(By Richard Chizmar)
“But what if something she believes to be true… simply isn’t?”Gwendy’s Magic Feather
You may have noticed that I changed up my naming convention for this post. I did that to differentiate Gwendy’s Magic Feather because — as you probably know, if you care enough about King books and/or this series to be reading this post — this is not a King book. Not even one that he’s co-written with someone else. This was written by Richard Chizmar. Because of that, I don’t actually want to spend a ton of time on it, but it is a continuation of the previous Gwendy book, co-written by King and Chizmar, and comes between that and the next Gwendy book, also co-written by King and Chizmar. It just felt weird not to say something about the second book in a trilogy.
I actually have a non-King-related Chizmar book hanging around the house. I haven’t read it yet, being steeped in King’s work for the past year, but I’m interested. I don’t have much of a sense of him as a writer. The previous and next Gwendy books have a strong King voice, and while I think even a casual King reader could recognize a difference in style here, I will say that Chizmar’s King voice in this book is probably as close as it could be for someone who isn’t King or related to King.
You want to know the one big thing that would have clued me in that this isn’t King, even if I didn’t already know and had no context? Gwendy is now a congresswoman, and she keeps referring to “President Hamlin”. Except “President Hamlin” is an obvious Trump stand-in. King would have just written Trump. It’s not a big deal, or it shouldn’t be, but it actually bugged me every time it popped up.
Otherwise, it’s fine. Like the other Gwendy story, it’s kind of cozy. That sounds odd because this book, in addition to re-introducing us to the button box from the last installment, also contains a fairly gruesome murder mystery. But either the details weren’t detailed enough, or I’ve gotten desensitized too much — it was enough for me to be aware it was gruesome, but not so much that it stopped feeling like a cozy mystery. I don’t know, Gwendy just feels like that to me. Maybe she won’t in her next book, who knows. I don’t remember that one feeling this way, but I barely remembered this one at all, so we’ll see when I get there. Which should be fairly soon; I only have five books and a few short stories that have come out in the last few years, so aren’t collected yet, left on my list, and Gwendy’s Final Task is the fourth book. You won’t see this for a while — I think this one will come out in December — but I definitely think I’ll be done with this by the end of December — if I was really motivated, I could do it by the end of this month, but I probably won’t. With the exception of those short stories, I have already achieved my goal of reading every Stephen King book, though. Because I bought and read the ones from 2020 on as they came out, including Fairy Tale. So I’m really close, and I’ve hit one milestone.
And that paragraph should tell you a bit about Gwendy’s Magic Feather — I’m supposed to be talking about that, and I’ve veered off into King’s bibliography talk. It’s really fine. We get the button box again, and Gwendy does some good with it. We get the magic feather, which shouldn’t actually be magic, considering its origin (but is it magic anyway?). We get grownup Congresswoman Gwendy and a little bit of Richard Farris, who seems a lot like that other RF we know… but good? Can that be? We get the town of Castle Rock, which I always love visiting, and I think Chizmar gets credit for capturing it credibly if nothing else. We get a little murder mystery that ends… as well as it can, considering we were too late for some victims. It’s a fun read that you might not think about or remember for long once you put it down.