On the one hand, it is about the love and intimacy shared between Lisey and her husband Scott over 25 years. He has been dead for 2 years, and Lisey is still in mourning. Scott Landon was an acclaimed writer, and she has yet to sort through his study. She is being pressured by a university professor to give Scott’s papers to him. Lisey is also having to deal with a mentally ill sister who is going through a period of catatonia when she starts being harassed by a crazed fan who threatens to hurt her “in places you didn’t let the boys touch at junior high dances” if she doesn’t release Scott’s papers.
On the other hand, it is written by Stephen King. Normalcy is simply a facade in his novels. Underneath each ordinary layer lies a current of prickly tension. Nothing is ever as it seems. Scott Landon has a horrifying past that followed him his entire life. His family legacy is a mental illness far beyond the garden variety depression, abuse, self-mutilation, and suicide.
The truth is revealed little by little throughout the novel, so I feel that to give much more detail would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that I would wake up in the dark feeling as though something was there. This went on the entire time I was reading the first half of the novel.
It wasn’t until Lisey began to actively fight back that this feeling of dread at night went away. Unfortunately, this is when I feel the story started to lose its steam.
It’s still worth the read for its fascinating take on mental illness and the source of a horror writer’s imagination.