This is my favorite book of the challenge so far. It’s also only the second book, third if I count The Tommyknockers that I read before the challenge officially started. Duma Key came out at the start of 2008 and that’s probably the first and last time that I read the book.
Until now. It’s a freaking big book. I didn’t know if I’d finish it before the end of the month. It isn’t that I’m a particularly slow reader, but I usually have several different things that I’m reading at the same time. I read my hardcover copy of Duma Key which pretty much requires a lap pillow or something to hold the book for maximum comfort.
How to Draw a Picture
Following a near-fatal accident that leaves Edgar Freemantle suicidal, missing one arm, and difficulty walking–he relocates to Duma Key off the Florida coast. Edgar rents the house he calls Big Pink and rekindles an interest in drawing and painting. Only Edgar’s Muse taps into his newly awakened ability to change reality with his art. The result is a novel that builds like a rising tide until it swamps everything on Duma Key.
King Strikes a Chord
I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Aside from writing, I have a passion for illustration. I don’t usually work with physical media these days, I’m excited about digital painting. But a story about an artist who can shift reality with his work? isn’t that what all artists, whatever the form it takes, ultimately want to do? Writers tell stories that, although fictional, contain truths about being human.
In Duma Key and Edgar Freemantle, King tells an engaging story that builds with each stroke. Edgar’s head injury and missing right arm awaken something else in him. A psychic power that reveals things to him that he couldn’t know and gives him the power to change reality in significant and terrifying ways.
Freemantle’s ability gives him a connection to a darker and older power with hints of Lovecraft. It takes time before Freemantle begins to understand what he is painting–and what the connection is to Elizabeth Eastlake, the old woman that he initially calls ‘Bridge of the Godfather.’
Daughter of the Godfather
As much as the story is Edgar Freemantle’s, it is also the story of Elizabeth Eastlake. Old now, but as a child she had fallen and suffered a head injury that woke similar abilities in her as Edgar’s accident did in him. Through the course of the book, as Edgar paints and develops his skills, Elizabeth’s story is also uncovered. In a way Duma Key is a straight mystery novel with Freemantle as the amateur detective working to solve the crime. His methods might be fantastical at times, but he is digging deeper to find out the truth and stop the bad guy.
It’s a cold case investigation story with a satisfying ending. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. Many of my own stories tend toward mystery or crime stories. From the Moreau Society novels to my feline detective Dupin in The Murders in the Reed Moore Library.
Moving to the Night Shift Collection
The challenge title for March is Night Shift. It’s a collection of stories that I’m always happy to revisit. If you’d like to join me in the reading challenge, sign up at ryanwriter.link/kingchallenge-19.
When you sign up you'll join my readers' group Readinary and receive a PDF download of all of the books in the challenge this year.
If you've read Duma Key, what did you think? Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.