The Book Corner…2/14/19 Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. 2017 Cemetery Dance Publications.
blurb: Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine
Stephen King teams up with long-time friend and award-winning author Richard Chizmar for the first time in this original, chilling novella that revisits the mysterious town of Castle Rock.
There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974, twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong—if time-rusted—iron bolts and zig-zag up the precarious cliffside.
Then one day when Gwendy gets to the top of Castle View, after catching her breath and hearing the shouts of kids on the playground below, a stranger calls to her. There on a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small, neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…
The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told—until now.
My Review: Gwendy Peterson fears being overweight so she runs the suicide stairs at twelve years, inspired the cruelty of one of the boys in town. One day, there is a strange man with a black hat sitting on a bench at the top. He knows her name and why she runs and offers her a button box with levers that bring chocolate treats out—treats that will keep her hunger in check. She is curious about the other buttons and he warns her that bad things could happen if she touches them. She gets a silver dollar for her troubles. Off, the man goes, leaving Gwendy in charge of the box. First, she hides it in a tree stump in the backyard of her house, then the basement behind loose stone, and lastly, her closet.
As she gets older, she gets more popular, her parents close to being acoholics, sober up and fight less, she gets good grades and then wins awards for different events. All the while taking her chocolate, collecting her silver coin. When she and a friend get into a fight, she makes a wish and then her friend commits suicide but is it really to do with Gwendy or is there something more at work? She has to learn the secrets behind the box, and the cost of having it in her possession.
This is not quite a horror story. At least, not as I think of it. I think of it more as a morality lesson. Should she push the red or black button? What will it cost her? Can she go back? I found the story appealing and a bit more along the lines of Stand By Me.
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