CONSTANT READER REVIEW – Rose Madder by Stephen King

“It’s best to be ruthless with the past. It ain’t the blows we’re dealt that matter, but the ones we survive.”

Let’s get this out of the way – this book is…odd. Bad? No. Up to King’s high standards? Also no. However, there are some great things about this book and some chilling things about this book.

The suspense in this book is palpable. When Rose initially escapes from Norman, my heart was pounding. This impending sense of terror lessened as the story progressed, which is likely why this isn’t a favorite among Constant Readers. If King could have sustained that feeling of doom, this could easily be one of his scariest books.

“Come over here – I want to talk to you up close.”

Norman might be one of the most terrifying villains in King’s writing (well, until a certain point…then he just becomes a bit too exaggerated and a bit too…crazy). Norman is scary because he’s REAL. At least for the first half-ish of the book, he’s just an angry, abusive, power-hungry, psychotic cop with a huge ego and an even bigger temper. He’s an absolute wild card – you never know what’s going to set Norman off, or how far his anger will carry him. The parts inside Norman’s head are horrific.

“The world could be good. She supposed she had known that as a child, but she had forgotten.”

The ladies! Oh, the ladies of Daughters & Sisters. They take a backseat to the larger story, but they are fun and amazing and badass. They are resilient despite their own hardships, and the way they rally around Rose (and each other) is heartwarming. And Gert! Oh, Gert. What an absolute delight!

“Some things call to us, that’s all. It’s as if the people who made them were speaking inside our heads.”

Now…the painting. Of course, the painting is kinda-sorta a huge part of the story, but the scenes involving the painting (especially the initial one) are a little drawn out and a little repetitive. Actually, the book, in general, is a bit repetitive and could have easily been 200 pages shorter (or even a short story).

“And sometimes men had to learn what it was to be afraid of a woman, didn’t they?”

I think overall the idea here is good. It suffers from “too much-itis” – the story is a bit too much. Norman as a villain is a bit too much. Either way, i’m glad I read it and I would still recommend that any King fan give this one a go. It wasn’t an unenjoyable reading experience, it just doesn’t match up to some of his other works.

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