where you're the sushi." In its deep concerns with love, sprawling families, the writer's life, endangered children, and good old-fashioned storytelling, the book resembles a John Irving novel. It is also absolutely classic Stephen King, packed with nifty turns of phrase, irreverent wit, and lurid ghouls who grab you from beneath the bed while you cower under the covers. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Amazon.com Audio Review
No longer content to be the prolific provider of text, King grabs the audio reigns to recount this haunted tale of grief, young love, and otherworldly visits. When 40-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan returns to his lakeside cabin to process his wife's death, he finds the place a beacon for nightmares and ghoulish visits. But there's hope in Kingsville, as this struggling writer falls in love with a young widow named Mattie and her 3-year-old psychic daughter, Kyra. If you've never heard King speak, be warned: 19-plus hours of his western Maine, nasal-drenched tones may be more than some listeners can bear. But there's a certain warmth and believability to King's voice--after all, it's his book and he is a middle-aged bestselling novelist--that jive well with Noonan's character. And since King rarely reads his own work, perhaps his doing so indicates that he's especially pleased with Bag of Bones; most listeners should be as well. (Running time: 19.5 hours, 14 cassettes) --Rob McDonald
Amazon.com Author Profile
Read about the author. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Carrying galley copy that avoids the h(orror) word while touting its "O. Henry Award-winning author," King's latest novel features a marketing campaign in accord with the distinguished pedigree of his new publisher. But has King written a book that ranks him as a literary heavyweight? Indeed he has, though not by forsaking his roots: the novel is a classic ghost story. It opens quietly as narrator Mike Noonan, 40, bestselling author of romantic suspense potboilers (and latest in a line of King novelist-heroes, cf. Misery and The Dark Half) describes the death of his wife four years back and his consequent grief and writer's block. Mike has kept the block hidden from the publishing world?limned in delicious detail, with real names?by annually pulling one of his own, unpublished mss. from a safe-deposit box. Now that he's out of old novels to submit, he resolves to work through his troubles at Sara Laughs, his country house in backwoods Maine. Arriving there, Mike nearly drives over a three-year-old girl. She is Kyra, granddaughter?by way of beautiful young widow Mattie?of mad computer mogul Max Devore, who is hellbent on snatching the girl from her mother. Taking up Kyra's cause, falling in love with Mattie, Mike gears up for a custody battle. Invigorated, he breaks through his writer's block; but great danger, psychological and physical, awaits, from Max Devore but especially from the spirits, mostly malevolent, that haunt Sara Laughs due to hideous crimes committed by Devore's ancestor a century earlier. Violence, natural and supernatural, ensues as past and present mix, culminating in a torrent of climaxes that bind and illuminate the novel's many mysteries. From his mint-fresh etching of spooky rural Maine to his masterful pacing and deft handling of numerous themes, particularly of the fragility of our constructs about reality and of love's ability to mend rifts in those constructs, this is one of King's most accomplished novels. It is his most personal as well, revealing through Mike's broodings the intimacies of the creative writing process: a passionate gift from a veteran author to all who care about the art and craft of storytelling. 1.26 million first printing; BOMC main selection (Sept.) FYI: Bag of Bones is the only hardcover Scribner will publish in September.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Four years after the death of his beloved wife, Jo, novelist Mike Noonan is ready to do something about his prolonged writer's block and his intense nightmares, which feature his summer cottage on Dark Score Lake in rural Maine. He returns to the cottage, called Sara Laughs, and upon moving in, his life is taken up with various supernatural experiences. He also falls in love with a young widow and her three-year-old daughter, begins writing again, and discovers dark undercurrents at work in his seemingly tranquil community. King's (The Gunslinger, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/15/98) strength here, as always, is weaving a compelling story of the supernatural into the apparent normalcy of everyday life. His reading of this novel is at best a mixed bag (no pun intended), lacking the resonance and character/voice differentiation that we would find in the performance of a professional reader, but, and not surprisingly, he does have the regionalism of the rural Maine voice nailed. In any case, this program will be extremely popular. Recommended.?Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The New York Times Book Review, Daniel Mendelsohn
Happily, Bag of Bones is, for extended stretches, as good a read as many of the old, "straight" horror novels, but in the end it can't decide whether it wants to be a serious work of literary fiction or a horror blockbuster. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Entertainment Weekly, Tom De Haven
...King's most narratively subversive fiction.... Popular fiction just doesn't get any weirder than this. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Wall Street Journal, Bob Hughes
Mr. King makes palpable the longing and regret that arise out of calamity, and deftly renders the kindness and pettiness that can mark small-town life. What is more, he creates a fully realized world in which a character whose efforts to remain lucid when confronted with the malevolence and the blessing of the paranormal seems both plausible and hopeful. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Merle Rubin
Stephen King's admirers--and fans of plot-dependent writing--advise us to ignore high-brow stuff like prose style and focus on the story. Although I try to refrain from reciting plot summaries, the sheer slovenliness of this one is hard to convey by any other means. If this hodgepodge passes for skillful storytelling, I'd hate to imagine what constitutes inept. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The devil is in the details." After the sudden death of his wife, successful author Mike Noonan is acutely aware of details--the ephemera of her life, the vivid images of his dreams, questions about the last months before her death. Author/narrator King uses careful scene-setting to lead us into the sensible, rational world of Noonan's home and family. Then, he slowly moves into an unreal world where the coincidences become spooky events and shadowy spirits, both good and evil, emerge. The slow revelation is so chilling it gets under your skin and drives the story. Noonan's efforts to help a young woman and her child become a key to dark secrets in their lakeside community. ÊÊÊÊKing's twangy voice takes some getting used to, but he's deft with the Maine accents, the conventions of speech and the endearing jumbled speech of 4-year-old Kira Devore. King has what he calls the "temperature gradient" of the characters and indeed he conveys this with precision. The slightly unpolished delivery, an occasional hesitancy and a storyteller's intimacy make the first-person narrative especially real. The program is enhanced with great blues music, and King even sings a few bars. These additions are thoughtful and don't overshadow or divert at all. Another unique audio feature is a substantial interview between producer Eve Beglarian and King after the novel's conclusion. Lively and informal, it's almost as if King has stopped by your book group to talk about his new book. This new novel is a treat both for King fans and for listeners who haven't read his work. King's brilliance at storytelling has never been better. R.F.W. ©AudioFile, Portland, Maine
It never rains but . . . First, 35-year-old pop novelist Mike Noonan's wife, Joanne, dies suddenly. Then, no sooner does he finish his current book-in-progress than he comes down with severe writer's block. How severe? How about sweating, chest pains, and, finally, explosive vomiting when Mike merely looks at his word-processing program? Fortunately, Mike has three complete, unsubmitted yarns in a safety deposit box, so his one-a-year schedule isn't immediately disrupted, and he doesn't have to tell anybody he is hung up. As the fourth year winds down, Mike revisits the lake place he and Jo kept and, after meeting a little girl and her young, widowed mother, stays on. Which puts him in harm's way, for he hears voices in and around the place--a child crying and Jo's voice, too--and his new friends are menaced by the richest man in town, the dead father's father, who wants to take the child from the mother and who, despite being old and wheelchair-bound, is as good at ultraviolence as any King heavy. Except in word count, this is half the book that one of King's best (e.g., 'Salem's Lot, Delores Claiborne) is, or that the classic ghost romance that haunts Mike, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, is. King's attempt to write an American lumpen bourgeois cognate to du Maurier's masterpiece founders because of a couple of his constant temptations: too many words and too much vulgarity. But remember, this is a Stephen King book: libraries have to have it. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Leaving Viking for the storied literary patina of Scribner, current or not, King seemingly strives on the page for a less vulgar gloss. And he eases from horror into romantic suspense, while adding dollops of the supernatural. The probable model: structural echoes of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca do sound forth, although King never writes one paragraph herein to match du Maurier's opening moonscapes of Manderley. What comes through nevertheless is a strong pull to upgrade his style and storytelling in this his 50th year. Yes, he actually does write better if with less energy and power than in Desperation (1996). In fact, attacking the race problem in lily-white Maine, he even assumes an almost Dreiserian seriousness in his final paragraphs. Well, the story: romantic-suspense novelist Michael Noonan, who summers in Castle Rock on Dark Score Lake, falls into a four-year writer's block when his wife Johanna dies of a brain blowout. Now 40 and childless, Mike has salted away four extra novel manuscripts in his safe-deposit box, one of them 11 years old (shades of Richard Bachman!), and keeps up a pretense of productivity by publishing a ``new'' novel each year. Meanwhile, he finds himself falling for Mattie Devore, a widowed mother half his age. Mattie's late husband is the son of still-thriving half-billionaire computer king Max Devore, 85 years old and monstrous, who plans to gain possession of Mattie's three-year-old daughter, the banally drawn Kyra. Mike's first big question: Did Johanna cuckold him during his long hours writing? If so, will her character reverse our understanding of her, as does Rebecca de Winter's? And how can he help Mattie fight off Max and keep Kyra? The supernatural elements, largely reserved for the interracial climax, are Standard King but fairly mild. Philosophically limited but a promising artistic shift for a writer who tried something like this with 1995's failure, Rose Madder. (First printing of 1,700,000; Book-of-the-Month Club main selection; $1,000,000+ ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Mademoiselle This is King at his clever, terrifying best. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Stephen King's most gripping and unforgettable novel, Bag of Bones, is a story of grief and lost love's enduring bonds, of a new love haunted by the secrets of the past, of an innocent child caught in a terrible crossfire.
Set in the Maine territory King has made mythic, Bag of Bones recounts the plight of forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, who is unable to stop grieving even four years after the sudden death of his wife, Jo, and who can no longer hear to face the blank screen of his word processor.
Now his nights are plagued by vivid nightmares of the house by the lake. Despite these dreams, or perhaps because of them, Mike finally returns to Sara Laughs, the Noonan's isolated summer home.
He finds his beloved Yankee town familiar on its surface, but much changed underneath -- held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, who twists the very fabric of the community to his purpose: to take his three-year-old granddaughter away from her widowed young mother. As Mike is drawn into their struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations, ever-escalating nightmares, and the sudden recovery of his writing ability. What are the forces that have been unleashed here -- and what do they want of Mike Noonan?
As vivid and enthralling as King's most enduring works, Bag of Bones resonates with what Amy Tan calls "the witty and obsessive voice of King's powerful imagination." It's no secret that King is our most mesmerizing storyteller. In Bag of Bones -- described by Gloria Naylor as "a love story about the dark places within us all" -- he proves to be one of our most moving.
Stephen King's most gripping and unforgettable novel, "Bag of Bones, " is a story of grief and a lost love's enduring bonds, of a new love haunted by the secrets of the past, of an innocent child caught in a terrible crossfire. Set in the Maine territory King has made mythic, "Bag of Bones" recounts the plight of 40-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, who is unable to stop grieving even four years after the sudden death of his wife, Jo, and who can no longer bear to face the blank screen of his word processor. Now his nights are plagued by vivid nightmares of the house by the lake. Despite these dreams, or perhaps because of them, Mike finally returns to Sara Laughs, the Noonans' isolated summer home. He finds his beloved Yankee town familiar on its surface, but much changed underneath -- held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, who twists the very fabric of the community to his purpose: to take his three-year-old granddaughter away from her widowed young mother. As Mike is drawn into their struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations, ever-escalating nightmares, and the sudden recovery of his writing ability. What are the forces that have been unleashed here -- and what do they want of Mike Noonan?
About the Author
Stephen King is the O. Henry Award-winning author of more than thirty books, including The Shining, The Stand, The Green Mile, and the stories on which the Academy Award-nominated films Carrie, Stand by Me, and Shawshank Redemption are based. his most recent volume in the Dark Tower series is Wizard and Glass. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.