Monday, December 24, 2018

Review: Elevation by Stephen King

Title: Elevation
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 132
ISBN: 9781473691520
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 30 October 2018
Genre: Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

Castle Rock is a small town, where word gets around quickly. That's why Scott Carey wants to confide only in his friend Doctor Bob Ellis about his strange condition: he's losing weight, without getting thinner, and the scales register the same when he is in his clothes or out of them, however heavy they are.

Scott also has new neighbours, who have opened a 'fine dining experience' in town, although it's an experience being shunned by the locals; Deidre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson don't exactly fit in with the community's expectations. And now Scott seems trapped in a feud with the couple over their dogs dropping their business on his lawn. Missy may be friendly, but Deidre is cold as ice.

As the town prepares for its annual Thanksgiving 12k run, Scott starts to understand the prejudices his neighbours face and he tries to help. Unlikely alliances form and the mystery of Scott's affliction brings out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others

Elevation, Stephen King's newest novella, is not a tale filled with monsters and horror. While the premise might be reminiscent of Thinner, there are no gypsy curses to be found here. Instead what you will find is an uplifting story centered around one man's otherworldly affliction and how his actions manage to challenge small-town bigotry and the prejudices that divide and isolate.

King excels at portraying small-town life. His characters spring to life from the very first page and you can't help but be invested in their welfare. Since this is a novella there is not a whole lot of world-building that takes place and to be honest, it's not really needed. Most Stephen King fans will be well acquainted with the setting of Castle Rock and newcomers will feel right at home.

Scott's mysterious affliction is never truly explained. While it sets everything in motion, it soon becomes a secondary matter. The main focus is the relationship between Scott and his lesbian neighbours, Deidre and her wife Missy, and how that relationship evolves. Scott becomes a bridge between the newcomers and the community, showing that a small act of compassion can have a far reaching impact.

The ending is touching in so many ways. It shows that all of us can leave this world a slightly better place, even if we don't all go out with a bang. The fact that there is no explanation given for Scott's illness makes its unresolved mystery all the sweeter.

The Verdict:
Elevation is a very enjoyable read. It carries a strong message about tolerance, about rising above ourselves and our beliefs, and leaves a heartwarming afterglow in its wake. If you are looking for horror then Elevation is definitely not for you. There are no monsters lurking in the drains, no frights and scares, just the hard reality of everyday life filled with intolerance and prejudice. When Stephen King feels it necessary to start writing uplifting stories you know the world is a dark place. And perhaps that should be scary enough for us all.

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

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