Gwendy's Magic Feather: The Button Box, Book 2 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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A Castle Rock novel.
Something evil has swept into the small Maine town of Castle Rock on the heels of the latest winter storm. Sheriff Norris Ridgewick and his team are desperately searching for two missing girls, but time is running out to bring them home alive.
In Washington, DC, 37-year-old Gwendy Peterson couldn't be more different from the self-conscious teenage girl who once spent a summer running up Castle Rock's Suicide Stairs. That same summer, she was entrusted - or some might say cursed - with the extraordinary button box by a mysterious stranger in a black suit. The seductive and powerful box offered Gwendy small gifts in exchange for its care until the stranger eventually returned, promising Gwendy she'd never see the box again.
Gwendy has never told a soul about the button box - not even her husband. But one day the button box shows up without warning and without the man in the black suit to explain what she is supposed to do with it. The curious reappearance of the box, along with the troubling disappearances in Castle Rock, leads Gwendy home again...where she just might be able to help rescue the missing girls and stop a dangerous man before he does something too terrible to contemplate....
From New York Times best seller Richard Chizmar comes Gwendy's Magic Feather, a breathtaking novel that asks whether our lives are controlled by fate or the choices we make...and what price we might have to pay for those choices when we reach for the things we most desire. Prepare to return again to Stephen King's Castle Rock, the sleepy little town built on a bedrock of deep, dark secrets, which is about to awaken from its quiet slumber once more.
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|Listening Length||4 hours and 37 minutes|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||19 November 2019|
|Publisher||Hodder & Stoughton|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 6,415 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
24 in Occult Horror Fiction
61 in Supernatural Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
165 in Occult Stories
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Top reviews from Australia
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I also felt the plot fell short of it’s potential. Not sure what I was expecting, perhaps use of the red button in respect perhaps of the mother, the husband or the perp. But the story just, well, wrapped up in the end all too conveniently and rather conventionally. A tad boring?
And what was the point of the husband? Seemingly nothing.
Will I read the third instalment? Well yes, I have to now. And given we return to King’s input, I’m hoping for, well, more.
Top reviews from other countries
I say this up front because looking at reviews of the book's predecessor and that book's co-author Stephen King's novella Elevation, paying £11 or thereabouts for a hardback of that length clearly rankles a lot of people.
I don't have a problem with that.
So, logistics out of the way, what to the book itself?
It's a sequel to the author, Richard Chizmar's, and his co-author Stephen King's 2017 novella Gwendy's Button Box, and picks up with the then teen Gwendy, now a mid-thirties Congresswoman, apparently a long way from the teenage girl given the Pandora's box by the mysterious Richard Farris. As Gwendy returns to her home town of Castle Rock, there are a lot of tensions at play - missing girls, a husband overseas in peril and a President who could start war with North Korea at any moment. When the mysterious box reappears, Gwendy comes to find maybe she's not quite as far from that teen girl she once was after all.
The book is written as a singular effort this time, but the prints of King are still very much present - from his introduction to the fact he's allowing Chizmar to play in his Castle Rock sandbox - as he has allowed the makers of the tv series of the same name to do so recently. Whether it gets the same attention/ sales without King's direct involvement is doubtful, but to consider this a lesser effort because of his absence is doing the highly experienced and talented Chizmar a disservice. And for those who want King (and can handle the fact this isn't 1000 pages long...), there's plenty of his spirit in here: from the locale and the mention of its characters (George Bannerman, Alan Pangborn, Frank Dodds, Pops Merrill all get mentions) to the themes of family, illness, loss, the returning protagonist and so on. It also adheres to the same politics as King - again, not a problem for me, but clearly an issue that has urked some reviewers of King's recent work who don't seem to have understood what he's written throughout his career. So here we have a somewhat alternative 1999 - where an idiot President with a creepy vibe towards women is in charge...and coming across more like the modern day POTUS than that of the time.
The strengths of the book are the scene setting, the characterization and the warmth the author brings to it all - similar to a certain other author then. Storywise the box is more of a McGuffin here, and the mystery of the missing girls and their abductor is almost a sideline: it's obvious who is going to be responsible a long, long time before the reveal comes - and for a long-time King reader, there are obvious parallels to one of his earlier novels.
But regardless of the 'whodunnit' element the book is very enjoyable. It has a warmth even in the Castle Rock winter. It's slight in some ways - not just in length, but in explanation: we're no clearer as to what the box is really about or its wider meaning here than we were in the first book, but it doesn't really matter.
Whether there are to be any more books in the Button Box series (as it's now being described on Amazon) remains to be seen, but for what it is, it's a highly enjoyable evening's read of a book.
So I started out reading away looking forward to this story and after about a quarter I started to loose interest. By halfway I had. And this is because there really isn’t any story to read. It’s just the goings on in Qwendy life as an adult with the box being in the background.
I skimmed the whole next half of the book to make sure it didn’t get interesting and it didn’t. Save yourself the trouble of even picking it up. Nothing happens at all.
All in all, there is a reason Stephen king didn’t wanna continue with this story. He’s a master. He knows when to stop.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2019
After reading it again for the second time, shortly before reading the sequel, I was still unsure as to whether it was crying out for a sequel. It was all packaged up nicely, no loose ends, but clearly Richard Chizmar had been inspired by collaborating with Stephen King (who he refers to as "Steve" in his acknowledgements) and wanted to continue the story.
Except ... he forgot about the button box. The button box does make an appearance, but apart from Gwendy dispensing more "magic" chocolates from it, it's pretty much kept in the background of the book, being all ominous.
Instead the focus is on the "magic" feather mentioned in the title, which gets touched upon about three quarters of the way through the book, and was never mentioned before in the earlier book. So why bring it up now? Clearly Richard didn't want all the focus to be on the button box again (which I still think is begging to be explored and utilised more), but at the same time, I don't think he made much use of the feather either.
And was it the feather that was working its magic, or the button box? Did Gwendy make her own destiny, or was it the box/feather? That's the real story needing to be told, and I still don't think it has been told. Yes, all the buttons relate to a continent, but apart a couple of incidents in the first book, the rest of the buttons are not explored. I kept thinking they would be further when I started this, but unfortunately not.
Despite my grumblings, Richard has still written a good book, and it's clear that he has incorporated Stephen's tone into his writing and kept Castle Rock at the forefront of the story. Alan Pangborn is also mentioned in passing, who Stephen King fans will recognise from The Dark Half and Needful Things but also more recently in Castle Rock for me. (There's probably other names, but that was the only obvious one that I knew from the TV show.)
I'm still non the wiser as to who the mysterious, omnipotent Richard Farris is, or if Richard Chizmar knows what his purpose is. Neither do we find out what happened to the box between it being taken away from 18-year-old Gwendy, to the now 37-year-old Gwendy - we know it goes to someone else/multiple people to "look after" and there are hints that previous people have used the box for darker means. Frequent references to a sex starved creepy President and missing girls liberally sprinkled throughout the story will satisfy the Stephen King stans.
It is an incredibly short read though - the page count is 323, but if you take out the blank pages between chapters, the single page drawings, the "one paragraph" chapters, you'll easily read this in no time. I read this in a couple of hours, and I didn't feel that it was a waste of a couple of hours either.
I enjoyed revisiting Gwendy's life, and seeing her grow after we left her in Castle Rock in her teens. There are touches and reminders of the first book, for the people who didn't re-read the first book, so you will be able to pick up the story again. I wouldn't say that this is a stand alone book - I would say that you would need to have read Button Box first.
At the end of reading, I find myself a little at a loss. On the one hand, it's still an excellent follow up to Gwendy's Button Box, the story is really good - but there's something missing. I wanted the button box to be explored and I think there's possibly another story in there, just begging to be written. I need to find out more about Richard Farris and this box. If you can get past that, then it's an excellent book.
Just finished. What a charming book; charm seems to be a running theme in all meanings. It was lovely to check in with Gwendy again and see how her life has evolved since her first encounter with the box. I was a little afraid she may have become quite withdrawn and lead a quiet life after the events of the first book.
But alas, no! Congress lady and best selling author reminds us that this is one special lady. Then, at a seeming crossroad of life, the box appears again. I mean crossroad as in we are unsure of her mother's mortality, her political stances are being tested and her husband is in an agressive working condition. You get the feeling one of these is going to be affected by the return, especially as Richard Farris makes no appearance to clarify why the box is there. I trended towards the feeling the box was here for temptation or harm this time around. The missing children, Mrs Petersons declining health and the infrequent calls not to mention Carol Hoffmans hostility pushed me towards this.
Then there were the beacons of hope. The lucky feather, the pack of cards, the miracle curing animal chocolates. Gwendy always believed in magic, magic endeared her to her husband, made her spend her holiday money on a feather and ultimately made her use the box responsibly. It paid off.
Which is why Chizmar was the best person to be custodian to Gwendy. Great job, I'll be reading again and it will be a joy every time.