#Horror Review: Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box was one of those long-abandoned stories that Stephen King had never been able to finish, so he gave Richard Chizmar a crack at it, and they collaborated on the final product.

To be honest, I wish he'd just stuck with it and allowed his imagination to tackle it alone. While King's endings seem to be a source of disappointment for many readers, I have always loved how brutally dark they can be, with even victories that feel sad and sorrowful. Don't get me wrong, he's done a few silly ones (Under the Dome and Tommyknockers immediately come to mind), but for the most part I like his endings.

Not here. After a fantastic beginning involving Castle Rock, the Man in Black, and a mysterious box; followed by an equally exciting middle involving some very creepy explorations of power and responsibility; we get a soft ending that is all whimper and no bag. King and Chizmar completely side-step what should have been an epic climax. Not only that, but they offer up a weak closing that is entirely out of character for the Man in Black.

For a book that had so much promise early on, and which had me devouring pages at a frantic pace, I came away thoroughly disappointed.

Since I felt like there was a clear distinction in the text where King handed off the literary baton, with the whole style of the narrative changing, I do feel as if I got a fair taste of Chizmar's writing - and it's not bad. He's a solid writer who did a fantastic job of capturing the essence of Gwendy, and who contributed story elements that feel very much in keeping with King's style. I suspect he wasn't sure how to end it either, where to take such massive stakes without ending the world altogether, but certainly the two of them could have come up with something better than this.

Gwendy's Button Box certainly starts out as a vintage King story, hitting all the right buttons and getting the reader excited, and it plays very well with the mystery of that box, but it's timid refusal to confront a true ending undoes much of that potential.

Kindle Edition, 175 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Cemetery Dance Publications


  1. I've found Stephen King's later work to be more miss than hit but you can't argue with his writing ability and the classic horrors he introduced like It, Carrie and Salems Lot. I'm not a fan of poor endings so I doubt I'll read it but I enjoyed your review.


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