Review: Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

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Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Novella
Pages: 175 (seems much shorter)
Series: None
Release date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications

4 Stars

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Gwendy’s Button Box is set in Castle Rock, Maine, which from what I’ve heard is a very significant place for readers of Stephen King. Many of his works have been set there. I’m personally not familiar with those works (I’ll get there, I promise) but I wanted to put it out there.

The story’s fairly straight forward. Gwendy is a young girl who, one morning, meets a mysterious man who introduces himself as Richard Farris. She’s wary of the man but he doesn’t seem to have any ill intentions toward her. He gives her a box. The box has buttons on it, and two levers. When you pull one lever, it gives you a little chocolate treat in the shape of an animal. When you pull the second, it gives you a silver coin. The button though, have more dangerous functions.

Gwendy is told to take care of the box and use it wisely. The novella is set over a period of many years, as long as Gwendy has the box, and is a tale of  how she deals with having so much power handed to her, and how the box affects her life, because it’s not just an ordinary box; it seems to have a life of its own and it impacts her life greatly.

It’s an eerie and mysterious story, but the main theme is responsibility and choice. What if someone came up to you and presented you with a ‘end the world’ switch, or something that could change the planet? Do you think you would be able to handle that responsibility? Do you think you can be trusted with that? What choices would you make if you had infinite destructed power? I, for one, would not want Gwendy’s box. I think of myself as a fairly well-organised person and I wouldn’t trust myself with something like that. I doubt I’d go the apocalyptic route, but would I bet the world on that? Not really.

But it’s something to think about, for sure.

Both Stephen King and Richard Chizmar have done a marvellous job in writing a short, fast and engaging read. I highly recommend that you pick this one up; even though I feel weird recommending a book co-written by Stephen King. Doesn’t the name Stephen King already make it a must-read? I think it does. So… you know, read it.

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