Bookmarks Issue: 
Stephen King

A-Lisey’s StoryWhen her husband, Scott, a best-selling and Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, dies after 25 years of marriage, Lisey Landon starts to face the demons that followed her troubled husband throughout life. As she sorts through Scott’s coveted papers and unpublished manuscripts, she begins to hear Scott’s voice through her catatonic sister, Amanda, and to receive frightening messages from a strange man. Soon, Lisey is led back to Scott’s youth and an eerie world he called "Boo’ya Moon," a beautiful if dangerous escape from his tormented childhood. As Lisey faces this haunted past, she risks her life—and discovers healing and extraordinary love.
Scribner. 528 pages. $28. ISBN: 0743289412

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Lisey’s Story is a beautiful, exquisitely told story, a tale of romance and passion so strong that it can outlast even the separation of death. … Lisey is one of the most skillfully-crafted characters King has created, and the story resonates deeply because of her." David J. Montgomery

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Mr. King has delivered his version of Joycean wordplay, idiosyncrasy, voluptuousness and stubborn, obsessive chronology in Lisey’s Story. … When Mr. King writes in a coda to this blunt but stunning book that ‘much here is heartfelt, very little is clever,’ he is telling the truth." Janet Maslin

Newsday 3.5 of 5 Stars
"For me, what won’t go away isn’t the horror show stuff (the mad boy chained in the basement, the ax murder, the slimy monster, the attack on the protagonist’s breast by a psycho with a can opener—though on second thought, I might be having a little problem with the can opener), it’s something subtler yet more insidious." Marion Winik

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 3 of 5 Stars
"This novel is a passionate, often wrenching account of the unspoken bonds and hidden languages of a long-term marriage. And King makes Lisey’s pain become almost indelibly our own." Todd Camp

Los Angeles Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Although it does deliver moments of startling lyricism and insight, it also descends into the sort of paranormal mishugas that has kept King on the bestseller list for 30 years. … The truth is that he writes wonderful prose when he drops the horror-movie theatrics and cutesy language." Steve Almond

Philadelphia Inquirer 1 of 5 Stars
"His newest novel is an attempt to parlay [his] reputation into substantial work, but it comes at the expense of what made King such a good author in the first place: the ability to hook readers with everyday situations viewed through a horrific prism. … All ancillary subplots notwithstanding, this is pretty much a Misery rehash set at a slow burn." Edward Champion

Critical Summary

Even by Stephen King standards, Lisey’s Story is haunting. Yet though it contains some supernatural elements, it is really a love story that speaks to passion, the intimacy of marriage, the craft of writing—and true madness. In Scott’s escapist world and its relation to Lisey, the horrific elements come into play, but most critics agreed that despite the emotional punch of the story, it is not King’s best. A convoluted stream-of-consciousness style, flashbacks within flashbacks, too much baby talk, and the novel’s sheer length put off some reviewers, while others questioned whether what makes King’s novels sell—their haunting, horrific gore—successfully works here. Still, it’s classic Stephen King: you should know by now whether that’s to your taste.