CUJO

King goes non-supernatural this time—and the result, despite the usual padding, is a tighter, more effective horror novel. We are once more up in Castle Rock, Maine, ayuh, where the natives are striving to survive some earlier King visitations of the unspeakable. Recent arrival Vic Trenton, who has brought a big ad account with him from New York, is having a hard time hanging onto both the Sharp cereals campaign and his wife Donna, who has just severed an affair with a filthy-poet/furniture-stripper. Meanwhile: Joe Camber, an alcoholic auto mechanic, is angry at wife Charity for wanting to take their son Brett on a visit to her folks (he's afraid Brett will get a taste of sane family life that will show up Joe's madness), but finally—figuring that he'll have a hot time while she's gone—Joe agrees. And all of this sets the scene for some big, extended horror sequences hi Joe's yard. You see, Brett's 200-pound St. Bernard ("Cujo") has chased a rabbit into a big hole also occupied by bats, and a rabid bat bites Cujo's nose. Soon the dog is acting queerly, slavering, and going mad with a headache that warps his thinking about men: Cujo is lost in a mist and can't be found the day Charity and Brett leave. The first to die is Joe's buddy Gary Pervier—who lives just down at the foot of the hill from Camber's yard and crosses Cujo hi his own yard. Later, when Joe finds Gary's body he himself has but two minutes or so to live. And next Donna's car breaks down, so she drives it into Camber's yard with her four-year-old Tad: they're attacked in their car and kept there for three days, even after an investigating cop is killed. Finally, then, there's the dog-versus-woman showdown as savaged Donna, now half-crazed, kills Cujo with a ballbat—but it's too late to save Tad, whose heart gives out. . . . The inevitable film is going to be hard on St. Bernards and may even seriously affect their good-guy image. But, the ASPCA notwithstanding, there's no denying that King's three-day vigil in the carnage has a solid hook that will hold his fans; and his Maine humors do offer witty relief. so once again. . . the moola will flow.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1981

ISBN: 0451161351

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1981

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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