This novella- 164 pages, I read it in an hour- is not what I expected from Stephen King. It’s not horror at all; it’s more of a parable or even just a profile of a character.
In the summer of 1974, 12 year old Gwendy runs up the Suicide Stairs every day. She is bullied at school for being overweight, and is determined to lose weight before starting middle school. One day when she comes to the top, there is a man sitting on a bench, who wants to talk to her. Despite knowing not to talk to strangers, she is lured into conversation, and he gives her a box with buttons on it (not a box of shirt buttons, as I had assumed). Some of the buttons stand for the continents (Asia, Africa, etc) and will cause a destructive incident. The red one takes out whatever she is thinking about, while the black one will cause world annihilation. Then there are two levers on the ends; one causes the box to decant a small chocolate candy that makes a person feel wonderful, want to eat only healthy food, and causes them to become thin, an ace at sports, and a straight A student. The other decants an antique silver dollar worth several hundred dollars. This is a test; Gwendy is to be the box’s caretaker and see how she deals with its power.
Despite being the queen bee at school, Gwendy never bullies, although she does slowly dump her best friend. Her life is not completely perfect; the school bully hates her because she is no longer someone he can make fun of (he used to call her ‘Goodyear’ as in ‘blimp’).
The story takes us from that incident when she is 12 until she is 22. You would think that a story of a teenager with a doomsday box would have a lot of tension and possibly horror to it, but you’d be wrong. Frankly, when I got to the end my reaction was “What??” because there was just so little drama and no real horror. Three stars.
The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents.
This in no way influenced my review.