Monday, December 29, 2008

REVIEW: Duma Key

Title: Duma Key
Author: Stephen King
ISBN: 9781416552963/ Pocket Books, 2008
Protagonist: Edgar Freemantle
Setting: present-day Duma Key, Florida
Rating: A

First Line: Start with a blank surface.

Edgar Freemantle was a wealthy Minnesota builder until a construction site accident severed his right arm, broke his right leg and hip, scrambled his mind and destroyed his marriage. With his mind sending him into rages, Edgar decides to leave Minnesota for a year and recuperate elsewhere. He decides on Salmon Point, a big pink house right on the beach on Duma Key, Florida. For such a beautiful place, Duma Key is strangely undeveloped, but it's the perfect place for Edgar to heal, and to make friends with his neighbors: Elizabeth Eastlake, the old lady who owns Duma Key, and her caregiver, Wireman.

As Edgar heals, he begins to paint--feverishly, compulsively--and the talent his painting shows is as much a weapon as it is a wonder. You see...Edgar's creations are not just paintings but portals for the ghosts of Elizabeth's past to walk through.

I've been a fan of Stephen King since Carrie and Salem's Lot were published. One of my all-time favorite reading tales revolves around Salem's Lot. Although there was a period of years when I didn't read any of his books because I got the feeling they were cranked out on a conveyor belt, I've now gotten back in the habit. The major thing I've always enjoyed about King's writing is his voice. I always feel as though King is channeling that voice inside my head that says everything I'm thinking, whether or not I verbalize it. When there's a writer who's such a comfortable fit for your private interior monologues, it's impossible to stay away.

A heron makes several appearances in Duma Key, and King captures perfectly the thought I've always had about these birds:

Beyond the tangle, on a blue-tiled walk that presumably connected with the main courtyard, stalked a sharp-eyed heron. It looked both thoughtful and grim, but I never saw a one on the ground that didn't look like a Puritan elder considering which witch to burn next.

I was sucked into this story rapidly and didn't really come up for air until it was finished. Parts of it are still washing through my mind like the tides on Duma Key. The characters of Freemantle and Wireman were vividly portrayed and likable, and I really enjoyed their camaraderie. I do wish the character of Elizabeth Eastlake figured more into the story, but I was quite happy with what King gave me to read. It's not difficult to think that, in describing the pain that Freemantle had with his injuries, King was tapping into a familiar well of his own.

This paperback edition includes "The Cat from Hell", a bonus story from Just After Sunset.


  1. I read a lot of King some years ago, in fact The Stand is still one of my all time favourite books, but I haven't read any of his work for 10-15 years now. However this is the second glowing review of Duma Key I've seen in the past few days so I'm tempted to check it out. I will check to see if it's available in audio format 'cos it sounds like the sort of thing that might suit that format.

  2. Stephen King has to be one of my favorite authors. I do have 'Duma Key' on my shelf but after reading 'Lisey's Story' I was afraid he was loosing his a little bit. But yours is a secong review with an A rating so now I'm excited to read it.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!