Newest Review: ... is not a lot of mythical, magical or supernatural content within it but it's still a good read. Rose Madder highlights the issue of ... more
One of King's best.
Rose Madder - Stephen King
Member Name: jeffjen
Rose Madder - Stephen King
Advantages: Page after page of suspense. A great read.
Having read a number of Stephen King novels over the years, Rose Madder is one of my favourites, despite it being unlike many of his other novels.
In Rose Madder, Stephen King has created another horrific character in the form of police detective Norman Daniels, who to the outside world is a respectable man, but to Rose, his wife of 14 years, he is a terrifying bully who has made her life a living hell and certainly nothing like she expected when she married him after being high-school sweethearts. Losing her unborn baby due to yet another beating from Norman and suffering a broken rib are just some of the horrific examples of the abuse he has dished out to her, but finally she flees her life of abuse, taking her husband's cash card and travelling hundreds of miles to a shelter where she builds a new life for herself and slowly comes to terms with her new independence.
Unfortunately, her nightmare isn't over just yet, as her husband Norman isn't willing to let Rose disappear from his life and so begins to search for her. After all, he is a police detective and searching for people is part of his job.
Out shopping one day whilst rebuilding her life, Rose becomes drawn to an oil painting and buys it. After purchasing the painting, she later discovers that she can step into the painting and become a new person, Rose Madder.
It is at this point that the book, which starts out as a traditional thriller, begins to show the fantasy and horror element that King has became an expert at introducing over the years. The prose flows well however and the reality and the fantasy blend together perfectly. It does make for intriguing reading despite my initial reservations after the first few pages that I would prefer Rose Madder to be a straightforward thriller.
Another reason to praise this book is the way in which the suspense just builds and builds and I found it difficult to put the book down. It quickly becomes apparent that Norman Daniels will stop at nothing to possess his wife again and is livid at her 'defiance'. Reading this book you just know that a confrontation is going to happen at some point and King builds up the tension page after page.
I was reminded a little of the book and film, 'Sleeping With The Enemy' whilst reading this book as the storyline and tension are very similar in parts, as a wife who finally snaps and realises she must escape her abusive husband flees her old life and begins a new one, hoping to be rid of her abusive past for good. However, the abandoned husbands have other ideas.
The difference here is of course the fantasy element to King's writing and where as Sleeping With The Enemy keeps its feet firmly rooted on the thriller path, Rose Madder is a thriller, horror and a fantasy novel all rolled into one with even a dash of romance for good measure!
King develops a scary psychotic character in Norman Daniels and the fact that meek Rose ends up having a few surprises in store herself may seem a somewhat predictable twist, however, I found this book a riveting read and as a Stephen King fan, I found this a diversion from the majority of his work, but a welcome one all the same and Rose Madder is one of the best things he has written in my opinion. Norman is a very effective character whom the reader will loathe right away. Indeed King doesn't waste anytime developing this menacing evil man and I can guarantee you will be wanting to see him get his comeuppance immediately after being introduced to him.
At the start of the book I quickly found sympathy for the weak character of Rose and yes you will find yourself asking why does she put up with the beatings and abuse from Norman for so long? Why doesn't she leave earlier than she does? However the reality is that it isn't all that simple. Ask anyone who has been in an abusive relationship why they didn't leave or why it took so long to leave and you will find the reality is it isn't always as simple as those who have never suffered at the hands of an abusive partner would maybe think it is.
As Rose finally makes her escape and finds the help and support she desperately needs, things begin to look up but King lets us know that danger is never too far away and although I found myself hoping her husband would not catch up with her, I also realised that if he didn't, then there would be no story. And you should beware that the story is at times quite horrific and brutally described. This is Stephen King after all and Rose Madder isn't just a 'good triumps over evil' story.
Rose Madder is both a thriller and a horror cleverly fused together to make a compelling story which is quite unlike the other Stephen King novels I have read. I think that even those who are not fans of Stephen King's horror novels but enjoy a good thriller would find they enjoy this book. I highly recommend Rose Madder.
Summary: A digression for Stephen King, but one of the best novels he has written.