BOOK REVIEW: Elevation by Stephen King

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Elevation is a great book. It is of course written by the master of horror Stephen King, so we are already quite excited about what is on offer, but with Elevation we have King at his oh so weird and oh so pleasant.

Elevation is not a straight out horror, let me get that on the table before we start. It is though a beautifully crafted tale of weird, speculative fiction which reminded me of the tone he set in The Green Mile – restrained, deep, thoughtful and a story of someones life unravelling before them like a ball of twine, running away before them as they pull at the string in their hands, trying for all their efforts to pull it back in, but they continue to struggle in vain – as the twine rolls away and gathers momentum.

I have to be honest when I started reading the book I was thinking that it was a re-imagining of Thinner, minus the Gypsy with his rotten nose and curses. Who would blame me, King has written so much that he surely must be running out of ideas? Right? Wrong. The more you delve into this story the more you see it for what it is – a fabulously constructed tale that has only one inevitable outcome, but as a reader you can’t help but read on.

Elevation is set in the small town of Castle Rock – fans of King will know that this place is well documented in Kings novels and short fiction and sometimes mentioned in passing in his tome of works such as – The Dead Zone, Cujo, The Dark Half, Needful Things, Gwendy’s Button Box, Bag of Bones, Different SeasonsThe Body‘ & ‘Shawshank Redemption‘, Skeleton CrewMrs. Todd’s Shortcut‘ & ‘Uncle Otto’s Truck‘, Four Past MidnightThe Sun Dog‘, Nightmares and DreamscapesIt Grows on You‘, The Bazaar of Bad DreamsPremium Harmony‘ & ‘Drunken Fireworks‘ and there are also mentions of Cujo in Pet Sematary – there are probably a lot more that I’ve missed but there are the bones of it.

With Elevation we are treated to another fabulous story held within the city limits of the town that will never appear on location, location, location. Castle Rock is a small town where weird things happen and word gets around quickly. The townsfolk share the small town mentality that oddities and peculiarities should be shared, exposed and dealt with as quickly as possible – enabling the town to come together and gossip freely over coffee, their dinners or trips to quaint curiosity shop – empowering the town to unite and shun all that is different. Just ask the locals Deidre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson they dont exactly fit the towns dynamic and social beliefs, hounded and belittled at every opportunity – that’s why Scott Carey is keeping what is happening to him a secret…his big secret is that he is getting lighter. Not such a big deal I hear you say, it is when you are keeping the same body mass but getting lighter by each passing day…

The tone of the book is a delight, much more slower paced than a lot of King’s work and this slower pace enables the reader to really and truly get to know the characters and explore the delights (if you can call them that) of Castle Rock – you get a real sense of the town and the townsfolk. Elevation is a wonderful meandering tale in which King has been able to weave in signs of the times, whether these are social and political issues or standpoints – it’s these layers that make Elevation such a great and timely read.

The book is short (novella in length) but there is still time for King to weave in other small tips of his hat to other works or characters – there is also a nice little Easter Egg for all you fans of horror – Scott Carey our main protagonist, is aptly named I assume after the character in Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man a nice little touch that King deftly weaves into the story.

In my opinion Elevation rises above what we typically expect from King and shows a masterful storyteller at his very best – an uplifting tale in a time when we need it most.

Elevation is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available here.

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Stephen King

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Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King’s books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank RedemptionGerald’s Game and It.

King was the recipient of America’s prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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