In my very long Stephen King reading history, it’s a rare book of his that I don’t enjoy (The Talisman, The Dark Half and The Regulators are the only books so far to really hold that distinction). While Bag of Bones doesn’t quite rate as one of his best for me, it’s definitely up there – I read this big, fat book in just two sittings, with Sara Laughs and the residents of the TR being so vividly rendered that I even dreamed about it after.
40 year old Mike Noonan is, like Mr King himself, a successful novelist – successful enough to own a lakeside summer home alongside his main residence. When his wife dies unexpectedly, Mike finds suffering from vivid nightmares set at said lakehouse, while in his waking life he can’t get past an acute case of writers’ block, and so he decides to take himself off to Sara Laughs in an effort to put both things behind him.
Once there, the fridge magnets that rearrange themselves, the ghostly bells that ring and the recurring sounds of a child crying quickly convince Mike that he’s not alone in his home. Meanwhile, a chance encounter with a young mother and child who are entangled in a vicious custody battle put Mike on a collision course with the extremely wealthy town bully. But as Mike slowly reappears from his fog of grief, it soon becomes apparent that his new friends and enemies are wrapped up in the exceedingly unpleasant history of his home’s namesake, and something wants payback.
With a low-key sense of dread permeating every page, King excelled once more at bringing a small town, it’s residents and it’s unpleasant secrets to vivid life. Never better than when exposing the darkness that lies inside human hearts, it’s this that keeps bringing me back to his books rather than the supernatural shenanigans. Here, the ghostly goings on only served to highlight this rather than detract attention, and gifted me with a book that really floated my boat.