Horror Fiction Book Review

Lisey's Story

(2006) Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, 18.99, hrdbk, 562pp, ISBN 0-340-89237-4,/p>


Given that, for me at least, the Dark Tower books became a bit tedious towards the end and that Cell was something of a disappointment, I have no hesitation in saying that Lisey's Story is the best book King has written in a while. Lisa Landon was married to an accomplished novelist for twenty-five years and only now, two years after his death, is she able to face clearing out his study. As she does so she realises that she's not yet done with grief, and also that she is repressing certain memories. Then she is catalysed to remember more when she is targeted by a man, a self-proclaimed fan of her late husband's work, who is trying to terrorise her into donating his unpublished manuscripts to a certain professor. However, it quickly becomes clear that stated aim has become secondary to hurting Lisey herself. What her persecutor fails to recognise is that Lisey has resources of her own with which she can face him - a talent first seen in her husband, and now latent within Lisey. She can journey to another dimension, a land her husband escaped too when he was a boy from an abusive father and from the madness that afflicts many members of his family.

This book falls somewhere between horror and that awful categorisation "magic realism" (as though 'fantasy' had become a dirty word). It is as much about family as anything else; Lisey and her sisters and parents, her husband and his father and brother. It's also about loss and grief and healing. The only thing that strains credulity somewhat is that Lisey could, or would even have bothered to, repress her memories of multiple journeys to an alternate reality, especially as nothing particularly bad or traumatic had happened to her on those visits. It seems to me that discovering a facility to travel to another dimension, and the mere fact of its existence, would be the kind of thing you'd have a tendency to remember, not to merely bury under the weight of your life. That caveat aside, this is the good ol' page-turning King experience his readers have come to know and value, and it does not disappoint.

Tony Chester

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