This may be a strange review to read, and you may find it to be contradictory almost with the score that sits at its end. It’s a five out of ten by the way, to save you skipping a few paragraphs down the page.
First off I want to say that there is so much right about this novel that on initial reflection, if I were awarding this book a score based on what it likely set out to do, I would give it a solid seven or possibly even an eight. It deals with themes of great and ancient evil, is set in an isolated mining community and there’s a genuine good versus evil vibe going on throughout, that is played out very well. Certain scenes and portions are very well written, but its ultimately the writing in this one that lets it down.
I genuinely found it to be inconsistent at times, much as I hate to say so (aye, myself the huge Stephen King fan) have to mention this in my review. I remember finding it a struggle at times to continue reading this book, something that I very rarely experience with a novel. Let’s just say the good parts are littered with equally just adequate parts – mostly down to the writing more than anything.
So anyway, onward ho. Desperation refers to the mining town in which the main characters of the book find themselves stranded, and subject to the horrific whims of local deputy Entragian, who it soon becomes clear has been subject to possession by an eternal evil spirit Tak, who has escaped from an old mine, unearthed by the local mining company in their recent digs.
He is a powerful entity, not just in the powers of strength he has over the bodies which he controls, but also in awesome controlling powers over the wildlife of the surrounding area. Think snakes, coyotes, scorpions – nothing more creepy than desert wildlife right? Those captured and set-upon must run for their lives, but whilst doing so are challenged to put an end to the evil that surrounds them.
Tak is a fantastic evil figure. Truly malevolent, his initial acts make you worry that the cast of the book might find themselves out of the picture sooner than the novels remaining hundreds of pages might suggest.
And I guess therein my issue with the book cropped up, possibly more attention was given in space on the pages than was really necessary to some of the ideas, characters and themes, and the book could have coped with being a couple of hundred pages shorter.
But I am no book editor – just a big fan of a good horror read – and I know Stephen King is among the best out there. I can’t count how many hours have been spent reading his works, and being truly appreciative of his writing gift. With Desperation, as much as I liked the setting and ideas that have been set up, I think there was something of a failing in truly realising their potential, and it made me struggle through the book. It was only by sheer will and persistence that I was able to finish it.
Desperation was written in synch with The Regulators. That book, set in a parallel universe, also features many characters featured in this one, under completely different circumstances for example. I had planned to read The Regulators, but found myself put off by Desperation. Maybe in the future I shall risk dropping the cash on a copy, and then will review and compare the book. Until then though, I have to sign off this review. You know the score.