Title: Lisey’s Story
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 690
Lisey’s Story was the final book that I picked up during my Dyslexia Action charity readathon – in fact, I started it in the last hour, after I’d already been reading for 23 hours. You’d forgive me, then, if I struggled to enjoy it.
But I didn’t. I was hooked already after the first hour, a mere 70 pages in to what I will admit is a hell of a chunky book – when I started it, I even worried that the weight of the book or the amount of space that it took up might act against it, but it was comfortable enough to read and if it took up some extra space in my rucksack then it was worth it.
The novel, which is one of King’s more recent publications, tells the story of Lisey Landon and her struggle to deal with the death of her husband, a writer with a mysterious past that he never really talked about. He kept it quiet for a reason, because it turns out that the Landons are very fast healers. I’ll say no more than that, on the subject.
As if dealing with her feelings about her husband’s death wasn’t enough, Lisey has some other problems to contend with – there’s a killer on the loose, and he’s after her, and after her husband’s manuscripts. On top of that, one of her sisters is having a mental breakdown, and her madness is somehow interlinked with her past.
The story is a complicated, intricate one, and I haven’t even started to talk about the fictional world of Boo’ya Moon. I don’t want to go in to too much detail because I don’t think I could do it justice, but let’s just say that King has a gift for creating a story that’s self-referential, and which seems to continue to evolve throughout.
It means that even though it’s a long, long novel, it continues to grip you, and after King spends a couple of hundred pages filling the reader with questions, he ends it on a grand unveiling which reveals everything. Or at least, almost everything.
One of the most impressive aspects of the novel, though, is the way in which Scott Landon manages to be a major character, despite dying before the novel begins. It reminds me a little bit of how Chuck Palahniuk highlighted Rant in the novel of the same name – it’s an interesting experience, to get to know a character well even though you only discovered them after their death.
The ending has a bit of a twist to it, too – this isn’t exactly a typical Stephen King novel, because it’s nowhere near as scary or intense as some of his others, and it also has an experimental side that he’s touched on before in other stories. That’s good though, and you’re going to get hooked by this novel even if you prefer his more traditional horror – personally, I found that it made for a refreshing change, and it allowed me to see King in a different light.
You see, it turns out that he really is a cracking writer, and that he’s earned the success that’s been thrust upon him. Not many writers achieve a level of skill that allows them to match the hype – most seem distinctly underwhelming when you read more and more of their work, but King is constantly surprising. He has a knack for building his own legend with stereotypes, and then breaking those stereotypes for literary effect.
All in all, while this might not threaten Stephen King’s more iconic books, notably The Green Mile and The Shining (the sequel is even better), and so you should probably get those out of your system first. Then move on to Lisey’s Story as soon as you get a chance, because it’s well worth it and you’ll enjoy it, for sure. Especially if you’re interested in how writers work, because in the character of Scott Landon you get a glimpse at a reflection of Stephen King through his mannerisms and attitudes.