Title: Rose Madder
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 471
Rose Madder seemed to drag by for me, which is a shame. Sure, King has a habit of blowing my mind with the word counts on his releases, but usually you still find yourself barreling through towards the end. With this one, I felt like I was forcing myself to finish it, although I will at least admit that it got better as time went on.
Loosely speaking, the story line follows a woman called Rose as she tries to escape from her abusive husband. Rose’s husband is a cop, and he likes to hit her in the kidneys so that the bruises don’t show. He’s a manipulative son of a bitch and he treats her horribly, and even when she finally plucks up the courage to leave him, she’s absolutely terrified.
Along the way, Rose makes a number of new friends and tries to get her life back on track, meeting a new man and purchasing a painting which ends up taking on a lot of significance within the story. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure why that part of the story line was even there, because it felt forced and distracted me from the overarching action. But if you like horror and realism mixed together, but with elements of magic thrown in, then perhaps this is the book for you.
For me, I thought it was an okay read, but I’d have trouble recommending this one ahead of any of the other Stephen King books that I’ve read. It felt like it could have been written by anyone, which usually wouldn’t be much of a criticism, but when it comes to Stephen King, I expected better. Although there were moments here and there where he was self-referential, like when he referenced ka and when he talked about the characters reading Paul Sheldon novels. Sheldon, if you didn’t know already, was the main character in Misery, the author who was imprisoned by his terrifying number one fan.
The alternate reality on the other side of the painting was also a little bit like the windows in King’s Dark Tower series, and while it was interesting to see King explore how events in one universe can affect events in another, it seemed out of place with the rest of the story line. It’s a bit like if you were reading a James Bond novel and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the bad guy whips out a magic wand and fires off the cruciatus curse.
Overall then, this is a professional quality book but it just lacks that certain something, that special spark of brilliance that makes a Stephen King book what it is. Read it if you want – it’s your call!