Bag of Bones by Stephen King

1998. Scribner. Hardcover. 529 pages.

From: public library

Recommended by: Samantha of Booked on a Feeling


Bag of Bones is about a widowed author who retreats to his lakeside cabin only to find that the cabin is inhabited by at least one ghost. He also meets and falls for a young widowed mother and her daughter, who are threatened by the child’s wealthy paternal grandfather, who is seeking custody.

This is the second novel I’ve read by Stephen King. I read this horror novel in October, with the RIP (Readers in Peril) Challenge in mind, though I never officially signed up for it.

I have a soft spot for stories about men who become surrogate father figures, and so I loved that the relationship Mike Noonan and three-year-old Kyra Devore was at the forefront of the story.

I was not a fan of the disturbing graphic scenes, including one that is a weird sexual dream sequence and another that is a stomach-turning act of violence from the past that started a chain reaction of supernatural malevolence.

Stephen King’s writing is what I might call overstuffed. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Basically, his writing is a stew that he throws lots of ingredients into and some bites of it are better than others. There are observations about everyday life, about Maine, about writing, about spousal relationships. There are recurring references to other stories, from the first line of de Maurier’s Rebecca to a Ray Bradbury story about aliens. Some of the comparison, tangents, and whatnot work for me and others don’t, and it seems that might vary from reader to reader.

Excerpts from other book reviews:

Betsy’s Blog II – “The reader is drawn deep into the world of the characters while at the same time being swept along by the story – reading a Stephen King novel is something like stepping into a river and getting stuck in the current.”

The Lone Writer – “As a whole, King’s penchant for detail does serve a purpose but the monotony of it really slows the story down.”

Lovely Little Shelf – “overall I think that this is one of Stephen King’s stronger books even though it’s usually overlooked.”


Filed under Fantasy, Supernatural & Surreal, Mysteries & Thrillers

3 responses to “Bag of Bones by Stephen King

  1. I agree with what you say about King’s writing being overstuffed. He’s funny in that sometimes he can write and writes very well, at other times he’s just so… what… pretentious? A case in point: Needful Things, which I found overall to be a thoroughly good romp, but nearing the conclusion, when the world is coming to an end, there’s mass chaos, screaming in the streets etc. etc., the character Polly who has been poisoned is calmly amid this mayhem pontificating. “Well, I’ve been poisoned. That’s fair I suppose…” I don’t know about anyone else but when my flight or fight instinct is triggered I tend to speak in monosyllables and I certainly don’t pontificate. I loved the movie version of The Shining and saw King’s remake, which was certainly not improved by his control. It severely needed editing.

  2. Thanks for quoting my review (and for pointing out WordPress spell check doesn’t always help…LOL)! Doh! I fixed pension for penchant though since that’s what I meant.

    And I completely agree with your last paragraph about his writing being a bit too thick. I mentioned this in my review of his most recent book, 11/22/63, which I’m posting tomorrow on my site…and which strangely has a lot of the same characteristics of Bag of Bones which I thought made it a bit dry in places too.


  3. Susan – Yeah, there is this stop-in-your-tracks philosophical or musing interludes that sometimes just seem out of place with what’s happening. I actually haven’t seen the Shining or any film made from a Stephen King novel, I believe.

    Shannon – “Too thick” is a good way to put it. Btw, I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad about the typo! I liked the quote. I just updated my post to reflect the updating of your post. 🙂 I’ll check out your review of his most recent book!

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