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Friday, August 30, 2019

What I'm Reading: Gwendy's Magic Feather [Booklist Review]

Gwendy’s Magic Feather.

Chizmar, Richard (author).
Nov. 2019. 330p. Cemetery Dance, $25 (9781587677311)
REVIEW. First published September 1, 2019 (Booklist).
In the follow up to bestseller, Gwendy’s Button Box [link to my star review], co-written with Stephen King, Chizmar brings readers back to Gwendy’s Castle Rock, with King’s blessings in the forward. Gwendy, now in her late 30s is a Congressperson representing her hometown, living in DC. Readers are treated to a captivating opening that not catches them up on Gwendy’s life and sets the stage of her alternative history 1999, but also gives some background on what happened to her as a child. When the Button Box spontaneously appears in her DC office on the eve of Christmas recess, Gwendy and the Box return home to a town in turmoil: young girls are being kidnapped, her mom is recovering from cancer, and a paranoid Gwendy cannot stop looking over her shoulder. The story is told in classic supernatural thriller mode with all of the unsettling, creeping dread of horror, all accomplished without gore. Ultimately though, this is a mythical story with an epic feel that still moves swiftly. Yes there is a compelling crime plot, but this is the story of Gwedny’s finding her personal power, on her own, to shake the demons of the Box even as it is right in front of her, and live up to her full potential and promise. An easy choice to hand off to fans of King’s Castle Rock mythos [who will love all of the “easter eggs” here], Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas Series, and most series by Charlaine Harris.

YA Statement: Teens who enjoyed the first book will be equally as enamored with the sequel. Even though Gwendy is now a full fledged adult, the coming of age themes are still very strong here. Also any teens who enjoy King’s books set in the Castle Rock mythos and those who like watching Stranger Things should check this one out.

As usual, the above was my draft review that I turned into the Booklist. The magazine review is shorter and does not include the extra information below.

Further Appeal: This is a sequel for sure. In the introStephen King talks about how Chizmar has taken Gwendy into adulthood. While you could technically get by without having read the novella which precedes this book, without it, this new story will be missing the emotional foundation upon which the novella is built and then has deposited as a sturdy foundation to this sequel.

People will still like it if they read this book alone, but they will like it more if they already knew Gwendy.

The book has a very strong narration from above, an all seeing narrator, this adds a satisfying level of eerie-ness to the entire story. Also escalating the eerie factor, this is a world that feels 100% real, but there is just a touch of magic on the edges. Chizmar pulls you under his spell with great character development and the correct amount of frame and setting details. As a result, everything is more creepy because it could really be happening. You believe it all, even after finishing the story. You know it can't be real, but what if...?

The biggest appeals are the Castle Rock Mythos, the sympathetic heroine, and the paranormal investigation storyline.

Three Words That Describe This Book: compelling, eerie, sympathetic heroine

Readalikes: I listed 2 paranormal series above, but really any paranormal investigation series, fiction or nonfiction will work here, especially those with a well developed and sympathetic hero/heroine. Odd Thomas is a perfect example.

An oldie but a goodie paranormal investigation story that this reminded me of is Alexandra Sokoloff's The Unseen. Here is a link to my review. I checked and my system still has 8 copies of this book available, including the one I bought for the Berwyn Library, so you can still get it.

But as I also mentioned above in the appeal section, this book, it all feels real, so don't forget to suggest nonfiction paranormal investigation books as a readalike too. I know you have tons on the shelf.

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