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Lisey's Story Hardcover – October 24, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 794 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Since his first novel was published in 1974, Stephen King has stretched the boundaries of the written word, not only bringing horror to new heights, but trying his hand at nearly every possible genre, including children's books, graphic novels, serial novels, literary fiction, nonfiction, westerns, fantasy, and even e-books (remember The Plant?). With Lisey's Story, once again King is trying something different. Lisey's Story is as much a romance as it is a supernatural thriller--but don't let us convince you. Who better to tell readers if King has written a romantic thriller than Nora Roberts? We asked Nora to read Lisey's Story and give us her take. Check out her review below. --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts, who also writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, is the author of way too many bestselling books to name here (over 150!), but some of our favorites include: Angels Fall, Born in Death, Blue Smoke, and The Reef.

Stephen King hooked me about three decades ago with that sharply faceted, blood-stained jewel, The Shining. Through the years he's bumped my gooses with kiddie vampires, tingled my spine with beloved pets gone rabid, justified my personal fear of clowns and made me think twice about my cell phone. I've always considered The Stand--a long-time favorite--a towering tour de force, and have owed its author a debt as this was the first novel I could convince my older son to read from cover to cover.

But with Lisey's Story, King has accomplished one more feat. He broke my heart.

Lisey's Story is, at its core, a love story--heart-wrenching, passionate, terrifying and tender. It is the multi-layered and expertly crafted tale of a twenty-five year marriage, and a widow's journey through grief, through discovery and--this is King, after all--through a nightmare scape of the ordinary and extraordinary. Through Lisey's mind and heart, the reader is pulled into the intimacies of her marriage to bestselling novelist Scott Landon, and through her we come to know this complicated, troubled and heroic man.

Two years after his death, Lisey sorts through her husband's papers and her own shrouded memories. Following the clues Scott left her and her own instincts, she embarks on a journey that risks both her life and her sanity. She will face Scott's demons as well as her own, traveling into the past and into Boo'ya Moon, the seductive and terrifying world he'd shown her. There lives the power to heal, and the power to destroy.

Lisey Landon is a richly wrought character of charm and complexity, of realized inner strength and redoubtable humor. As the central figure she drives the story, and the story is so vividly textured, the reader will draw in the perfumed air of Boo'ya Moon, will see the sunlight flood through the windows of the Scott's studio--or the night press against them. Her voice will be clear in your ear as you experience the fear and the wonder. If your heart doesn't hitch at the demons she faces in this world and the other, if it doesn't thrill at her courage and endurance, you're going to need to check with a cardiologist, first chance.

Lisey's Story is bright and brilliant. It's dark and desperate. While I'll always consider The Shining, my first ride on King's wild Tilt-A-Whirl, a gorgeous, bloody jewel, I found, on this latest ride, a treasure box heaped with dazzling gems.

A few of them have sharp, hungry teeth. --Nora Roberts

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Following King's triumphant return to the world of gory horror in Cell, the bestselling author proves he's still the master of supernatural suspense in this minimally bloody but disturbing and sorrowful love story set in rural Maine. Lisey's husband, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Scott Landon, has been dead for two years at the book's start, but his presence is felt on every page. Lisey hears him so often in her head that when her catatonic sister, Amanda, begins speaking to her with Scott's voice, she finds it not so much unbelievable as inevitable. Soon she's following a trail of clues that lead her to Scott's horrifying childhood and the eerie world called Boo'ya Moon, all while trying to help Amanda and avoid a murderous stalker. Both a metaphor for coming to terms with grief and a self-referencing parable of the writer's craft, this novel answers the question King posed 25 years ago in his tale "The Reach": yes, the dead do love. (Oct.)
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (October 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743289412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743289412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (794 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bryant Burnette on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big King fan, and -- unless I'm dead broke or just plain dead -- will always read his new novels as soon as they come out, but all in all, I'd have to say "Lisey's Story" is not one of my favorites. It's not bad, exactly; there are way too many beautifully written passages to even consider calling the book bad.

However, I think that the book was badly in need of some editorial intervention at some point. I'm not referring to the book's length (though it IS too long, probably by about 300 pages), but rather to (1) an incredibly excessive use of silly language and (2) too many different threads of plot that don't manage to fully connect.

In terms of the silly language . . . well, "silly" is patently the wrong word for me to use. Here's the deal. The two main characters, one of whom exists only in recollection by the other, are a (formerly) married couple who have a sort of private language consisting of certain phrases ("Strap On Whenever It Seems Appropriate," for example) and words (replacing "afghan," meaning the sawhl. with "african," and so on). This is nothing revolutionary; it's the same thing as an inside joke, and everyone I know, in each significant relationship, has a few of tthose that get tossed around until they do in fact become a sort of private language. But here's the problem with that in a novel: it kept me at a distance the entire time. I think it was designed to bring me into the interior lives of these two people, but it had the exact opposite effect on me, and at a certain point in time I began to get actively annoyed every time this sort of thing appeared. And it's used A LOT. Less so toward the end of the novel, but it's incessant in the first 200 pages.
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Format: Hardcover
At first blush, LISEY'S STORY is not your daddy's Stephen King. To be sure, there are initial hints of things that go bump, but it's not like THE SHINING, SALEM'S LOT, or even CELL. If, as King has said, MISERY was his love letter to fans, LISEY'S STORY is a love letter to his wife, written from the perspective of his death. This is not an easy concept to get your head around at first. But if you're willing to invest time and attention to what King seems to consider his penultimate work, then at the very least you will encounter a beautifully told tale that is worth your time, energy and money.

There was a point very early on when it looked to me as if LISEY'S STORY was going to be King's major attempt at non-genre fiction, and I almost stopped reading. There are two protagonists herein: Lisey Debusher Landon and her husband of a quarter-century, Scott. In the "now" of LISEY'S STORY, Scott, an award-winning author, has been deceased for two years, and Lisey has multiple balls in the air: her relationship with each of her somewhat batty sisters, pressure from a pushy academic type to gain access to Scott's trove of papers, and her own grief. As I started to set aside this weighty tome, I thought, "More John Irving than John Saul, aha!" There's nothing wrong with books of domestic matters, of course; they're just not my cup of tea.

But I didn't give up, and as the novel progressed, I discovered that there is much more to LISEY'S STORY than domestic drama. A great deal of this tale consists of flashbacks concerning the long course of the Landons' courtship and marriage, and we ultimately come to know Scott, who is much more than a wonderful husband and wordsmith. Scott has secrets, not the least important of which is his ability to "heal quick," his "books" and his love for Lisey.
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Format: Hardcover
Lisey Landon, widow of best-selling horror author Scott Landon, is finally getting around to cleaning out her late husband's possessions. While going through his writings and memorabilia, she is assailed with a flood of memories of her love for, and life with, her tortured genius husband. At the same time, Lisey's sister has a mental breakdown and a crazed madman threatens Lisey's life if she doesn't turn all of Scott's memorabilia over to him.

King is back in top form as a horror writer. This story is about as horrific, creepy, and gruesome as they come. Scott had a nasty childhood and a special power he called upon when things got tough. However, mixed in with the horror is a reflection on the wellspring of creation that a writer draws upon and a story of a strong love that outlasts even death. The title notwithstanding, this is really Scott's story rather than Lisey's. It reminded me a bit of the book "Rebecca," because it's Scott's strong presence that prevails throughout the book rather than Lisey's, and it's often Scott's words that issue from Lisey's lips.

Although King has deftly woven together a story that balances both horror and love and includes some heart-pounding scenes, I had to knock a star off the rating because of King's continual use of invented words and pretentious phrases that were part of the Landon family language. For the first quarter of the book, I found the constant presence of such coined words as "blood-bool," SOWISA," "Boo'ya Moon," and "long boy" so confusing that I wished I had a secret decoder ring to turn them into more intelligible phrases. And Lisey's constant quoting of family phrases such as "puffickly huh-yooge" and "keep your string a-drawing" became irritating after a while. In spite of this flaw, "Lisey's Story" is a riveting book that the author has obviously poured his heart and soul into. Stephen King fans won't want to miss this journey into the darkness and back!

Eileen Rieback
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