Stephen King is a prolific author and has been one of my favourite authors since I was a child (all except the Dark Tower novels, I could never really get into them). 2018 sees 2 new Castle Rock novellas published; Gwendy’s Button Box and Elevation. Gwendy’s Button Box has been written with a collaborator – Richard Chizmar, and while I enjoyed it, I felt it was a bit of a let-down and could have been so much more.
Gwendy’s Button Box is set in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine (Stephen King fans will be extremely familiar with this town). It is set in 1974 and follows 10 years in the life of Gwendy Peterson.
12-year-old Gwendy Peterson is slightly overweight and uses the Suicide Stairs (a 305-step staircase that zigzags up the cliffside in Castle Rock) as part of her exercise routine. One summer day she meets a black suited man with a little hat, who introduces himself as Richard Farris, who claims to know all about her and gives her a gift of a button box. The button box is made from mahogany and features buttons and levers. By pulling the first lever the box gives her a small piece of chocolate that helps with her weightloss. The second level gives a silver dollar worth hundreds of dollars. Six of the buttons represent continents, while the red button does anything she wants, and the black will destroy everything.
She is entrusted with this box to make the right decisions. As she goes through school, she drops her excess weight, gets good grades at school, family life improves, and everything is perfect. But the box is a big burden and becomes a huge responsibility as she soon finds out once the nightmares begin…
Overall, this is a unique story from the master storyteller, along with Richard Chizmar. As mentioned at the start, I felt that this book was a bit of a let-down. It felt rushed with its very short chapters. There was no real character building and it left the story without any real explanations as to why the events occurred or what indeed the Button Box was really for, where it came from or even why Gwendy was given custodianship of it. I feel that if it was expanded into a full novel and expanded the characters it could have been so much more enjoyable and a much better story.
Not one of the best but was enjoyable, just needs to be expanded with a bit more detail.
RRP: £12.99 (Hardback) / £8.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)