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Book Reviews
By Kelly James

TITLE:The Conqueror Worms
Author: Brian Keene


Since I discovered the wonderful work of Brian Keene last year, I’ve been on a Keene reading frenzy. I started with his DEAD SEA, which is frankly, the best zombie novel I’ve ever read. Over the past few months I’ve read Keene’s CITY OF THE DEAD, THE RISING, TERMINAL, and DARK HOLLOW and to be honest, none of those compared with DEAD SEA, in my opinion. But then I read THE CONQUEROR WORMS…

Holy smoke. This is, by far, my favorite of Keene’s novels.

The story is set in rural West Virginia. Rain has fallen constantly for forty days and the world is flooded as far as Teddy Garnett knows. Teddy remains safe upon his mountain top home as the rest of the world washes away.

However, the spiritual WWII veteran isn’t alone after all. His best friend, Carl shows up after his house suddenly sunk into the mountain.

Together, Teddy and Carl embark on a mission to check on the rest of the mountain’s residents. They discover missing cattle, missing hunting cabins, and several mysterious holes in the ground. However, one other mountain resident remained, Earl Harper, is a local nutcase and all around bad guy.

A helicopter crash lands—shot down by Earl’s hunting rifle—the same day the worms reveal themselves. Earthworms from the size of dogs to school buses descend on Teddy, Carl, and the helicopter’s survivors.

THE CONQUEROR WORMS is written in first person and part two shifts to the first person point of view of Kevin (a survivor of the chopper crash from Baltimore). Kevin tells the story of something else monstrous lurking beneath the floodwaters. It is called Cthulhu by one character—of Lovecraft fame—and Leviathan by another. We never learn the monsters’ true origins, but Keene hints that both the squid monster and the abomination at the novel’s climax are biblically related.

THE CONQUEROR WORMS is one of my personal top ten favorite novels. I recommend it to anyone with a love of Lovecraftian style horror or anyone looking for a fun read.

copy2006 Dorchester Publishing Co

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TITLE:DUMA KEY
Author: Stephen King


DUMA KEY was, for me, a return of the master. I’ve been a HUGE King fan since I was 13 (that translates into 22 years) and I’ve read everything the man has published. However, over the last decade King’s work seemed different for a lot of us fans.

DUMA Key is, in my opinion, the best King book in the last 8-10 years. The story centers around Edgar Freemantle, a self made construction millionaire (a character I can relate to, except the millionaire part). Freemantle is involved in a tragic accident that robs him of his right arm, cracks his skull, and crushes his hip.

While recovering, Freemantle struggles with simple memories and words—often substituting incorrect words when he’s angry. He becomes prone to uncontrollable bouts of anger—once trying to stab his wife with a plastic knife.

Freemantle’s wife tells him she wants a divorce and rather than suffering through a long legal battle, he settles the estate with her privately.

Edgar moves to Duma Key, Florida. Duma Key is a sparsely populated vacation island with a shrouded past. Edgar meets and befriends Jerome Wireman who happens to be the personal caretaker of Duma Key’s owner, Ms. Elizabeth Eastlake.

Edgar decides to try his hand at painting. He is shocked to discover he is a prodigy with the brush. However, strange things begin to happen the more Edgar develops his artistic abilities. Chief among these seemingly supernatural events is the ghostly appearance of his lost arm when he paints. Occasionally, Edgar experiences blackouts, and when he awakes, he finds a new portrait. Only the mysterious portraits aren’t what they seem.

As the novel advances at a pleasant pace, we learn about Duma Key’s history. How Elizabeth’s father settled the paradise island only to find tragic heartbreak when his twin daughters turn up lost.

Elizabeth gives Edgar a cryptic warning that Duma Key is no place for daughters. The message worries Edgar—he has two daughters of his own—and the youngest had just finished her first visit.

And then, Perse’ begins to appear in Edgar’s paintings. The horror Edgar endures as he slowly uncovers Perse’s mystery is some of King’s best work.

As is the norm with King, his characters are the richest, most lifelike ever put to page. Though DUMA KEY is over six hundred pages, it reads like a novel half that size.

DUMA KEY is a must read.

©2008 Scribner


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