This was one of the few books that I picked up blindly and figured it would be decent, since I do enjoy Stephen King, but I was also intrigued that it was written with another author, Richard Chizmar. I also know that you are NOT suppose to judge a book by its cover, but this had such a wonderfully done cover that drew my attention in; making me want to know more about that man in the hat.
Let’s get into it!
We met Gwendy, a 12 year old girl, who is the subject of bullying at her school due to her weight. She has decided to attempt to work out and conquer the “Suicide Stairs” to lose weight. She tries and tries to make it to the top of the stairs in one go and on the day that she finally does, she spots a man in a hat sitting on a bench. The man beckons for her to come over to him.
Hesitantly, Gwendy approaches the man and they engage in short conversation. The man that calls himself Richard Farris, proceeds to present Gwendy with a small, mahogany box. Inside the box are 8 buttons. Each button had its own color and each color represents a continent in the world, except the black button which had no designation but was the most dangerous of all the buttons. The box also had levers. One lever shot out a small chocolate treat in a shape of an animal, while the other spit out silver dollars. Each lever seem to have no limit in the amount of presents it would give out. Farris tells Gwendy she is special and needs to protect the box. That she would know when and how to use the box.
In awe, Gwendy agrees to watch over the box, but it comes at a price. She has nightmares of what each button would do, especially the black one. She often dreamt about the man in the hat and wonder if the box with its riches, wasn’t also a curse.
However, after receiving the box and indulging a bit in its chocolates and money, Gwendy’s life seems to take a positive turn. She starts to blossom into a beautiful young lady, begins to lose weight and exercising becomes something that is no longer taxing to her but something she looked forward too. Her eyesight even improved. She did keep the box hidden and a secret from everyone, even her parents but the responsibility weighed on her. Eventually, even her best friend became distant as her popularity grew and the boxes “secret powers” continued to catapult her into popularity. That popularity, however, would bring serious consequences to those closest to her.
Without giving too much away, Gwendy is faced with making decisions regarding if she should use the box’s powers or not. She questioned its influence in her life and those around her. The story is written beautifully; It puts you into the head of Gwendy and leads you to feeling as obsessed and scared of the button box as she does. You want the best for Gwendy, but you will also find yourself waiting for the shoe to fall and events to take a deadly turn.
The horror aspects in this story are minimal at best but it’s a fantastic and quick read for those who enjoy a suspenseful page turner. The story keeps you engaged and just when you think Gwendy’s life might become mundane, something happens that will have you thinking about the button box and the mysterious Mr. Farris.
My Ratings: 3.75 out of 5. I always need to remind myself that King writes more than just horror. My initial take was a bit hard to get into because I started to realize that the book was not meant to be scary but once I let go of that thinking, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the tone that Chizmar set for Gwendy and her magical journey.