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Bag of Bones

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Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write, and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway. There, he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter, Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here — and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

736 pages, Paperback

First published September 22, 1998

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About the author

Stephen King

2,530 books828k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,543 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,856 followers
August 9, 2020
A classic paranormal ghost story, showing how the creepiness of including kids in such settings can be lead to the marvelous extreme.

It reminded me of Lisey´s Story, both proof of what not just great author, but loving husband King is. As he can´t get tired to repeat the importance of the support and help by his wife, that he writes to impress her, that we maybe won´t have seen all these unbelievable novels without the woman inspiring the master to give the best he can and of course the infamous Carrie in the trashbin tale. It´s better than Lisey´s story too, because it has more dynamic action, unexpected plot twists, and is one of King´s more underappreciated works, possibly because it´s less action and meta, but more about the exploration of the protagonist´s development, thoughts, and feelings, his mental state taking the place of the main protagonist, antagonist, and premise.

These novels are completely different than the impersonal, just horror or fantasy works, King seems to use another approach towards creating these pieces than his usual mantra of letting the characters tell the story. His subconsciousness must do something to reduce the thrill and real, physical violence, to come closer to the Love(pun intended)craftian, subtle, psycho terror horror that is much more frightening than the expected, known types of horror one is used too. It´s far more tricky to read, for some readers definitively not as enjoyable, and therefore far less present in the horror genre that prefers to live up to Hollywood standards and stereotypes.

Dark philosophizing about what might happen after the spouse, lover, lifelong partner over decades, or even a child, dies is something nobody wants to think about, but King goes the way, gives amazing introspections that haunt millions of real, poor people and expands the horror to having to deal with bursts of extreme violence and paranormal activity. That´s especially frightening if one is not sure if it´s just a reaction to the stress and sadness, serious mental illness or, worst and most difficult to detect and handle without one´s exorcist of trust, real manifestations of whatever other dimensions, parallel universes, or quantum foam may have prepared for meat sacks.

Playing with the option of going bonkers, as King likes to do it with his different alter egos, is something possibly, quite counterintuitively, healthy for everyone, as it could show many of the blind spots and subjective errors one has accumulated over one´s life. At least better than needing real creepy nightmares to come to the realization.

Reality and what lies behind it is one of the great topics and science will show who is right, but just thinking about the possible implications is truly no good evening hobby. Hardly one of King´s novels scared me so much (I was still young and not that internally dead as nowadays) and it led my fantasy to the logical question and the rational option of why not going to visit some haunted places. I still didn´t do it, not sure if I should, it´s ridiculous because I am doing as if I am that hyper rational, but visiting or living in such places might get even too tricky for me. I mean, honestly, who buys a freaking, old, cursed spooky castle to live in? Possibly with the bedroom in the former torture chamber, no thanks.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Dale.
Author 29 books50 followers
August 31, 2007
I am a Stephen King junkie. I started reading him in high school and quickly tore through just about everything he'd ever written, and then started buying every new book he put out. Being a Stephen King fan is kind of like being a geek for Dragonlance or comic books - reviewing his work seems borderline pointless because non-fans will usually dismiss him out of hand and be hard to convince of any intrinsic value, and fans are already pretty hardcore about him.

Nevertheless, I wanted to add this specific Stephen King book to my "all time faves" shelf for three reasons:

1. It's amazing
2. Among King's books, this one is lesser known (hasn't been made into a movie or mini-series, isn't usually on people's Top 5 lists, etc.)
3. I think it's one of his more accessible and "mainstream" books.

Don't get me wrong, I love IT and The Stand and the Gunslinger septulogy, all the crazy outlandish horror and fantasy that is SK's bread and butter. But I adore Bag of Bones and think it is one of his absolute best. It's very intimate, very down to earth, with the supernatural downplayed. It's told from the first-person perspective of a widower writer with writer's block. I wouldn't want to give away much more than that. It's just a really solidly told story, where King writes about what he knows, doesn't try too hard or reach too far, and ends up with a perfectly polished gem.

This is not just a great Stephen King book, it's a great book.
Profile Image for Diane Wallace.
1,152 reviews64 followers
October 25, 2017
Haunted read! a bit long but the storyline was scary good and very intense (paperback!)
Profile Image for Jamieson.
Author 91 books64 followers
February 4, 2009
I am enjoying what I think is perhaps Stephen King’s best novel, ever.

The opinion on Stephen King’s best work differs depending on who you talk to; but for me, it will always be Bag of Bones.

It’s the one novel of Kings that I’ve read more than any other (nine times) and each time it’s just as wonderful and beautiful and engaging as it was the first time I opened up my hardcover copy ten years ago.

I think it was the beginning of King moving away from horror and toward a more literary style of writing. Hearts in Atlantis, Lisey’s Story and Duma Key (his most literary works) would come later, but Bag of Bones was the beginning of something, the capturing of time in the pages of a book.

I remember when I first read Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. I was on welfare at the time and living in a boarding house with nine other people. It was this big sprawling Victorian house that still had the servants quarters in the attic and the servants stairs to the kitchen. I remember going to the bookstore early in the morning and spending more money than I had on the book.

Even though it was fall, I sat outside on the front porch of the big old house and opened my book to the first page. I remember smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee; but I don’t remember much else except the words.

It was the words, the language that transported me.

I had thought that I was going to read a story of a writer haunted by ghosts. In a sense, that’s what the book was about. But in reality, Bag of Bones was and is about a man haunted by himself, haunted by the past.

It was the most beautiful book by King that I had ever read. I felt for and ached for Mike Noonan, newly widowed writer of thriller novels. Newly struggling with a writers block so intense that he could not write a word.

I remember thinking when I brought that book home that it was so big, that it was huge. That it would take me forever to finish it (and thus worth the fourty some dollars I had spent on it).

The book lasted me three days.

Three glorious days where I was held spellbound, enraptured, in rapture. Bag of Bones for me was more than a novel. It was a gift. While reading Bag of Bones, I realized that I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to see if I could write something as good as Bag of Boens.

I’m still trying.

That hardcover copy was lent out, only to be lent out to someone else. It was lost to me, never to be seen again. And so, when the book came out in paperback, I bought a copy. I read that copy twice a year for many years, always saving it for a dark, rainy day. It somehow seemed appropriate, reading Bag of Bones when the rain was falling down around me.

It would call to me on my shelf, begging to be read. I swear I could hear the book sigh with contentment when I took it off the shelf and held it in my hands.

Not learning my lesson the first time, I lent it out to someone who either lost it or lent it out to someone else. It was never clear what happened to the book. Suffice it to say that I felt like I had lost a part of me. After all, it was Bag of Bones that showed me what I wanted to do with my life.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve read Bag of Bones. So imagine my surprise when I saw a trade paperback edition on the shelves in the bookstore yesterday.

I had no reason being in the bookstore. I had little money but, when I saw Bag of Bones, sitting there nestled in between other paperbacks, I thought again of when I had first read the novel. I looked at the cover: 10th Anniversary Edition.

Ten years? That couldn’t be right, I thought. It can’t have been ten years. But I counted back and indeed it has been. Time flies when you’re having fun. I picked up the book and stroked the cover lightly, letting the memories flood back into my consciousness.

It was not lost on me that I found myself in much the same situation as I did ten years ago: Staring at the gorgeous white cover with little money to my name but knowing that I would leave the store a few dollars poorer but all the more richer with that book under my arm.

And what a book it is. Bag of Bones reads as fresh ten years later as it did ten years past. What I love most about the novel, I think, is its gothic nature. Mike Noonan, trying to find the power to write again by delving into his past. As a writer myself, I identify with Mike, with his struggle. With his search for peace.

There is some bonus material enclosed: we get to read an interview about why Stephen King wrote Bag of Bones and learn a bit more about what he thinks of the novel. We also get a short story, The Cat From Hell, from Kings upcoming collection of short stories Just After Sunset which will hit the shelves on November 11th.

But for me, it’s not the bonus material (though great it is) that makes the new edition of Bag of Bones so incredible. For me, then and now, it’s about the story, the language, the power of words and redemption from the ghosts of your past.

For, in the end, we are all bags of bones.

Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,596 followers
November 5, 2019
I read any kind of book and it doesn’t matter if it’s, genre, literary, or nonfiction; the only requirement is that be well written. Horror is not my favorite, in fact it is my least favorite, it’s just not for me. This book however, is a solid five stars. I also really enjoyed, The Tommy Knockers, The Stand, Full Dark No Stars, and others.
Stephen King is the truly a master story teller and his work will last through the ages because of his enormous talent to entice the reader into the fictive dream and hold him/her there. I think he accomplishes this in two ways. First, he continually endears the reader to the character (called, “patting the head of the dog”) and second; he also continually relates the reader to the setting, the time period, and the events within the scene. This second aspect is where he excels the most, and in my opinion, he’s the best of any author writing today because of it. He sparks inside the reader a nostalgic cord, something similar that has happened to the reader in the past. And while at the same time casting the reader into a nightmare, one King slowly spins up into complete chaos. It’s truly brilliant. (Note: Robert McCammon comes closest, especially with Boy’s Life and Swan Song.)
The Bag of Bones is my favorite of King’s books and I think it is because it is not so much horror as a haunting, and the love for the main character has for his deceased wife. Writing this review makes me want to go back and read it again to dissect or deconstruct exactly how King pulled it off.
The Bag of Bones was King’s first book in a contract with a new publisher and they pulled out the stops on the cover, it is a work of art.
Whether a horror aficionado or not, I highly recommend this book. Give it a try.
David Putnam the author of the Bruno Johnson series.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,630 followers
August 25, 2021
سارة تضحك..نعم ستضحك سارة علينا لصفحات طويلة..
ف"ضحكات سارة "هو اسم البيت الصيفي الذي يهرب اليه مايك..الكاتب الشهير الذي يعاني أسوأ حالة احتباس كتابة قد يتعرض لها إي مؤلف
Commercial Photography
ولكن مايك كان كالسنجاب الحريص
..فقد ادخر 4روايات للاوقات العصيبة
..ساعدته على الاستمرار بعد النكسة التي تعرض لها عقب وفاة زوجته في حادث مريب

..طالت أزمته سنوات..إلى أن بدأت سارة في الضحك ..لتبدأ فواصل من الرعب الهاديء بأنواعه
نفسي..لعنات. .رسائل 📩
مع اكتشاف تدريجي لحقائق مرعبة كانت خافية ��ن المدينة المصيفية الني صار اسيرا لها..فهل زوجته راحت ضحية للمنزل
ام ضحية المدينة و راعيها المريب؟

حقيبة من العظام نقلة نوعية في إنتاج كينج فمعها انتقل لدار نشر جديدة وأسلوب جديد.. بعيد عن العنف و الدماء و الوحوش الاسطورية و منحها رتم هاديء مطول و ممل احيانا ..مع اسلوب مليء بالمشاعر المكبوتة..لارمل عرف عن زوجته الكثير من الاسرار منذ وفاتها ..

ولكن تظل سارة تضحك ..و مع ضحكها تتضح الأمور...من كلاسيكيات البيوت المسكونة ومن افضل الروايات عن أزمة المؤلف ..و لها نسخة مسموعة
..ومن خلف الراوى تدوي ضحكات سارة🎃
Profile Image for Baba.
3,620 reviews986 followers
November 6, 2021
2016 read: Derry resident, and well known writer Michael Noonan returns to his summer home, four years after become a widower - he's suffering from writer's block, and on moving home he finds a lot more than his past, when he finds his wife's secret life, ghosts and a 100 year history of vengeance! With a slow start that focused on a thought provoking custody battle; this is still all-in-all a ghost story, so not really my cup of tea, as ghosts don't really do it for me. And for once in a Stephen King novel, many of the peripheral characters are not that well characterised!
7 out of 12.
Profile Image for Char.
1,681 reviews1,555 followers
November 21, 2015
Grief. That's the emotion that got to me the most during this reread.

The first time I read this book I had just turned thirty and even though I was already married, the horror of losing a spouse didn't get through to me like it did this time. Now, after just having celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary, the idea of losing my husband is unfathomable. Stephen King dove deep into those fathoms and dragged me along with him. I did not like what I saw or felt. That, right there, is the reason why Stephen is the KING.

I'm not going to go into the plot too much here, this is an old book and it's even had a made-for-TV-movie, so I can't say much most people don't already know. This story is a combination of ghost story, revenge, and love story. It has genuinely scary moments and other moments so poignant that I found myself with tears in my eyes.

But what is most important about this tale, about all of King's works, really, are the characters. King creates characters that are so real you feel like you can reach out and touch them. They are so real, you take in their emotions as your own. And he does it by not shying away from the ugly moments we all experience inside our own heads.

The fact that widower Mike Noonan lusts after a young woman is painful for Mike to acknowledge and we, the Constant Readers, can feel how Mike is torn between that lust and guilt, and all the tangled feelings of betrayal and loss that go along with that. Even though he's widowed, he feels these emotions and we can feel them too. In our hearts, we know what Mike is feeling is true, because that's how WE would feel.

Not only does King draw great good characters, he draws great bad ones, as well. His bad guys, not just Mr. Devore from this book, but ALL of them, have layers and a realness to them that brings them alive. They're not just men dressed in black, (Randall Flagg, I'm looking at you), they're complicated, (Trashcan Man), they have depth to them, and we (I?) LOVE to hate them. In this book, Mr. Devore is a rich, frail, elderly man in a wheelchair, yet he still comes at Mike with a menace that is horrible to witness. Our emotions are pulled every which way, how could we HATE an old man in a wheelchair? But there is no question that we DO hate him, and there again, the King has manipulated our emotions and has his Constant Readers, and all other readers, in the palms of his skilled, talented hands.

I loved this book. I love Stephen King. That doesn't mean that I've loved every book he's written, but I usually do love his characters and creations, (Wolf, Billy Bumblers), and they still live within my memory. For me, no other author has created so many memorable characters and place settings. The words Derry, Jerusalem's Lot and Pennywise- they all cause an instant picture to appear in my brain. I say let him plant a picture in your brain too: of Sarah Laughs, of the T.R. and Mr. Devoe, Mattie and Kyra. I'm pretty sure you'll thank me later.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. Just hold on tight, because your emotions are going to get knocked around a bit by the King, but hey, there's no one better qualified to do so. You'll be getting knocked around by one of the best authors living today.

I was asked way back in January, I think, to participate in the King For A Year project, and I was honored to be asked. This review is for that project, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. Here's a link in case anyone wants to check out what other authors and reviewers have to say about the King and his works: http://kingreviews2015.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Nataliya.
784 reviews12.5k followers
July 3, 2021
“Grief is like a drunken houseguest, always coming back for one more goodbye hug.”
This is a story of grief and loss and marriage and hauntings - both by ghosts and memories - told in Stephen King’s trademark sprawling narration that has dark secrets that haunt small towns, the thin lines between reality and supernatural that can so easily snap, and regular people caught in the jaws of a world that has teeth and is not afraid to bite. But more than anything this is a story of a man missing his dead wife and a writer struggling with the loss of his ability to create stories. And King is excellent at that - human emotions and human nature and the pain of loneliness.
“I cried because I suddenly realized that I had been walking a white line ever since Jo died, walking straight down the middle of the road. By some miracle, I had been carried out of harm’s way. I had no idea who had done the carrying, but that was all right—it was a question that could wait for another day.”

Bag of Bones is a story of marriage and the immense grief at losing a partner. These motifs are common in King’s books — the special intimate world of a long-term partnership, the secret language and rituals of a marriage not ever fully understandable to outsiders. The overwhelming numbing pain Mike feels, with all the anger and despair and loneliness, rings so true and is so profoundly moving. The love and understanding between partners, in this case literally transcending death, is fascinating. King writes about this with such feeling that it stops me in my tracks, makes me catch my breath and nod in recognition and terror about eventually having to go through something like that. Because King knows and *gets* people and love and the invisible strands that tie us together, and understands how fragile happiness can be shattered.
“[…] Any good marriage is secret territory, a necessary white space on society’s map. What others don’t know about it is what makes it yours.”

Yet again King exceeds all expectations creating a small New England town - this time a place that is not even a town but an unincorporated township known as the TR. A tight-knit closed-lipped insular community where stubborn pride and sincere generosity, seeming good-naturedness and almost claustrophobic distrust of strangers are all intertwined. A seemingly folksy place full of skeletons - or rather bags of bones - hidden in metaphorical closets, buried under lake waters, closely guarded. The world where “summer people” will never fully fit in. The place that can shield one of its own behind a shoulder-to-shoulder wall — but you are not going to enjoy being on the other side of that wall.
“There is such a thing as town consciousness—anyone who doubts it has never been to a New England town meeting. Where there’s a consciousness, is there not likely to be a subconscious?”

Another thing that King does very well is showing us the existential fear of writers — the desperation and frustration that comes with losing your ability to write and you are helpless to make it stop. King is at his best when he writes about his craft, and I can’t help but think that he allows us to peek behind that curtain in his brain just for the briefest moment.
“That is in some ways the strangest part of the creative process. The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.”

And beneath it all - the love, the loss, the community ties - are strands of visceral anger and revenge. This is one of those few books where you feel the pain of both sides because the true dangers don’t usually come from the world beneath our reality but from our fellow humans, and revenge and justice do not always go hand in hand. Two wrongs never make a right, and it’s painful and sad and poignant.
“I suspect that fright, like pain, is one of those things that slip our minds once they have passed. What I do remember is a feeling I’d had before when I was down here, especially when I was walking this road by myself. It was a sense that reality was thin. I think it is thin, you know, thin as lake ice after a thaw, and we fill our lives with noise and light and motion to hide that thinness from ourselves.”

Like most “later” King books, this one is almost leisurely slow, going along at a walking pace, taking breaks often enough for us to get to know the characters in vivid brush strokes — and yet it does not quite feel drawn-out or bloated. When King takes his time to explore the characters and the plot slows down to a halt, I still don’t mind because the strengths of his characterizations and observations are a pleasure to read. And his language is particularly strong here; King stated before that he emphasizes the story over the literary form, but this one slants literary nevertheless — all while keeping his ear for dialogue and his razor-sharp observations and damn good storytelling.
“I think houses live their own lives along a time-stream that’s different from the ones upon which their owners float, one that’s slower. In a house, especially an old one, the past is closer.”
“The last of these dreams was a nightmare, but until that one they had a kind of surreal simplicity. They were dreams I’d awake from wanting to turn on the bedroom light so I could reconfirm my place in reality before going back to sleep. You know how the air feels before a thunderstorm, how everything gets still and colors seem to stand out with the brilliance of things seen during a high fever?”

Honestly, don’t come to this book expecting horror in a traditional sense, there’s none of that to be found. Yes, there’s plenty of creepiness and unsettling moments — but it’s something else altogether, something more contemplative and observant and haunting and often unexpectedly brutal. It’s simply a “King”, its own genre by now. It’s not about the typical scares. The true dread comes from unexpected places — like that bizarre and almost surreal rock-throwing scene, for instance, where seemingly mundane becomes truly creepy.
“At night your thoughts have an unpleasant way of slipping their collars and running free.”

It’s not perfect by any means. There’s a bit too much relentless precociousness in the kid character, and a bit over-the-top villain, and the denouement is a tad too long. And yet those faults are minor, and what stayed with me ever since I first read it at 16 and what is still there now is the haunting gut-wrenching atmosphere and the weight of learning to survive your grief and loss. And yes, it did hit me much harder now than back when I was a teen, yet to have things to lose.

Stephen and Tabitha King
The audio version is narrated by King himself, all 22 hours of it (which is how I ended up spending a whole month with it), and it’s pretty damn special hearing the story in the author’s voice. Plus it has a 30 min interview with King in the end, and that was quite interesting.

4 stars.
Profile Image for Sarah.
368 reviews93 followers
May 14, 2023
Bag of Bones makes me so proud, I could pinch Stephen King's cheeks!

The suspense is sure of itself, teasing and slow burn. I had no idea how it would end, though momma raised me to call endings by act two. It's creepy and atmospheric and old-timey and modern, and it somehow makes me long for a return to rural Maine, despite its ghosts and buried bodies.

I’m taking one star off, though, for two reasons.

First, King is a writer who can almost always benefit from trimming 75-150 pages.

Second, there’s a horrific rape scene in this book, and it oversteps - goes from being an event in the story, necessary to explain the female antagonist’s revenge, to being exploitative. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but these are my stars, dammit, and I believe it crosses a line.

Also, I'm tempted to shave off a quarter-star more for the epilogue. If you have to explain your ending to make it work, there’s a problem. I wish that scene had been almost totally scrapped, and its contents woven into the rising action.

In the final analysis, though, I can’t bear to give this less than four stars. It’s a complex, utterly engaging story. I commend King for how well he executed, despite my grumbles.

Book/Song Pairing: Shave 'Em Dry (1935 - Lucille Bogan) *Be warned, it's dirty. But it fits so well.*
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,297 followers
September 25, 2018
"Grief is like a drunken house guest, always coming back for one more goodbye hug."

Bag of Bones focuses on the story of Mike Noonan, a best-selling writer who's wife unexpectedly passes away. Following her death, Mike suffers from writer's block and begins to have nightmares concerning their lakeside house, Sara Laughs. Mike decides he must go back to their lakeside house in order to confront his fears. Upon his arrival, he meets a beautiful single mother and her daughter, only to find out that a crazy millionaire wants to obtain custody of the young girl, who is his granddaughter. Mike decides he must help the young mother and daughter, but other sinister forces are also at work...

I truly believe that no one can depict grief like King can. Between this and Lisey's Story, King seems to have a unique talent for describing those feelings of loss and the process of grief itself. And that is part of the reason why I love King so much, it just feels like he gets you and he is able to connect with his reader so easily. Bag of Bones opens with Mike Noonan trying to cope following the unexpected death of his wife Johanna to a brain aneurysm, and these opening scenes are just heartbreaking to read. Mike's grief is so prominent and it's very easy to empathise with this character. The reality of Johanna's death really hits Mike when he realises that she will never move past page 103 in her current read (this really struck a cord with me). Shortly after her death, the nightmares surrounding their lakeside house begins...

This book did actually unsettle me at times. There's just something about creepy happenings occurring in your house. It's those kind of storylines that freak me out the most - the ones that quite literally hit close to home. It's kinda why movies like Paranormal Activity are so effective. Some of the scenes King described left me with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Serves me right for reading alone in bed late at night...

The characters themselves are pretty special. Mike Noonan is just a damn good man. He is caring, generous, thoughtful, and that somehow makes it more difficult to watch him suffering through the loss of his wife. Although Johanna is strictly not a "live" character, she is very much present in this novel, and again, she is a genuinely good person. So her death is even more tragic. Upon meeting Mattie after his arrival at the lakehouse, you find yourself willing Mike to move on, almost like you want to tell him that it's okay. Often when I encounter this kind of a scenario in a book, I am like "HOW DARE YOU! She's barely cold in her grave!" but you can feel Mike's pain and he is clearly a good man who deserves some happiness in his life.

How many times do I need to emphasise that King is literally the BEST at developing characters and their relationships. People who say King is all about horror and scares, need to read books like these in order to truly understand what King is really all about. Yes, this book could be considered "horror" in a way, but it's not your usual haunted house storyline at all. It's so much more than that. As for the "baddies" in this book - they were horrible, vile characters, particularly the character Max Devore.

The twists and turns and unfolding of events in this novel was very impressive. I was constantly wondering what was coming next, how everything was linked, and I'm very happy to say that it all paid off. One minor complaint is regarding some of the scenes towards the end that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I felt like perhaps it was maybe a bit too much...however it did really have an impact on me, and perhaps that was King's intention? So maybe it did work then?

Anyway, all in all, a great book. 5 stars out of 5 for me! I'm on a run of great King books!

Update: listened to audiobook in September 2018. Still a really great book but more boring parts than I remembered.... and that scene at the end was a tad too brutal for me. Just very uncomfortable.
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
284 reviews80 followers
October 9, 2022

"'Compared to the dullest human being actually walking about on the face of the earth and casting his shadow there,' Hardy supposedly said, 'the most brilliantly drawn character in a novel is but a bag of bones.' I understood because that was what I felt like in those interminable, dissembling days: a bag of bones."

4.5 ⭐'s

Initial Thoughts

Its been a long time since I've read a Stephen King book. I think the last one was Billy Summers when that was released. A fine book and something different, but not quite up there with his horror classics. You know what I'm talking about. The likes of Pet Semetary, Salem's Lot and The Stand.

But going so long without dipping in to King has left me thirsty. The man is perhaps the greatest storyteller in modern literature. Sometimes you do forget exactly how good he is and why he's so many people's favourite author. Well it's time for me to get reacquainted with him with a book I've never read before. Which is crazy as it's a Bram Stoker, Locus and World British Fantasy award winner for best novel. But I've heard a lot of bad reports on this one being slow and overwritten. Well time to find out for myself, which is always the best way in life.

I know Fairy Tale was released last month. But I was in the mood for horror in the build up to Halloween. No fantasy in the Edmunds household. So without further ado, let's dig out that beast of a book...Bag of Bones.

The Story

Yes this is a horror story and we kick off in Derry, Maine (home of It and Insomnia), where popular author Michael Noonan suffers the awful tragedy of loosing his wife, Jo, to a brain aneurysm. Struggling with grief and coming to terms with the loss, he is plagued by writer's block and his life appears to be stuck in limbo.

Racked by surreal and disturbing dreams he eventually submits to the notion that he must return to their summer home of 'Sara Laughs' in the backwoods of TR-90 that is right next door to everyone's favourite town of Castle Rock. Once there events only continue to get spookier and what at first appears to be the perfect place for Michael to grieve turns out to be the home of a dark secret. And he can't shake that feeling that he isn't alone. You weren't expecting things to go smoothly though we're you? this is a Stephen King book after all.

But as with all of his books there is a lot more than just horror and there is two storylines at work. Shortly after arriving Michael stumbles into the lives of Mattie Devore, a recently widowed mother, and her three year old daughter Kyra. He soon finds himself the only person in the small community that is willing to support the pair against mad billionaire grandfather, Max Devore, who is dead set on getting custody of young Kyra. It really is win at all costs for both parties and Michael finds himself firmly in the middle.

The Writing

There's a good reason why this book has won numerous awards, it's very well written. There's a few out there that believe King's writing has matured gradually over his career as he has started to shift away from horror more and more. Although I wouldn't call it literary fiction Bag of Bones could certainly be called a more literary approach when compared to his early works. If you completely removed the horror element you'd still have a compelling piece of fiction that explores a number of themes.

One of those key themes in Bag of Bones is grief and how it severely impacts us. As we know from books like Pet Semetary, King is an absolute master of “real-life horror” and writes this even better than the supernatural stuff.

I've heard a number of folk criticise this book for being slow. But it is a slow burn and one hundred percent meant to be that way. Its as much a mystery as it is a horror and King takes a subtle approach to building this one. I can definitely see why it might turn a few off, admittedly the tension did drop at points. But it certainly gives you time to ponder and think about what's going down rather than having things spelled out to you in rapid succession. It's very similar to Peter Straub's amazing Ghost Story in the way it takes its time in the first half and then really ramps it up in the last quarter.

There's a lot to enjoy here with the way King depicts a small, insular community with its own unique atmosphere and dynamics. We've seen him do it time and again. An absolute master at work.

His vivid descriptions of Maine are a treat and I loved how he incorporated the changing weather to impact on the tone of the narrative. Plus the actual scenes of horror had me gripping the pages with white knuckles, unable to put the book down. Even when my daughter is repeatedly punching me in the arm demanding her dinner. Or supper, depends how long I've been in the reading zone for. Disclaimer: no children were harmed in the production of this review.

What comes in when daylight leaves is a kind of certainty: that beneath the skin there is a secret, some mystery both black and bright. You feel this mystery in every breath, you see it in every shadow, you expect to plunge into it at every turn of a step. It is here; you slip across it on a kind of breathless curve like a skater turning for home. "

The Characters

This is one of the few books that Stephen King chose to write in first-person with the main character of Mike Noonan driving things. He certainly makes for an entertaining guide and was a pretty likeable character, despite coming across a bit snobby at times.

Again it was another author and you couldn't help but feel this was a reflection of King himself. He certainly feels very real and alive, ready to step off the page, which is a hallmark of King's characters. His reflections on the writing process were fascinating and very intimate. A highlight of the novel for sure along with the portrayal of his paralysing grief. Now and again his brooding did slow the pace of the novel down to a grinding halt however.

Despite this not being the best set of characters from the Kingmeister, they were all realistic and we'll fleshed out. Kyra was certainly my favourite and reminded me a bit of my own daughter when she was that age. Too clever for her own good! She really did give Mike's character purpose and their relationship was heartwarming.

King did such an amazing job with the location you could argue that was a character in itself. He painstakingly adds detail and backstory creating a real history and shared psychology that helps make the story such an immersive experience.

Also, there's a number of Easter eggs that the author throws for his Constant Readers that include some returning characters from previous stories. I won't say who they are but keep your eyes peeled.

Final Thoughts

Overall Bag of Bones is an excellent book. Although it's not amongst his very best, it does showcases King's strengths as an author and is certainly not amongst his worst. It would be in my consideration for his top twenty, let's put it that way.

I thought the ending in this one definitely jumped it up a few marks. The two separate storylines intersect fantastically. King gets criticised for not being able to end a novel but this one was terrific. The final revelation is truly horrific, amongst the most shocking scenes he's written, and the overall atmosphere in those final pages is awesome.

Ok, I'll admit it is a little long-winded but this is a book worth reading, and I would definitely recommend it to those who love a good slow burn ghost story.

Thanks for reading...cheers!

"Now Sara Laughs is only a dark hulk down below, and I realize I don't want to go down there, anyway. I am a man who has trained his mind to misbehave, and I can imagine too many things waiting for me inside."
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
566 reviews93 followers
November 8, 2011
Here's the thing about me and Stephen King: no matter how problematic and/or angry-making I find some of his work to be, the man knows how to tell a good story.

I had read Bag of Bones before, when it was first published, but all I really remembered about it was that I found it an enjoyable enough story, but not one that was excellent enough to be particularly memorable. And, indeed, I found myself remembering very little of the story while rereading it this time around. Which, on the one hand, the kind of thing I hope for with a reread so that it, again (and hopefully) has the power to surprise me again.

There are good things about Bag of Bones. It is a real page-turner of a ghost story, one that gathers momentum page by page to a huge and appropriately dramatic climax. This is important because the quality of King's endings does vary greatly from novel to novel. The narrative arc of Bag of Bones is a very smooth and appropriate one, where 'appropriate' references the gradual raising of the story's stakes from beginning to end. As well, this is one of King's many stories with a writer as a protagonist and few other writers I've read can express the exalted joys, the abysmal lows and strange, superstition filled territories of that state.

But there are bad things, too.

At the end of it all, Bag of Bones isn't a bad story so much as one that fails to grasp what it reaches for and that feeds into the same –isms it tries to discuss and depict. It could be better. I wish it were better. But it is just more bones than flesh.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews608 followers
November 18, 2022
Audiobook….read by Stephen King
…..21 hours and 21 minutes

Writing block was the least of Mike Noonan’s problems — for our middle-aged ‘best selling’ fiction author/protagonist.
He was suffering with grief, sadness, loneliness, and depression—he was a total walking zombie from despair over the death of his wife, Jo,
who died, four years ago.
He learned she was pregnant after her death… and couldn’t for the life of him understand why she hadn’t told him.

After those first four years of Mike’s unproductive writing, emotionally depleted, apathetic, mentally exhausted state …..
he took his grief, depression, and loneliness to his second home in Maine where he and Jo often vacationed.
Something was drawing him back to the house.
Mike hoped being back in their home — called Sarah Laughs — it would rekindle a spark of enthusiasm and imagination ….. so that plays creative juices would start flowing and he’d start writing (productively).

While back in his vacation, Lakehouse, Mike begins to have frightening dreams with ghosts on the property.
He meets a young widow named Mattie, a single mother to her toddler-daughter, Kyra.
Mike is enchanted enough to want to help Mattie financially—as she is facing some ugly legal problems with her wealthy father-in-law, who wants soul custody of Kyra.

Lots of mystery-suspense surprises-mixed with nostalgia, a sincere warmth of generosity and heart.

I enjoyed this book.
It held my interest weaving a few spooky parts with a sweet love story.
It’s not heavy horror ….(not completely absent though, either)
The heartfelt inner turmoil that Mike Noonan was dealing with throughout was very real— easy to empathize.

The setting was great — as were the locals. The good guys were good and the bad bad.

I enjoyed listening to Stephen King read his own novel. He owned it!
And he delivered it like a pro!

Profile Image for Jeff .
912 reviews708 followers
October 3, 2018
When people talk about the great Stephen King books, Bag of Bones is almost never part of the conversation. When I agreed to do a buddy read it was because of its connection to Moon and the Sixpence and the recommendation of my favorite and greatest of all Mah Fahs, Stepheny. Consequently, I didn’t go into this buddy read with the Purveyors of the Pantsless Reads with any grand expectations.

I can honestly say I was happily disappointed.

The skinny: Mike Noonan, a writer, tragically loses his wife at a young age and subsequently develops writers block. He moves into the couple’s summer house in order to shake up the craft and deal with some nagging dreams he’s been having. He finds a connection with a 20-year old widow and her 3-year old daughter. Problem is there’s a custody battle brewing for the child involving the kid’s grandfather, who’s a crazy, stone-throwing evil old coot.

Plus, the summer house is haunted – brimming to the rafters with ghosts.

What works here are the characterizations and the palpable love story between Mike and his long dead wife, it rises off the page and grabs you on a visceral level. The story itself works well up until crunch time, then King gets overwhelmed by some semi-important plot devices that lose focus and get muddled as the pages turn. King once again provides a classic example of the difficulty he has in dealing with a protagonist.

Still, this is 6/7th of a good read and recommended for anyone who digs ghost stories or adorable precocious psychic toddlers or love stories that involve ghosts and adorable precocious psychic toddlers.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
April 26, 2016
Some ghosts can be deadly............and as KING fans already know, evil always seems to be present in and around Derry.

BAG OF BONES is the story of novelist Michael Noonan and the effects of his profound grief after the sudden loss of his beloved wife. Even after four years, a paralyzing writer's block takes over his days and creepy repetitive dreams fill his nights that ultimately lead him back to his log cabin hideout, Sara Laughs, in the woods of western Maine.

Not long after his arrival, a combination of two pretty new friends and haunting voices of devilry feed Mike's imagination that unwind a nightmarish and dangerous mystery to solve with powerful adversaries from not only this world, but the world beyond.

Great ghostly story of horror and romance that is a bit slow getting started, but packs more than one devastating punch!

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
January 5, 2018
“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” 

A very good ghost story.

Stephen King’s 1999 novel about a lonely hamlet in western Maine is told with King’s rare gift for telling these kinds of stories. More than just a ghost story, the author fills his pastoral, suspenseful tale with generations of bad times coming down into a point on a lake, and a town that has some bad history and some secrets.

“I think reality is thin, you know, thin as lake ice after a thaw, and we fill our lives with noise and light and motion to hide that thinness from ourselves.”

King’s protagonist is a writer of romantic suspense novels with more than just a passing success. As King tells it, he is on the best seller lists that go to 15. Enough success that he and his wife have a summer house on a lake near the New Hampshire border. When a tragedy tears his life apart, Mike Noonan travels to the isolated cabin to try and get his head on straight.

And, of course, that’s where King’s expertise takes over. Drawing inspiration from earlier novels The Shining and Pet Sematary, King draws Noonan into a web of old mysteries tied to present day conflict.

Well-crafted and told by a master, this was a page turning and entertaining book. Recommended.

Profile Image for Mohammad Ali Abedi.
433 reviews34 followers
January 21, 2016
Reading this book is the first novel you have the absolute proof where you can confidently say, “Stephen King is now a typical middle aged author”. Because he uses the plot device they all use.

Love between older man and young woman. And every aspect of it is such a silly middle aged fantasy that is almost pathetic to read. The character in the book is a stand-in for King at that moment in his life. He is above 40, rich for writing popular novels, which so far is nothing new for King’s characters, but here he also has a wife which seems to be like his real life wife, but in this book, she dies. Not divorced, the character doesn’t have an affair, just his perfect wife from his perfect marriage dying, so that King through his character can comfortably engage in his fantasy without feelings of guilt or complicating it.

And the object of attraction isn’t just a younger woman, it’s a very young woman who if I remember correctly was 20 or 21, but when the book introduces her she apparently looks even younger, as young as a teenager, but middle aged man can’t comfortably fantasize about fucking 16 years old, but it is perfectly harmless for them to want to fuck a 20 year old who looks 16.

Notice how nicely the fantasy is being laid. Married man doesn’t have be guilty about his feelings, because he loved his wife and she is now dead and probably would want him to continue living life. The girl is young, looks young, but isn’t illegally young. And from here, the rest should be obvious . The girl is in trouble and has a small child, so the man isn’t just going after a horny college student, no, the man is helping a poor single mom, whose husband has also died young (and who we learn is the only person the girl has had sex with, so as virgin as they come without being a virgin). And most of all, the man is an absolute gentleman when it comes to the girl. He keeps his distance, respects her, helps her, is absolutely wonderful with her little girl, and the young woman has to BEG him to fuck her.

I’ve not talked much about the actual story, because it’s not really important. All we need to know is that this is a purely King fantasy, and I almost felt awkward reading it, because I felt like it should have remained in King’s head when he lies at night and looks at his wife snoring and starts to wonder…
Profile Image for Kerri.
989 reviews368 followers
November 29, 2020
Whenever I'm not sure what I feel like reading next, I go for a Stephen King book. I seem to like all of his books, including the ones others hate intensely or find boring! I've had a copy of this one for a while - I was quite thrilled to find a hardcover edition in a charity shop some months ago. I'm not sure how much it was, I got a stack of books for $3, and this was the one I was most excited about.

Stephen King excels at writing about grief, and this was no exception. Mike Noonan's wife dies suddenly. He's a grief-stricken, middle-aged writer who can no longer write. The writers block that is more than writers block. And then there's his lakeside retreat, Sara Laughs -- he's dreaming about it, finds himself drawn back there, and is soon caught up in the lives of young widow Mattie Devore and her three-year-old daughter Kyra. This references the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier frequently, a book I haven't read yet, but intend to soon. I'm sure once I have read it there will be many nods to that story that I will appreciate.
Even without being familiar with it, I loved this book. Mike Noonan is a character that you can't help but feel compassion for. He's grieving for his wife, grieving for his inability to write and tries his best to help Mattie out when he realises she is facing an unfair custody battle that she is likely to lose as she has no financial resources to fight with. Her father-in-law basically intends to buy her child, one way or another, and Mike is unwilling to sit by and let it happen.

I think this is a ghost story, and it's a chilling one at times, but perhaps the scariest part is the all too real horror of unkind people who can often do what they want because they have a lot of money. Mike has less money, but enough that maybe he can help. He quickly became a favourite Stephen King character for me - I could have happily read hundreds of additional pages about him!

I liked the ending.
28 reviews
October 28, 2007
Slow moving. I quit halfway through, switched to an action novel which cleared my head and allowed me to continue the laborious trudge.

The best thing about this novel, aside from reaching the end (660 pages… it could have been pared back to 450 and I would have been happy), was its intricacy. Almost everything tied in to the end. Of course, for a novelist like Stephen King, I would expect nothing less. However, I found the protag’s involvement left me feeling uneasy. Could Mike have figured everything out sooner and prevented much of the bloodshed? I found Mike to be too blasé about some of the things that happened to him, around him. Yes, they all turned out to have significance, but for a long while he ignored things that he really should have worked much harder to understand. Clues that he tried to find answers to, but then gave up.

In fact, he accepts (with little regret) that the answers were so close at hand but he was distracted from searching for them. Admittedly, the distractions were significant, but there were still large gaps where Mike could have picked up the puzzle pieces and figured things out. Another factor that detracted from my enjoyment was the (almost) apology that SK makes (through Mike) in the epilogue. I won’t ruin it for anyone who wishes to read, but Mike (who was a novelist) mused on the convenience of another character’s death. It neatened things up, removed him from a moral dilemma, and it did feel staged, as though SK couldn’t bring himself to allow this scenario to continue. It is said that a story tells something of the author, I wonder if this tells something of SK?

I’m glad I finished the book, even if just so I can say that I have. Overall, it was too slow, the characters unique, but lacking emotional depth. This will be my last Stephen King novel for a while.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,326 reviews2,146 followers
March 14, 2016
736 pages, so not King's longest book but still a doorstop. I enjoyed it very much anyway and it was certainly a page turner. This is one of his ghostly, horror type stories and at times it was very spooky and frequently very gory. In fact very Stephen King. Not the best book I have read by him but still very worthy of 4 stars.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
April 24, 2016
I remember reading this when I was 16. My dad bought me the hardcover for my birthday, and I remember reading it on a plane. That's about all that I remember about it, though, other than a vague recollection of liking it, hence my pre-Goodreads rating of 3 stars.

Now, 16 years later (Please don't do the math. It will hurt me in my soul.), and I'm reading it again. I've picked this book up a few times over the past... maybe two years, but each time I put it back down again. It just wasn't the right time. But I'm glad that I read this now, because I loved it. I didn't love EVERYTHING about it, but the main, overall story, is pretty effing fantastic.

The quick and dirty summary, before we get started: Successful author Mike Noonan's wife, Jo, dies suddenly, and after Mike's suffered 4 years of lonely writer's block, he finds himself drawn to his summer home on Dark Score Lake, where things start to get weird.

Alrighty, let's get the nitpicks out of the way, shall we?

First: I get it. Mike Noonan is a successful author of romantic mystery/thrillers. That's quite clear enough from Noonan's own perspective, and from the conversations he has with his agent. So it's pretty annoying to have nearly every male character that encounters Mike to have to comment on Mike's Successful Author Status, usually in the form of The Husband Of The Fan relaying his hallowed Favorite Author Status on behalf of said wife. And often in a sort of apologetic way, as though she should really be more discerning, but he writes the stuff, and they ARE women, so it's probably OK.

In 732 pages, ONE man is reported to have read one of Mike's books, and that man is his agent. Even his publishers are women, Debra and Phyllis.

I don't really know why this bothered me quite so much. I understand that a romantic aspect being a main component of a book will make that one that appeals to more women than men. But it just seemed to be overkill. Everyone has to mention how much women love his books, even when said woman is not around. The subtext being, I guess, that these are good husbands who would catch hell if their wives poked a head out of the kitchen to ask how their days were and found out that hubby'd talked to THEIR FAVORITE AUTHOR and didn't mention that she was a huge fan. Possibly a rolling-pin to the noggin worthy offense.

Second: The dialogue. There was really some awkward dialogue in this book. I think that's been present in just about all of King's books, but as I get older, I notice it more. It's just little things, things that bother me and feel... forced? Like a 21 year old girl, the daughter of two alcoholics, who practically raised herself, and who quit highschool when she got pregnant, and now reshelves books at the library for $100/week and can barely afford to keep her trailer saying, "I apologize about calling in the first place - it's a presumption."

It's just awkward. Yes, she's smart. Yes, she's a reader of widely varying genres (described as "schizo" by our author/narrators). And yes, she's not the trailer-trash one would expect her to be. But STILL I don't think, in the late 90s, that a girl like her would talk like that. It sounds like it would be coming out of the mouth of a 45 year old WASP, calling on business.

And let's not forget about the "Make it Mike/Mattie/Rommie/George/etc" instructions that everyone has to give anyone else they talk to so that they can feel free to get all personal and call them by their first name. This book was set in 1998, not 1958. Jeez.

Finally: The repetition. This is something of a slow build of a book. Once it gets going, it goes, but... Mike is a bit slow on the uptake with some things, and so it has to kind of be knocked into his head, which takes repetition. Not only for him to get it, but I presume for the reader to get it and understand the importance as well. King often takes his time to make sure the scene is set and the symbolism and symmetry are in place before letting things get good and rockin'. I appreciate that, but I think Mike could have maybe picked up on a few things a bit faster. To me, they were pretty obvious... but then, I'm reading the book and he's living it.

Those are all of the negatives I can think of right now. I'm tired, though, and it's past my bedtime, so I'll get to the good stuff quickly.

I loved the way that this story unfolded. I love how all the little pieces of mystery eventually came together. The picture that they formed was horrible, and ugly, and hateful, and sad... but what it spawned is almost righteously beautiful in its anger and hurt. That seems like such a strange sentence to type, but I don't know how else to describe it. The things that happened should not have and I cannot help but understand the rage and the pain and the sense of betrayal... and the need for vengeance. In a way, I was rooting for her to win. I just couldn't bring myself to call her evil... not after what she'd been put through. My heart broke for her.

One thing that King does exceptionally well is build a community, and in Bag of Bones, I think this is one of his best. Very close-knit, very proud and quiet and... Maine. The way that this community exists is just as creepy and scary for their everydayness as the things that draws Mike to Sara Laughs and keeps him there.

The characters were great, and I loved the way that Mike kept his wife alive in his mind and heart. She died on the first page of the book, and yet she had such an active place in his life, and I loved her character.

I loved so much about this book. I enjoyed even the sections of nothing-much-happening, because even when nothing is happening at the moment, the reader is getting to know the characters or the community, or just taking a little walk down memory lane and getting a feel for the relationship that was so recently lost. This book was such an emotional roller-coaster, and I loved it. It had me in tears right off the bat, because one thing that King does amazingly well is writing characters that I can understand and relate to (even if sometimes they talk funny). And Jo's death right at the start of the book, and Mike's reaction to it, just got me in the feels. I understood his need to know why she had been keeping secrets, and I willingly went along with him to find out. I felt like, by the end, I'd been a silent observer of their lives.

I loved this book, and despite my criticisms, I think it's right up there among King's best. There are a lot of similarities in this book to 2006's Lisey's Story, only told from the other side of the page, if you will. In this, the writer's wife is the one to die, and in Lisey's Story, the writer himself dies. But both stories pick up from there with the coping and grieving, and the quest to understand WHY their loved one died... and what secrets they may have been keeping.

There are also several tie-ins to other novels that King's written - Insomnia, for one, and Needful Things. It's kind of a bridge between the Derry novels and the Castle Rock novels. It's not really set in either one, truly, though it passes through both.

Anyway, it's now after 1:30am and if I don't stop typing, I might just ramble on until dawn. So I'll stop now and just say that I loved this book despite it's occasional awkwardness. It's heartbreaking and beautiful and ruthless and eerie all at the same time. Good stuff. Definitely worth the read.
Profile Image for Tim.
2,184 reviews212 followers
March 31, 2023
Some Stephen king novels are good, but this is not. It is too long and boring to hold this reviewer’s interest. 0 of 10 stars
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,359 followers
July 8, 2015
Y acaso la mayor bendición fue que nunca supimos que nos quedaba poco tiempo...

Muy buen libro de King. Tiene uno de los mejores comienzos que me tocó leer. El autor me transmitió la tristeza, la tragedia y la depresión del protagonista intensamente. Un excelente inicio de novela.

El dolor del duelo es como un invitado borracho, cuando parece que se ha marchado vuelve a darte un último abrazo.

Ya en la mitad las cosas se empiezan a poner un poco pesadas y repetitivas. Tiene partes que son bastante lentas. Sin embargo, el misterio que le dotó a esta historia King me hizo imposible despegarme de las páginas en ningún momento. Sufría horrores cada vez que tenía que soltar el libro para dormir o comer o estudiar, o lo que sea. Putas interrupciones obligatorias...

Es mejor no dejar las cartas de amor por ahí; pueden volver para torturarte... pero no me torturaré yo mismo voluntariamente, y cuando cerré mi libro de sueños lo hice por voluntad propia.

En el final todo se vuelve más enérgico. El terror aparece para golpearnos con fuerza y el momento álgido se logra a la perfección. Tiene una conclusión soberbia. En mi opinión es uno de los finales más espeluznantes de King.

En definición, un muy buen libro de uno de mis autores favoritos. Lo recomiendo sin dudarlo. Tiene mucho misterio, mucho. Éso me encantó.
Profile Image for Wordsmith J.
50 reviews9 followers
June 20, 2007
Easily my favorite Stephen King novel ever, and I've read a wide cross section of different eras of his stuff. This is a ghost story...it's about being haunted, both by spirits and by memories. It's a book about loss and grief, but also a suspenseful mystery with a super spooky atmosphere, set in a creepy, unincorporated and sparesely populated fading resort community with a dark historic past. The mystery and the hauntings are linked in with a child custody battle, complete with a nefarious old villain, and a damsel in distress. At the center of it all is Mike Noonan, a troubled best-selling writer (naturally), who is greiving the sudden loss of his deeply beloved, spunky number one fan, his wife, and, he has reason to believe, their unborn child.
Profile Image for Carmine.
593 reviews59 followers
November 18, 2021
La morte come colpa e redenzione

"E forse la nostra benedizione più grande era di non aver mai saputo quanto fosse breve il tempo."

"E ancora dice a se stesso che sta cercando di salvarla, solo di salvarla, esattamente come per tutta la vita Hilda ripeterà a se stessa che la bambina era tornata in casa a cercare un giocattolo, che non era stata dimenticata da lei, abbandonata nel vestitino bianco e nelle calze rosse perché suo padre la trovasse e commettesse un atto spaventoso. Questo è il passato, questo è il Regno di Ciò che Fu, e qui i peccati dei padri ricadono sui figli, anche fino alla settima generazione, che ancora non è."

Meravigliosa discesa nei dolori del quotidiano, ove l'orrore si nasconde negli anfratti meno nascosti e la fragilità dei rapporti umani rappresenta solo una delle tante sfaccettature di una realtà amara da fare propria per non soccombere.
L'omertà in cui serpeggia il male va a braccetto con la paura del giudizio; la verità si nasconde nelle leggende e la si cela, finché possibile.
Qui il male vince perché diventa necessario; e a scontarne le colpe sono sempre i figli, ignari eredi di una generazione che ha fallito su tutta la linea in virtù del "bene comune".

Libro piuttosto divisivo, questo di King: dai classici strilloni "CAPOLAVORO!" si passa al tacciare l'opera dell'invereconda colpa di esistere. Penso, al netto di qualunque proclamo, più o meno lecito, che questo sia un buon romanzo. Ben scritto nel gigantesco preambolo che anticipa TR-90 (la descrizione del lutto gode di sfumature tutt'altro che scolastiche), la storia illustra un proseguo capace di instillare un fisiologico senso di disagio, attraverso l'utilizzo dei più classici degli espedienti contenuti nella narrativa dell'orrore. Qualche terribile incespicata - il passaggio turbotrash della sassaiola; l'orripilante scimmiottamento di Psyco con il parruccone - non pregiudica quella che ritengo essere una delle migliori opere del King "maturo".
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,808 reviews797 followers
July 4, 2019
This is most definitely one of my top ten King books. There is truly no other author that can tug at your heart strings and depict grief and loss in such a beautiful way like King can. He has an insane talent for making you feel the deep sense of loss that the characters feel and it always packs such a punch. This is such a beautiful and haunting story and it really has everything you could ask for and more! It’s unsettling and creepy yet heartbreakingly beautiful, what King does best!
Profile Image for Constantine.
861 reviews167 followers
February 4, 2023
Rating: ⭐⭐ ½
Genre: Horror + Mystery

Bag of Bones is a horror paranormal story that centers around Mike Noonan, a successful novelist who, four years after the sudden death of his wife Jo, is still grieving and unable to write. Mike decides to leave his home in Boston and go back to Sara Laughs, Maine, where he and his late wife Jo spent their honeymoon. All this after he had a strange dream about her.

Once there, he meets Mattie, a young widow with a daughter named Kyra who is four years old. Mattie is struggling with her much more powerful father-in-law, who wants to take custody of Kyra. Mike and Mattie quickly become friends, and shortly after that, Mike learns that his wife's ghost is still present in the lake house, along with an enigmatic force that poses a danger to the community's safety.

Mike, Mattie, and Kyra soon find themselves in the middle of a paranormal conflict between good and evil, and in order to save the town and its residents, Mike must deal with his own guilt and grief over his wife's passing.

Simply put, this book was just too long for its own good. I think that King was dealing with a decent narrative, but sadly, this is one of those that I did not enjoy reading. It got off to an excellent start, but then the narrative started wandering constantly off-topic. The writing was jumbled, and it took much too long to get to the portions that were enjoyable. When I finally got to the intriguing portions, I was so worn out that I didn't care nearly as much about the characters or the story. I am aware that this story has been adapted into a miniseries, and it is something that I hope I would enjoy watching. There are many readers who consider Insomnia to be Stephen King's most disappointing work. That one appealed to me more than "Bag of Bones" did.
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