Rose Madder, by Stephen King

I have strangely mixed feelings about the works of Stephen King. I love his style of writing; and that’s an understatement. The man is brilliant with words – he can draw pictures with words. He makes his characters come to life. And they say if you’re thinking of writing a book, Stephen King has probably already published it.
But some of those very same highly acclaimed plots just don’t click with me. Consider Rose Madder, for instance. When I saw the cover, I thought this is gonna be real scary. In fact, I mistook it for another one of King’s works, whose title I cannot remember. This one isn’t scary. It’s sort of strange-hand-grabs-your-neck-in-the-dark kinda creepy in places. It’s even disturbing in places. But it is not scary. In fact, the element of paranormal in this book was too Alice Through The Looking Glass for me.
It started off with a realistic plot – wife who is a victim of domestic abuse, psychopathic husband who you wanna kill, and the wife’s decision to leave him after fourteen years of being married to him. That part was all believable. Now, any work of fiction builds up a crescendo and then sort of explodes at the end. That’s what we call the climax of the book. This one on the other hand dwindles into itself. It starts out great, but then fizzles out. By the end of the book, you just go “Meh.” It’s so anticlimactic, so implosive, that you start wondering if this is how he planned to end the book. Especially when you have (successfully) built so much hate in the reader’s mind for Norman Daniels. It doesn’t add up. The epilogue was disappointing too. If I may borrow the term “horcrux” from Harry Potter, the epilogue looked like Norman created one in his wife. Or she turned to her insane counterpart from the painting. If, that is, she was her counterpart.
Truth be told, Norman Daniels is one of the worst fictional villains I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. It truly is a pleasure to hate a character to such an extent that you applaud the author’s brilliance in creating such a character. You feel sympathy for Rosie, yes, but it is Norman you will remember for a long time after you’ve shut the book.
I did not feel Rose Madder’s story was closed properly. Where did she come from? What’s her actual connection to Rosie Real?
Open loops here and there and a fizzled out end. But I would still give it a 3/5 for the sheer brilliance of character portrayal.

Interested in reading this book?

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3 thoughts on “Rose Madder, by Stephen King

  1. Stephen King is one writer whose books I am really looking forward to reading. Although my friends have doubts on my sanity (as they all, unlike me, don't enjoy horror), there are several titles of his that I have on my 'to-read' list. I've heard his characters are very well done though so at least that is a pro in the case of this book. Would you still recommend it, in your opinion?

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  2. I am surprised you haven't read him already! You must read him for his writing style, not necessarily the plot. The plots are brilliant, but not always palatable. I remember being not just disturbed, but utterly disgusted by Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game (which I never finished). It may have had something to do with the fact that I read them in my teens and was not mature enough to comprehend the themes that are dealt with in the books. As for horror, they're not the shock-and-scare kinda horror that you get to read in his books. They are pieces where you know exactly what's gonna happen, and the creep sort of climbs up your spine that you are terrified of the moment that you “know” something's gonna happen. Not a lot of horror authors can write so skilfully. I haven't read a lot of his work (mostly his short stories), and I hated most of what I read. But love him or hate him, you are not gonna forget what he wrote – ever. The worst thing I ever read was Grey Matter. No matter how sick that made me feel, I would still recommend it to everyone.

    Like I said – heights of mixed feelings!

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