A Summer of Kings

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about Stephen King and his family of writers entitled King of the Hill.

Each member of the family is a writer (of sorts): Tabitha his wife, sons Owen and Joe (who write under the last name of Hill). Owen’s wife Kelly Braffet and daughter Naomi. The reason I said “writers of sorts” is Naomi has not published a book, she write sermons. Believe or not, Stephen King’s daughter is a minister! Three members of the King family are releasing books this summer. Though I have not had a chance to read any of them (and I plan on it) here is a summary:

So let’s start with the King on the Hill, Stephen. I have been an avid readers of his since Carrie (M) was published in 1974. Yeah, I am showing my age a bit here but that is okay. Joyland is his latest in the long list of titles he has published. I saw an interview recently in which the host asked him why he still writes since he doesn’t need the money (one site has him worth more than $400 million). King answered that he just can’t stop. I really believe this is true.  

Joyland (M) has been receiving a lot of press not only because of its writer but for the fact that King is not going to release it in e-book form. This is not because he does not like the medium. In fact, King was a pioneer in the field of ebooks with Riding the Bullet which was exclusively released digitally in 2000. King is releasing Joyland through Hard Case Crime, a small imprint known for its stylistic throwback designs similar to the 1940 crime pulp novels.

“I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved paperbacks I grew up with as a kid and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book”

Joyland first entered King’s mind from an image he had over twenty years ago of a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. How anyone’s mind works, especially an author’s, is a mystery to me. So how King translated that idea into this book I am not sure. It is set at a North Carolina amusement park in 1973. A carny, Devin, confronts the legacy of a vicious murder and the fate of a dying child. The editor of the novel, Charles Ardai, has stated that the ending made him cry.

 © Danielle Lurie

Owen King’s latest, Double Feature (M), is a debut novel for Owen. His other publishing foray was a collection of three short stories and a novella written with 21 other authors entitled We’re All in This Together (M).

Double Feature has filmmaker Sam Dolan in a difficult relationship B-actor Booth Dolan, who happens to be his father. Sam, of course, blames his father for not being there for him, and for cheating on Sam’s mother, etc. One reviewer has stated of this book “I love a book that makes me feel strongly about the characters. Almost every character in this book I wanted to alternately hug and slap”. Just that review alone made me interested in reading this novel.

The first Joe Hill work I read was his graphic novel series Locke and Key (M). At that time I did not know that Joe was Stephen’s son. The more I read Joe’s stuff, the more I believe that he will surpass his father in time. His latest title, NOS4A2 (M), confused me for a while. You probably can tell I don’t “get” vanity license plates. So if you are like me it will take you a while to call this book Nosferatu, but you may be soon calling it one of your favourites!

Victoria McQueen has a special talent for finding things. One day she decides to go look for trouble and finds more than she bargained for! It comes in the shape of Charlie Manx. Manx drives through town in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with the vanity plate, NOS4A2. In his wake, he takes his innocent passengers out of the everyday world to a playground he calls Christmasland. And you can imagine, dear Reader, that not all is sugar and spice and everything nice.

So no matter if you read one or all of the King novels, this will definitely be a Summer of Kings!

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