Bag of Bones (1998)
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror/Romance (Supernatural)
Novelist Mike Noonan loses his wife to an unexpected death. While mourning her death, he begins to have haunting dreams about her and their summer house, Sara Laughs. At the same time, he discovers a number of things that his wife had kept from telling him. In the face of all this mystery, Mike is compelled to go to Sara Laughs. While there he inadvertently becomes involved in a custody battle between a young women and her father-in-law. Mike becomes attached to the young woman and her daughter, only to realize through supernatural visitations, dreams and research, that all of them, including his dead wife, are tied to the history of murders that have been committed in the community.
Geographical Setting: Maine
Time Period: 1990s
The work is character-driven and relatively slow-paced until the end. It is slowly chilling rather than abruptly horrific. The intended audience is broad. There are romantic and supernatural elements. This book might appeal to people that are interested in the horror genre as well as description about married life and developing attraction. The use of a young child as a major character integrates elements of innocence and light atmosphere in what might otherwise be an entirely “heavy” book (heavy in atmosphere, plot and character development). Other appeal characteristics include description of rural life and professional writing.
Red Flags: There are some graphic sexual descriptions and violent incidents, including rape and murder. There is some profanity.
The Stand (1991; uncut)
Author: Stephen King
Genre (and subgenre): Horror (Apocalyptic/Medical)
In a government facility in California, an engineered virus is accidentally released. One soldier manages to escape the building before the automatic lock-down; he flees the base with his wife and child. In doing so, he carries the virus with him and spreads it across the United States. This “superflu” has a 99.4% infection rate, and those who are infected die. As people succumb to the illness, the government tries to deny its existence and to suppress the true state of affairs. Society comes apart at the seams. Meanwhile, those who are not infected struggle to survive in a dangerous environment of fear, hysteria, and chaos. Drawn by strange dreams of an old woman in Nebraska and an ominous figure in the west, the survivors make their way across the country; they must choose between the two figures, in an apocalyptic showdown between good and evil.
Geographical Setting: United States
Time Period: 1990-1991
King uses the storyteller method, building from an accident into the collapse of the world as we know it. The story is told from the perspective of various characters in turn. King provides views of events through the filter of characters’ minds, which will appeal to people who are interested in the psychological side. The story combines medical, biological disaster and apocalyptic, Christian themes.
Similar Authors: Dean R. Koontz, Robert McCammon's Swan Song
Red Flags: frequent profanity; drug and alcohol use; graphic descriptions of plague symptoms and deaths; graphic sex scenes, graphic violence, including rape, suicide, torture, and murder; cannibalism; Satanic and occult themes. Readers may find some of the illustrations disturbing.