Duma Key by Stephen King
After a debilitating job-site accident wealthy contractor Edgar Freemantle is left with one arm, a barely functioning hip, and scrambled mental faculties. When he threatens his wife’s life with a plastic knife and she decides that she can take no more, his therapist suggests a change of scenery. So begins Freemantle’s second life: in a big pink house on Duma Key, Florida he discovers a latent talent for painting and a supernatural mystery that’s been haunting the island for nearly a century. As his skill grows, along with powers seemingly granted by his missing arm, so does the danger to everyone he loves.
Quite simply, this is King at his best. The supernatural elements are as strong and sinister as those in It or ‘Salem’s Lot. Freemantle’s friendships with former-lawyer-with-a-current-brain-injury Wireman, college student Jack, and Elizabeth Eastlake are as rich as any he’s ever written. There are insights on art and creativity that could just as easily have come from his non-fiction work On Writing. King draws much from his own struggle to recover artistically from being hit by a van and his experiences as an artist and father. The mythology, the textural details of the Florida locale, the peek into the world of visual arts..it’s really good, you guys. That’s what I’m saying.
The way the dread builds from mere despair to out-and-out unstoppable horror is unparalleled. How King found somewhere lower than “suicidal divorcé amputee” to take his main character, and made me enjoy it, is a spectacular mystery for the ages. I stayed up all night reading this one, and I could see myself doing it again.
I have no complaints with the novel, but I did see a Goodreads reviewer call it “sentimental” (as a negative trait). The novel is sentimental, about art and family and loss and recovery, I just don’t agree that that’s a bad thing.