One of my favorite authors from Childhood was Stephen King. I read “Eyes of the Dragon”, “Carrie” and “Firstarter” perhaps at younger ages than I should have and multiple times each. I was eager to read his novella collaboration with Richard Chipman, “Gwendy’s Button Box”.
Sometimes collaborations between authors work great and other times they just fall flat. The two authors write seamlessly so much that it often seems just like a Stephen King novel alone. He shares in jokes with those who know his works well such as having the villain share the same initials as Randall Flagg of The Dark Tower series, and has his mention places we know Flagg’s was present though as another character. The book themes even include obsession over material objects and gifts that seem great at first then horrific are reminiscent of “Needful Things” and “The Tommyknockers”.
The central character, Richard Farris, observes Gwendy running to lose weight and gain the respect of her peers, some of whom have started teasing her. He gives her the titular box which gives presents in the form of chocolates and rare coins and has buttons which she can push but may have great consequences. She learns more about the buttons and their power, yet even within the book’s resolution they are never fully explained.
Gwendolyn grows up in the book and just having the box changes her life and those around her for the better in most cases. Still, the audience knows she will use the buttons in some way and the book lets the tension build up as she does.
The ending leaves many unanswered questions as is typical for King. It even sketches out at least one possible sequel path, yet except for the Dark Tower series King does not do sequels, so that puzzles me a bit.
As a short and fun read, this for the most part delivers quite well.
Rating – four baby booties out of five