For a die-hard King fan like me this book is a delight. Taking some cues from Frankenstein, with a little soupçon of Cthuluism towards the end, this is a really impressive tale of one man’s obsession with electricity told from the point of view of a very well-constructed and interesting main character. There are some really shocking scenes which delighted me in much the same way I was delighted with key scenes in Pet Semetary, It and Gerald’s Game for the sheer stomach churning moments of horror and revelation. Also it has one of the best climaxes that King (who to my mind has delivered a few floppy ends in his time) has ever delivered.
We follow the life of Jamie Morton as he progresses from a six-year-old playing in the dirt, to a young rock and roller, to a drug addict, to a miraculously cured drug addict courtesy of some secret electricity, to a recording studio sound technician. All the while the shadow of Charles Jacobs, the man with the unhealthy interest in all things electric, hangs over him; their lives cross paths every now and again and at each touchpoint we see how Jacobs’s obsession has become all-consuming.
I am keeping this as spoiler free as possible so let me just mention some general vibes from the book before telling you to just read it!
One theme that runs through the book is about the course of life itself and how small decisions can be impactful upon your development or future. Some sentimentality creeps in, but it is not too saccharine and helps the narrative wonderfully. You get a real sense of how invested both Morton and Jacobs are in the events that unfold because of what has happened to them over time. Another vibe is an anti-religious sentiment which for me was fine (a lot of my writing ends up the same way) but might offend some readers. Tough titty is what I say.
There are some references to other King stories as this is set near to Castle Rock (locale of many a King tale) and at one point involves travelling carnivals (so Joyland gets a mention). What it doesn’t do, for which I am eternally grateful, is reference The Dark Tower when it gets to a point where alternate realities are featured. The reality unveiled is more original and truly horrible than that featured in that series of books and I’m glad he seems to have finally moved on from there.
Anyway. You get the idea. King is back to cooking on gas (or should I say magic electric) and I implore you to read this book! (Unless you don’t like Stephen King, in that case why are you reading this…lol…)