Book Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

The King journey continues, this month with Duma Key.

Book Description

When Edgar Freemantle moves to the remote island of Duma Key to escape his past, he doesn’t expect to find much there.

But Duma has been waiting for him, and something in the view from his window urges him to discover a talent he never knew he had.

Edgar Freemantle begins to paint. And as he paints, the island’s secrets begin to stir. Secrets of children lost in the undertow, of a ghost ship riding the distant horizon – and a family’s buried past reaching long hands into the present.

My Thoughts

No matter my views on any King book, something that is constant across all his books, and why I will read each and every single one, is because of how well he writes, he never fails to paint a picture with his words. While reading Duma Key, I was all consumed, I’ve never been to Florida, never seen a picture of Duma Key, never even knew if it was a real place, but having read this novel, I can give you a tour of the island, and point out the bits to avoid, because this is a horror novel, and no one needs to die while on an island tour! Duma Key isn’t only a horror novel, it’s a tale of loss and grief, love and overcoming.

As for the characters in this novel, they were a raging success, the main protagonist, Edgar was a character to get behind and root for. When thinking of the best way to describe Edgar, the word haunted comes to mind, and that haunted feeling spreads throughout this entire novel, giving it this dark feeling of unease. Alongside Edgar, there were two other central characters, and they were expertly crafted too. King breathes life into these three characters and they evoked all the right emotions at the right time, you truly become invested in their wellbeing, but also come to love the relationship between the characters.

What’s great about King’s novels is how hard it is to figure anything out. While you can guess a vague direction the plot may take, you can never underestimate King’s ability to throw a curveball. Duma Key is truly an exceptional novel… until the last fifth of it, and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t know but my attention just fell off, the suspense and gripping nature of the ‘build-up’ was fantastic, but the ending just fell by the way side. I read somewhere that King is an exceptional storyteller, but he struggles to end a book to satisfaction. While I disagree with that statement, there is always an exception to the rule, and Duma Key is the exception. I may be in the minority with this opinion, but I read all 1000 pages of The Stand, and would happily read another 1000 pages of it, yet here, I felt this novel could do with being shorter than its 800 pages, the ending just felt too dragged out for the level of action and excitement that occurred.

Duma Key has left me conflicted because it was on par to become one of my favourite King novels, until the last 100 pages. Which leaves me in a pickle on whether or not to recommend this one to others, so I’ll conclude this review by stating would I read this novel again: maybe, I read it over the course of three weeks and that may be the reason the ending didn’t live up to par, maybe I dragged it out, rather than the ending being dragged out. So while this wouldn’t be my first choice King recommendation, I’m so glad I read it, it was a great experience overall, I fell in love with some of the characters, was haunted by some of the events that occurred, and I still remain in awe of King’s imagination.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

  1. I love Duma Key, but I can’t argue with you about the ending. It doesn’t do the rest of the book justice. However, the rest of the book is so good that I still recommend it, just with a bit of a caveat.

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  2. Maybe we should blame me for the ending not living up to expectations since I was who came through with an over-the-top prediction!! 🙂 I’m willing to forgive the ending after sleeping on it. I love Edgar, Wireman, and Elizabeth too much not to recommend this one to people!

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  3. I was an 80’s to early 90’s King fan. Haven’t found a compelling book by him in quite some time, in my opinion. A fabulous storyteller with an amazing ability to make his characters leap from the pages with how real they are, I find the content of his stories to be lacking. I actually prefer his son, Joe Hill, and his books, to anything his father publishes nowadays.

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  4. I’ve always heard good things about this one and wanted to give it a try…someday:) I still haven’t read The Stand🙈 I’m not sure I would’ve agreed with that endings statement about King since I’ve loved so many of his books BUT after reading The Outsider I’d completely agree with it!! That book needed shortening by at least 200 pages and the ending was the worst…left me wondering if his editor is scared to edit his books!!

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    1. Haha, I can picture an editor sitting at their desk feeling so conflicted, knowing they should make some changes but being scared because it’s King!! I have The Outsider to read so I’ll bare that in mind. A few of us read Duma Key and were feeling a bit let down by the ending but I don’t think they were as disappointed by it as I was. You must make time for The Stand, it’s incredible, I know for a fact, I’ll read it again one day!

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  5. Wonderful review! I haven’t read this one yet and with so many King stories out there, I’m not sure when I will, but I’m definitely curious… A shame the ending didn’t live up to the rest of the story though.

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  6. Hmm… I’ve heard quite a few times that King endings can be a bit deflating or unexpectedly annoying… ha, I wouldn’t know myself because I STILL haven’t read a King book and I have been planning to for more than 2 years 😀 I am such a wuss!

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    1. Yeah, he’s definitely not known for his endings, whereas his son, Joe Hill excels at them! Oh you must read some King to experience his imagination! Not all his books are horror – Joyland has a horror inflection but is more a coming-of-age tale, and it’s absolutely brilliant! I also really enjoyed Under the Dome which isn’t horror 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, interesting that the son has excelled.. a case of learn from others’ mistakes? hahaha… 😛 anyway, I agree, I must certainly read KIng just to say I’ve read KIng 😀 I have The Stand ready- the uncut version, it was a hand-me-down book from a friend and it’s seen better days but I definitely plan to start it soon.. Did you like The Stand?

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