Gwendy’s Button Box would have been a cool addition to a short story collection, but as a standalone novella, it doesn’t really have legs. It has the draw of being set in King’s Castle Rock – probably the town with the world’s fewest TripAdvisor recommendations – but for all that, doesn’t do much with the location. The story is focused on a young girl gifted a magical box. Each button represents a different continent, and to press them would be very, very bad indeed. But if Gwendy guards the box diligently, it has its own rewards.
I liked the concept (and had a few moments of, ‘how does he dream his ideas up?’), but it’s really just too short to be fully satisfactory. King has done some great things working with few pages (I’m thinking particularly of Joyland, but also to a lesser extent The Colorado Kid. I doubt this will prove as memorable as either. If I sound pretty down on it, I really didn’t hate it. It was great fun to spend a few hours with a new idea – but sadly it felt like just enough to whet my appetite before the main course was served.
[Read on 27 June 2017]