March 25, 2007


Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
Finished on 3/23/07
Rating: 4.5/5 Terrific!
Chunkster Challenge #3

Book Description

Once upon a time, in the haunted city of Derry (site of the classics It and Insomnia), four boys stood together and did a brave thing. Certainly a good thing, perhaps even a great thing. Something that changed them in ways they could never begin to understand.

Twenty-five years later, the boys are now men with separate lives and separate troubles. But the ties endure. Each hunting season the foursome reunite in the woods of Maine. This year, a stranger stumbles into their camp, disoriented, mumbling something about lights in the sky. His incoherent ravings prove to be disturbingly prescient. Before long, these men will be plunged into a horrifying struggle with a creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past -- and in the Dreamcatcher.

Stephen King's first full-length novel since Bag of Bones is, more than anything, a story of how men remember, and how they find their courage. Not since The Stand has King crafted a story of such astonishing range -- and never before has he contended so frankly with the heart of darkness.

It’s been many years since I ventured into Stephen King’s world of horror. I’m not sure why I let Dreamcatcher languish on a shelf; we own a non-remainder hardcover, so it’s been around our house for at least six years. Thanks to Bookfool’s Chunkster Challenge, I was finally inspired to read the novel.

YIKES!! I’d forgotten how scary King’s books are. This one had my heart racing and stomach churning, forcing me to set it aside for something a bit tamer in the late evening hours. There was absolutely no way I could read this in bed. Well, at least at first. Once I got past a certain part, I was able to relax a bit and read a little later into the night. (Although a 620-page hardcover is not the easiest thing to juggle while lying prone in bed – especially with a cat on one’s stomach!)

First thoughts: King is far superior to Dean Koontz. I think I always knew this, but Dreamcatcher is a solid confirmation. What a masterful storyteller. Not only did he maintain the pacing throughout the entire novel, but he created a believable horror story, in spite of its incredible details. That doesn’t really make sense, but King’s writing is such that it doesn’t require the reader to consciously suspend disbelief because it’s so convincing that the impossible becomes plausible. Clocks that run backwards, photographs that come to life, telepathic conversations… sure, why not? In King’s world, these are the norm.

Another thing I liked about Dreamcatcher is that it wasn’t gratuitously overpopulated with secondary characters. I suspect that’s a temptation when dealing with such a lengthy narrative, but it was nice to not have to constantly flip back and forth, trying to reacquaint myself with minor characters from earlier chapters.

Looking through my list (which I plan to post for my next Thursday Thirteen) of all the Stephen King books I’ve read, I realize my favorites are generally those of great length. Call me crazy, but I like to be drawn deep in to the terror-filled world King so deftly creates. Do I like haunted houses? No. Do I like roller coasters? Nope. Do I hide my eyes during scary movies? Yep. So why do I love to be spooked by King? Because he’s a fabulous writer; great sense of place (love that Derry), memorable characters (Pennywise and Randall made very brief appearances in Dreamcatcher), believable dialogue, and all the thrills and chills of an E-ticket ride.

Flipping back through the book, rereading the passages I marked with sticky flags, I do have one minor complaint. And it’s not really directed at the author, as I think it was part of the stylistic manner in which the story needed to be told. I simply had a tough time, early on, keeping track of the time sequence, which was anything but linear. I had to just let go mentally and take the strange flashbacks and dream sequences as they came. Trying to figure out who was where and how old they were in comparison to their friends was futile. Once I got a handle on this particular style, it really wasn’t any trouble.

I enjoyed this book so much that I’m tempted to ignore my toppling stacks and have a Stephen King marathon, beginning with The Stand (probably my #1 favorite), quickly followed by It and Bag of Bones. But, no. I have far too many new-to-me books I want to read. These will just have to wait until I have a little more time to devote to re-reading. As it was, this hefty novel took me about ten days to complete. Dreamcatcher is definitely a “keeper” and one I’ll read again. I highly recommended the book, but not to those with a weak stomach, for this one leans heavily toward the gross and disgusting side of horror.


  1. Les, you identify all the reasons I love Stephen King novels! The Stand is my all time favorite King book (and actually makes my list of the best books of all time). I'm a little surprised at myself that I haven't read Dreamcatcher yet! I loved It. My other favorite is the one he co-wrote: The Talisman (another lengthy book). His short stories are also nailbiters. If I wasn't already full up with challenges and group reads, I think I'd join you in a Stephen King marathon! Maybe next year :) BUT, I will put this one on my wish list.

  2. Anonymous2:16 PM

    The Shining is one of the scariest books I've ever read. It was so good!

  3. Anonymous4:18 PM

    I am SO glad you've reviewed this one, because I too have kept it sitting on the shelf for quite a long time, not really sure why I haven't picked it up yet.

    And you're absolutely right that King is superior to Koontz. I think Koontz is a fun entertaining read, but King has all the extras that make it truly brilliant.

    Have you read Lisey's Story yet? It was amaaaaaazing!!

  4. I, too, think you touched on why King is so great. He can take ordinary people, places, events that we all relate to and with very little tweeking make them scary. The time-line on this one is a little confusing, but I thought it was superb.

    I duddits!

  5. I'm such a HUGE Stephen King fan!! His books are just so...readable! The Stand is my personal favorite....followed by Salem's Lot and The Talisman! I really liked this book too!! I didn't think it translated too great on the big screen...but still wasn't bad!!

    If you decide to Stephen King Marathon with Wendy, I'm totally IN!! I could do for some rereads of the old classics!

  6. BTW....I TOTALLY bookmarking your Cooking blog!! The recipes look FANTASTIC!!

  7. Glad my foolish little challenge nudged you to read this. I loved the one King novel I read. Hopefully, someday I'll read more of his work.

  8. You're really tempting me!!! I have a few unread King goodies (and some of my favorites) languishing on my shelves.

  9. Wendy - The Stand is on my all-time favorite list, too. Definitely need to read it again, especially since we now have the uncut version. If you loved The Stand and It, I think you'll really like Dreamcatcher. I'm putting The Talisman on my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Stephanie - I agree. I had to read it on the beach in the middle of the day. Too scary to read it at home, even during the day. Eeek! REDRUM!

    Literalicious - Don't wait any longer. It's really very good. My husband and brother thought so, too, and I think they're tough critics when it comes to Stephen King. Nope, haven't read Lisey's Story yet. Thanks for the rec. I'll have to snag a copy one of these days.

    Kookiejar - Wasn't Duddits a great character?! He's one I'll always remember. Kind of like Owen Meany.

    Stephanie - I haven't read Salem's Lot or The Talisman, but I plan to now. Thanks! And thanks for the compliment on my food blog. It's been great fun. Of course, now I need to spend the next 8 months trying to lose the weight I gained last year so I can start in on comfort foods again next winter. :)

    Nancy - I really appreciate the nudge, with this book and the others I've read for your challenge. Hmmm, wonder what I'll pick for April...

    Andi - This one is sooooooo good! I hope you do get to read it sometime soon.

  10. I haven't read a Stephen King book in years but have been a fan ever since Carrie. And like you, The Stand is one of my all-time favorite reads. I think I have a copy of Dreamcatcher around here somewhere and keep buying his books as soon as they come out, remembering the magic they held for me years ago. Thanks for reminding me of that magic and of the fact that I am going to have to move some of those books off the bookshelf and onto the night stand to read sooner than later.

  11. I like his Dark Tower series books that begins with The Gunslinger. Have you read those? They aren't really typical King but they are very good.

  12. Maudeen - Carrie is one of the of the few early books of his I haven't read. I think I saw a snippet of the movie and was to scared to read the book. The Stand is my #1 favorite of King's and high on my life-time favorite's list. I hope you enjoy Dreamcatcher. I've just borrowed Lisey's Story today from the library.

    Katya - Thanks for stopping by. No, I haven't read any of the Darktower books. I intend to someday. :)


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