Lisey (Lee-See) Landon lost her husband, the famous writer Scott Landon, two years ago and only just now started cleaning up his writing area. In doing so, she starts on a journey recounting events in her life with Scott and stories he has told her, setting into motion a parallel plot. One story is of Scott and his family, and his life with Lisey, and the second is in the present, of Lisey going through Scott’s things and being stalked by one of Scott’s deranged fans.
Scott’s family is plagued with mental illness; members of his family either end up catatonic or violent to the point of murder. Lisey recounts periods of time when Scott wasn’t acting normal and that Scott could transport himself to a place he called Boo’ya Moon. While strange things do seem to happen, it is never certain how much of it is in Scott’s mind and how much is real until things start coming full circle and Lisey herself must travel to Scott’s Boo’ya Moon.
In many ways this is typical Stephen King: it has all the elements you want and it’s even set in Maine. But that’s not exactly right; I said it and at the same time another word comes to mind: caricature. We all know King has a tendency to be self-referential, and Lisey’s Story is no exception. There are references to places King fans will have read about before, like Derry and Gilead, even if the latter really plays no role. There is the invention of idiomatic phrases that exist only for the sake of being invented idiomatic phrases like “Strap On Whenever It Seems Appropriate.” Granted any two people around each other long enough will make up their own in-jokes and sayings, but it was almost done to the absurd here.
In essence, Lisey’s Story is a love story between the title character and Scott, and I really like the parts where King reined it in a little. The parts that included the monster with the piebald side, and escapes through other dimensions just really seemed forced this time around. I know King can’t help but go for the creepy crawlies and bogeymen — it’s his stock and trade — but the psychological impact of the story was really diminished by their inclusion this time. He could have had a perfectly good psychological thriller based on Scott’s history alone and how exactly the family madness manifested itself.
For King fans, this is an acceptable read, maybe more complex than necessary, but it will tide you over until the next story. For non-King fans, this probably isn’t the one you want to pick up. Now, it’s not horrible, but like I said, it is a caricature of his other works. Many people might know that I have a serious love/hate relationship with Stephen King’s works (for various reasons I won’t get into now) but I do genuinely enjoy some of his stuff, just not this story in its entirety. I really liked Scott’s story and how it was interwoven with Lisey’s “now,” but everything else should have been in some other story. C+.