Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gwendy's Button Box (The Button Box, #1)” as Want to Read:
Gwendy's Button Box (The Button Box, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gwendy's Button Box

(The Button Box #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  58,358 ratings  ·  6,561 reviews
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.

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,
Hardcover, 171 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Cemetery Dance Publications
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gwendy's Button Box, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ryan You pick up on things if you've read other Stephen King work. Mr. Farris' initials give you a giant hint as to his true identity. ;) But the story in …moreYou pick up on things if you've read other Stephen King work. Mr. Farris' initials give you a giant hint as to his true identity. ;) But the story in and of itself is a stand-alone. I LOVED this. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  58,358 ratings  ·  6,561 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Gwendy's Button Box (The Button Box, #1)
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I listened to the audio version of this book through the library Overdrive but I'm going to buy a copy from Audible. Maggie Swift from Sons Of Anarchy was the narrator and she was awesome!

I loved that there was a little talk with Stephen King and Richard Chizmar at the end. Just listening to them was cool.

There is also a short story at the end of the first book called, "The Music Room." This is a tiny short story by Stephen King. Just a little tad bit of horror to add to your day.

I also have
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
”She approaches the button box with as much stealth as she can muster. When she’s within a few feet of it, the image of a wild animal asleep in its lair flashes in her head, and she thinks: The button box doesn’t just give power; it is power.

‘But I won’t,’ she mutters. Won’t what? ‘Won’t give in.’”

It all begins with daily summer exercise on the cliffside stairs. Gwendy Peterson is 12 years old in 1974 and chubby. She will be going to middle school in the fall, and she does not want her nicknam
Federico DN
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
A little box, a few buttons, and unspeakable consequences for pressing them.

Gwendy is a twelve year old girl, wide, school outcast. At the peak of some stairs in an elevated park of Castle Rock, a black suited stranger offers her a peculiar object. A little button box, with two tiny levers. A magic box that every now and then grants little gifts, but at a terrible cost. Pressing the different buttons carries dire consequences, and protecting the box, a grave responsibility. What if someone steal
Lala BooksandLala
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm here for it.
Thanks to Raeleen for the recommendation via this episode of Books Unbound Podcast https://open.spotify.com/episode/3yVU...

Book 14 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge.

Oct 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
How many authors does it take to write a 171-page novella? Two apparently, if it’s Gwendy’s Button Box.

In a conversation between co-writers Stephen King and Richard Chizmar at the end of the audiobook, King explains that he wrote the beginning of the story but couldn’t end it. WHY he couldn’t end it he never shares, but he says he dusted off the languishing manuscript and turned it over to his buddy Chizmar to wrap it up. The resulting story feels seamless, which isn’t a surprise since Chizmar’
Hannah Greendale
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, adult, fiction
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Gwendy Peterson lives in Castle Rock, Maine. Every morning, she jogs up the suicide stairs. One day, she reaches the top of the stairs and meets a strange man dressed in black. He offers Gwendy a gift, something he says is hers. The man in black produces a canvas bag and reveals a button box. Gwendy is drawn to the button box and gleefully accepts it, unaware of the power it holds.

On a bench in the shade, c
4+ Stars

Fooled me.......not at all the ending I was expecting....And guess what....we're back in Castle Rock, Maine....as is The Man in Black.

Anyway....Richard Farris (RF) sits watching and waiting for 12 year old Gwendy Peterson to finish her run up and down the suicide stairs. She absolutely does not want to be called Goodyear...like the blimp... when school resumes this year....so when the mysterious man offers up his button box of powerful...dangerous...and life changing ...tricks and treats

Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
King is back! . . . and he brought a friend . . .

A very nice novella indeed! A story of choices and mystery. Questions about what a person might do with almost God-like power. Would you choose to be merciful or would you let your inner demons make you the ultimate destroyer?

Whatever you decide, if you like a good thriller (and, perhaps in this case, don't have a lot of time to dedicate to a big book), I suggest you choose Gwendy's Button Box for a good dose of "what-ifs".

Side note: the version I
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This was a re-read in order to remind myself of the story’s basic tenets before I tackle the newly released second piece in the series, penned solely by Richard Chizmar. Please see my original review below:

A wonderful collaboration between 'King of Horror' Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, who have been long-time friends but meshed their literary ideas into a single piece. This story is peppered with the New England flavour for which King is so well known and an innocent story that turns on a si
Many years ago it was with a sad heart I first read 'the last Castle Rock story' Needful Things and said goodbye to a town that stood alongside the likes of Narnia, Hobbiton and Gallifrey in my youth. King alongside Chizmar dare to bring it back, and to me it is a perfect love letter to Castle Rock fans! It almost feels like it was written in the Castle Rock hey days of the 70s an 80s, maybe intentionally so. The man in the black hat and his name, gave me such a cosy warm feeling.

The book only t
Kevin Kuhn
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
This was a lightning fast read for me. First, it’s only 171 pages, probably less than 50,000 words, so it’s sort of on that borderline between novella and novel. Second, it’s an easy read, short chapters, nothing complicated or difficult about it. Third, it’s another one of those King-scenarios where I had to know what happens.

I believe I read that King wrote part of this story and then shelved it, unable to finish it. Later Richard Chizmar and King collaborated back and forth for a month to fin
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Engaging reading!


Gwendy Peterson is a normal teenager in the (not-so normal) Castle Rock town, she is looking to lose some weight (mainly due the meanness of fellow schoolmates), and to do that she has been running on the “Suicide Stairs”, one of the colorful places in the town, until one day, when she reached the high point of the stairs, she meets a strange man with a black hat which knows too much about Gwendy’s personal life and he gives her a gift, a powerful and
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
When Gwendy Peterson meets a mysterious man in black on top of Suicide Stairs, he gives her the button box. One lever gives her a candy, one lever gives her a silver dollar, and the buttons give only death...

I've been a Constant Reader for a long time. This showed up on my BookGorilla email one morning and I gave it a shot. The writing was vintage King. It felt like putting on a favorite T-shirt.

Castle Rock and a character with the initials RF are back! A middle schooler winds up with a device
megs_bookrack ((is on vacation))
I read this novella in one day.

It felt like going into a dive bar in a strange town, sitting down and having an old geezer sitting at the bar say, "let me tell you a story..."

It was that damn good.
Jon Nakapalau
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, favorites
This story reminded me of the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" with Billy Mumy as Anthony Fremont. But in this case Gwendy Peterson is a good person who tries to distance herself from a power that can consume her. The ability to control desire while welding absolute power is a sad story that has been told time and time again and written in blood. This novella is well written and (for the first time I can remember) gives us the perspective of a young girl as she grows up with a box that s ...more
Gwendy's Button Box was a fun story, but I'm glad I only spent 9$ on the eBook and not $30 for the hardcover copy. First, it's short - novella short. Second, the overall story wasn't developed well enough to justify asking someone for $30 in exchange for it.

The first half of the story is good. It's quick paced with its snappy little chapters. Gwendy herself is fine as a character, and the premise of the story is kind of interesting. But it ultimately falls flat. And frankly, I have no idea what
Dec 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Yesterday, I listened to “The Chocolate Box”-a Hercule Poirot novella.

My follow-up turned out to be about another box which dispenses chocolates-Gwendy’s Button Box (#1 in what has now become a trilogy) which is a story started by Stephen King and finished by his friend, author Richard Chizmar. My Audible even had an interview with both, when the story concluded.

Everyone knows Stephen King.

But, I became acquainted with Richard Chizmar, when I read one of his short stories, “The Porch” and fol
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, 2017
I absolutely love Stephen King and "Gwendy's Button Box" was okay. I think I was expecting a bit more at the end since the plot was so interesting to start with.
So with that said, I'm going with 3 stars on this one.
The book wasn't bad but it didn't blow me away either.

Recommended for Stephen King fans.
Recommended for someone looking for a quick novella on morality or questions on being given infinite power and how you would handle this "gift".
Is it really a gift though?
Read this book to find out
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

If you had the power to destroy worlds, what would you do?

This brand new novella written by King and Richard Chizmar asks this very question to a twelve-year-old girl. Gwendy is a smart and nice kid living in Maine with her parents. On one fine day, she meets a peculiar man: A man in black who presents her a box of ultimate power for safe keeping.

An odd stranger giving a mysterious box to a 12-year-old girl. I mean, if that's not setting off alarms in your head, what would?!

It's a
Sadie Hartmann
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I know short stories aren't for every reader, even for Constant Readers, but I for one-LOVE THEM! Especially when wickedly talented writers like Stephen King and Richard Chizmar have their hand in it. I saw this book sitting on my nightstand about an hour ago and I thought, "What the actual fuck am I waiting for?!"
So I picked it up and I read it.
And damn it was good. It was very, very good. See, people complain that short stories skimp on character development--as if one needs hundreds and hundr
Alondra Miller
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pre-Read: YES!! The man in black.... oh, shit!

Read: Such a lovely Novella.... muhahaha

Post-Read: Excellent novella about being responsible for what essentially could be a "Pandora's Box." What would you do with the Red Button???
Ashley Daviau
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm always a little iffy on collaborations, but this was so damn good and I loved every second of it! The writing flowed so well and was really seamless, you couldn't tell where King ended and Chizmar ended. Not only was the writing seamless but I absolutely loved the concept of the story itself! I was captivated from the very first word and blew through the whole story in one sitting. Once I started reading I just couldn't stop, I absolutely needed to know what happened next. I also really love ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, novella
Like the good ones often do, Gwendy's Button Box succeeds by planting questions in your mind. First the little questions, which of course lead to those bigger, more important kind. The stuff of life – and the stuff of...hmm. Well, many came to my mind that were the same Gwendy asked along the way. Why was this given to me? Could a simple wood box have such power suggested? And what could it possibly do if I pushed this little button? What...would...it...do? The scary in this story is not in the ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
What a fantastic book! It's stories like this that really showcase Stephen King's complexity and depth both as a writer and as a person. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; my only gripe is that I wish the book could be longer. But c'est la vie.

Off to find the next gem!
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great story!!! Great novella!!!

I think I am becoming a Stephen King fan.
Johann (jobis89)
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVED IT! I'm a fan. I'll do a proper review when more of my pals have read it! ...more
Maliha Tabassum Tisha
1974. Castle Rock, Maine. Twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson runs up the "suicide stairs" every afternoon, in an attempt to get fit and toss out that stupid nickname before middle school starts. On top of the stairs one day, Richard Farris, a mysterious yet affable man wearing a black hat, hands over the eponymous Button Box to her. It's a mahogany antiquity having eight convex buttons with different colors, and two levers on two of its sides. Gwendy is destined to have and defend it. But the Butto ...more
Beware the jaunty black derby hat.

The curve of the short brim. The bent knuckles touching hand to hat in greeting.

"Set a spell, as they say down south."

And twelve year old Gwendy obliges as she cautiously positions herself on the edge of the bench. She speaks of the warnings of engaging with strangers. But all that goes to the wayside as this intriguing man dressed in black talks to her in a low voice. He seems to know how to draw out those hidden secret tendrils of truth from within her that n
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library, 2020, 2017
I’m getting ready to read Gwendy’s Magic Feather, so I decided to go back and re-read this book to refresh my memory about the finer points of the story.

With the illustrations and blank pages, this book is probably closer to 100 pages, so it's a very quick read. But it's a classic late-period King short story. It’s less about shock value and more about character, and Gwendy is a really believable, interesting character. An exploration of the weight of power and responsibility, the story is remi
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
What do you keep in your closet?

A bench, a stranger dressed in black, and a very special box. It's a button box, but the buttons are on the outside. It has just become Gwendy's responsibility. Watch out for a black bowler hat that has an air of menace about it. Careful . . . you're being watched.

Promising start, tepid finish. For readers who shy away from the sterner stuff, this could very well be a perfect pick.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chasing the Boogeyman
  • La pluma mágica de Gwendy (Trilogía La caja de botones de Gwendy 2)
  • The Girl on the Porch
  • Gwendy's Final Task
  • Blaze
  • 20th Century Ghosts
  • The Regulators
  • Roadwork
  • Widow's Point
  • The Big Dark Sky
  • The Long Walk
  • The Running Man
  • The Last House on Needless Street
  • Rage
  • Upgrade
  • Hide
  • A Long December
  • Quicksilver
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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, M ...more

Other books in the series

The Button Box (3 books)
  • Gwendy's Magic Feather (The Button Box, #2)
  • Gwendy's Final Task

Articles featuring this book

Lucky us: We're in the midst of a bona fide horror renaissance. The genre has a way of graphically addressing our most deeply held anxieties,...
257 likes · 63 comments
“The world is insane. You only have to watch the news to know it.” 7 likes
“I am what you might call a rambling man, and America is my beat.” 3 likes
More quotes…