"Man, I love this story! The whole thing just races and feels so right-sized and so scarily and sadly relevant. Loved the characters... and the sense of one little girl's connection to the whole world through this weird device. It all just sang."
"This absorbing novella by horror giants King (End of Watch
) and Chizmar (A Long December
) revisits one of King's most popular locales. It's 1974 when 12-year-old Gwendy Peterson is offered a magic box by a man named Richard Farris, whom she meets at the top of one of the cliffside Suicide Stairs in Castle Rock, Maine. Farris wears a "small neat black hat" and seems to know just who Gwendy is and what she wants. Eight buttons grace the mahogany box he offers to Gwendy, and a lever dispenses silver dollars and intricate chocolates that Farris claims will help Gwendy lose weight and escape being called "Goodyear" by her classmates. Lose weight she does, but that's not all. Wonderful things keep happening in Gwendy's life, and she's happier than she's ever been. But when she decides to press one of the buttons, the consequences are horrendous. The novella follows Gwendy through high school and beyond, capturing the golden-hued joy of childhood and the wonder of friendship and first love, all under the shadow of temptation. This bite-size gem of a story packs quite a punch, and the only complaint readers will likely have is that it isn't longer."
Castle Rock, Maine, is known for the strange things that always seem to happen there. It has been a while since King let his imagination wander back to this beloved location, but with the help of award-winning author Chizmar, Castle Rock reveals one of its best secrets yet. Readers meet Gwendy in the summer of 1974, as she climbs the 305 Suicide Steps to the top of Castle View to find a man in a dark suit and hat waiting for her on a bench. He has something to give her, something beautiful but sinister: the button box. It dispenses valuable coins and amazing chocolate treats, but it can also be used to cause worldwide devastation—and Gwendy is charged with keeping the box safe for the foreseeable future. This coming-of-age novella is told in a tone that is both sweet and ominous. As she grows from a plump 12-year-old to a college graduate, Gwendy's time as the steward of the box is filled with its share of utter happiness and crushing sorrow. Where the story shines is in the universal questions it asks: how much of any of our lives is our own doing versus a result of intervention from an unseen force? And how much power do any of us have to save the world—or destroy it? Readers will eagerly devour this thought-provoking, satisfying tale, even as it leaves them unsettled."
—Booklist (starred review)