GERALD'S GAME

King takes it over the top, way over the top, in an exquisitely horrifying frightfest about a woman forced to face her deepest fears—and then some.

Jessie Burlingame, 39, is getting plenty tired of being handcuffed to the bed of her Maine summerhouse by her attorney-husband, Gerald, so that he can play his silly sex games. So when Gerald refuses to uncuff her, she kicks him in the family jewels, accidentally smashing them to kingdom come—and the terror begins. Each hand cuffed to a bedpost, the keys out of reach, Jessie howls for help—and is answered by a feral dog that proceeds to chow down on Gerald's face in lavishly described, muscle-shredding detail. As the long hours pass, cramps bite like iron jaws into Jessie's own flesh; but they're nothing compared to the thirst raging through her. Can she somehow reach the glass of water on the shelf above her head? It takes the most tightly controlled writing King's ever done to find out, but soon even the thirst pales beside the guilt-gargoyles that Jessie's mind begins to throw up, all pointing at the sun-eclipsed day so long ago when she became much more to Daddy than just his little girl. The minutes tick by, each an agony—and King's just warming up. Night falls: What's that shadow in the corner? The one with the smirking face of Death? And how can Jessie, growing into a heartbreakingly brave heroine, escape? She tugs and tugs at her wrists but can't slip them past the cuffs. Is there a hot, sticky lubricant at hand? He's not really going to describe that, is he? But, with a ferocious gleam in his eye, King does, out-splatterpunking everyone else on the planet in a tour de force that—even given some overindulgent psychologizing, awfully strong echoes of Cujo and Misery, and a long, peculiar anticlimax—is his most wrenching novel to date.

This one is really scary.

Pub Date: July 13, 1992

ISBN: 0451176464

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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