Duma Key by Stephen King: Book Review


Rating: ★★★★★

5: HOLY COW! Give me more, more, more!

  • I love these characters.
  • Read the book super quickly (about 20 days)
  • I was pulled in and connected with a realistic feel of the story.
  • Aloud responses to this story included: laughing, goose bumps, looking over my shoulder continuously, and rapid increase of heart-beat


Edgar Fremantle has a terrible accident which almost leads to his death but instead leaves him jobless, wifeless, armless, and spiritless. His therapist encourages him to have an adventure, to move to a beautiful island and find what makes him happy. Edgar decides art is something he will pick up again, but once on the island, he begins to experience some paranormal occurrences, events he can seemingly control and others, not so much. After meeting Wireman and Elizabeth, his neighbors, he begins to believe he isn’t the only one experiencing the strange occurrences. He slowly begins to learn of Duma Key’s dark past, involving the salt water, his disturbing art, and Elizabeth herself.


  • Pacing was a bit slow…yet, that’s classic King when it comes to suspense. I am just super impatient. He really draws the story out. I understand he is trying to build up to the scary bits and the grand huzzah, but at some points he writes a bit over my head. Nothing against King, it’s that I just don’t get some references. I am too young.
  • I would have enjoyed more details instead on Edgar’s family such as his daughters, his relationship with Pam before the accident, etc. I feel as if this would have made me have more connection with the characters; however, I am far from the great King, so who am I to question which details he added and which he did not, right?

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  • Random encounters with dead people had me jumping out of my seat and quickly closing the book…because I was gettings spoked. After those little encounters, I would make sure my doors were locked!! LOL. If you like to get spooked like that, then this is the book for you in that regard! Classic King.
  • The end of this book had me so scared, I was looking over my shoulder IN MY OWN HOUSE about to pee myself.

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  • Relevancy to my own life and to anyone’s life was what made me really enjoy this book. First, it shows us just how precious our lives our and how we should never take anything for granted not even for a day. It also struck me about the whole idea of happiness.

“He suggested I take it up again, and when I asked why, he said because I needed hedges against the night. I didn’t understand what he meant then, because I was lost and confused and in pain. I understand it better now. People say night falls, but here it rises. It rises out of the Gulf, after sunset’s done. Seeing that happen amazed me.”

  • Then, when life does get hard, it has a powerful message of what to do when you feel like you just want to give up.

“If I kept saying it; if I kept reaching out. My accident really taught me just one thing: the only way to go on is to go on. To say ‘I can do this’ even when you know you can’t.”

  • Just one other life lesson (that I will mentions, there are a lot more) is when King’s characters emphasize the importance of memories. Since many of the characters are in their later halves of life, this story touches on the importance of cherishing the times we had with those we love.

“A person’s memory is everything, really. Memory is identity. It’s you.”

  • Too many good quotes to write here, but some of my favorites are at the end of this review. Scroll all the way down to find them!

Genre: Horror/Paranormal/Mystery/Suspense

So this book falls into the genre fictional horror first with some supernatural/paranormal activity, thrill, mystery, and of course, suspense. I wouldn’t have thought to write a horror novel with the setting on a beautiful island in Florida. That was what stood out to me was seeing the cover and thinking, okay, is this book in the wrong section? This is supposed to Stephen King, the horror section? I was intrigued that I never heard much about it from the King fans on my instagram either. I think King for sure has majorly contributed to the genre of horror with this one, including beautiful sunsets, pink beach houses, and beautiful sea shells AND THEN making them still scary as hell? I would have thought of all those things being scary, but he always pulls through, King, he does always pull through for me.

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Theme: Memories are living.

The entire theme which weaves itself through the book is this idea that memories are alive and well and define who we are greatly. The characters are all struggling with their past memories and how that defines their current existence today. Each character seems to have split moments in time which literally changed their entire life and its course. In a way, it would be questioned whether or not the island is a breeding ground for paranormal activity or are all the characters merely losing their minds on this tiny little piece of land in the middle of nowhere? Who knows…

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Style: Well-balanced.

I feel as if Stephen King does not use as much of his long, flowing sentences as he does in other books I have read so far like It for a popular example. This book is an easier, quicker read than most of his books even though the length is 600 pages. The chapters are broken up into shorter sections which make stopping easy because you don’t have to worry about picking back up in the middle of a confusing place. Stephen King does a nice job of doing this in a lot of his books I have read so far again like It, as an example. There is a good balance of dialogue and narrative. The horror, for the majority of the novel, is sprinkled throughout in a way as if to get you when you least expect it! The end is just flat out scary… but that is expected from Stephen King.

Format: The cover is what grabbed my attention.

A pretty beach and sunset for a horror book by Stephen King? What?? The cover and overall plot, setting of the book is genius, in my opinion. Overall, there was a good balance in terms of dialogue and narrative. There are some gaps where there is little dialogue and mostly narrative. The books begins as mostly narrative and as more characters are established, the dialogue becomes much more rich, especially after we meet Wireman himself.

Details or Gaps?: This book, as most King novels are, is filled with details about all the characters.

As the readers, the gaps are there for a reason and are slowly filled in as the novel unfolds itself from Wireman, Edgar and his family, to Elizabeth’s gruesome past. King waited until the last 50 pages to really reel you into the mystery of the island of Duma Key. The story begins with Edgar’s physical accident, his divorce, and becomes fleshed out with the happenings on Duma Key for the following months, ending with sad deaths and horrific terror. I love the relationship between the main character Edgar, Wireman and Jack. I love how they are the ones who ultimately go on the journey together; however, Edgar is the one who does most of the butt kicking of Perse. I love the bond of the three special friends, and it was fun going on the mystery adventure with them. So the only thing I was left truly wondering was if Pam every spoke to Edgar again? What do you think, Constant Readers?

Literary Devices: Nicely done, King.

The setting flabbergasted me for some reason. I just didn’t think of beautiful sunsets as a potential horror story. King got me there. The plot is a bit slow, but we are slowly dragged in the sand across the shells until the very end. The characters are strong, real, and have interesting interactions between one another. I loved the constant reminder of the sea shells scraping together under the house at night, it tied the setting and creepy tone of the book together quite nicely.

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Uniqueness Scale: Big time 5 of the uniqueness scale.

I mean, again, I wouldn’t have thought to make sea shells, pretty sunsets, and works of art into horror…that was pretty new and cool in my opinion.

5 – Never heard of and leaves you flabbergasted!

Recommend?: Yes, of course, I recommend this book.

I would recommend any Stephen King book because he is just the master of horror! However, I would only recommend this book to someone who has already enjoys a little paranormal activity, horror, thriller, suspense, or has already read some Stephen King before. Why? It isn’t the best book by him and if you don’t know his pattern, you may be thrown off by the long wait time. Also, if you don’t like horror, this won’t be your cup of tea and you will be terrified in certain parts of the book because it comes out of NOWHERE. That’s just your classic King, but that’s just how I like it.

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More of my favorite quotes:

“…muchacho…muchacho….muchacho…” – Wireman

“‘Art is a memory, Edgar.’” – Elizabeth

“‘Were those his exact words?’ She smiled brilliantly. ‘He’s a Baptist, Daddy, I’m interpreting.’” – Ilse

“where our sister.” – The twins

“That was all right; it is, for the most part, a pitiless world.” – Edgar

“‘Yahh, you ugly ******!’ Jack screamed. ‘**** ya mutha! **** ya GRANDmutha!’”

“As Wireman says, we fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.” – Edgar

“‘Do the day, Edgar!’ [Wireman] … ‘And let the day do you!’ I called back.”


Where Can You Read It?

I just got mine at Half Price Books. I don’t think I’ve seen it at many libraries, but you can purchase it at Barnes and Nobel too.



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