Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Posted 13 January, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 20 Comments

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bag of bones

Title: Bag of Bones
Author/Narrator: Stephen King
Published: 1998; Pages: 752
Audio Duration: 21 hr, 21 min
Genre: Fiction/Thriller?
Rating: Good storytelling, but not a King favorite of mine

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

Bag of Bones In Short: A man grieving over the loss of his wife returns to their summer cottage and becomes entangled in a young single mother’s custody battle over her young daughter. Plus a whole lot of house haunting, mysterious lake drownings, and revenge of the dead. Sounds scary but I think the Google Images for “Bag of Bones” is more frightening than the book was.

Why I Read/Listened: Bag of Bones came fairly highly recommended after my recent Stephen King binges. I read for a readalong (#BOBalong) and listened in part because of Stephen King narrating and to make the length of the book less intimidating.

Thoughts in General: Is it weird that I write every other section of my book posts before coming back to the Thoughts in General? I feel like I need to write profound things since I “hosted” a readalong of Bag of Bones, but really I don’t have much to say.  Maybe I’ll just save y’all the reading/skimming.

Ok, Just Random Thoughts: (*some minor and vague spoilers in this paragraph*) I liked Mike Noonan, the narrator. I found his relationship with Mattie (the 21 year old widow with a 3 year old daughter) to be a bit creepy. Actually some of the internal monologues in the book were way creepy–confessions from a horny old man. I liked the premise of the book and sometimes the explanations/endings of King books fall flat to me but I liked how this one all fit together. However, I think that some of the revelations could have come earlier and then been used for scare factor throughout the book. Perhaps too much was spent on Mike Noonan as a best-selling author (or at least top 15). Max Devore was an ass! And Rogette was creepy. I loved the tie-ins with Rebecca and it made me want to re-read the book. By the time I finally finished the book, I wish that I could read it again knowing what I knew by the time I finished. Again, I think that King could have done a tighter job with the storylines and mystery. Way way way too much beginning and not enough middle and end. (/end spoilers)

Bottom Line: Is it bad to be disappointed when a book doesn’t scare the wits out of you? Even when you don’t necessarily enjoy being scared? I enjoyed King’s storytelling, as always, and loved the characters he created and the general air of creepiness. Overall, though, I wasn’t blown away like I expected to be.  I’m glad I read Bag of Bones but it won’t be a favorite (though 11/22/63 and IT are certainly hard to beat!).

Notes on the Audio: Stephen King as narrator. It took me a while to get used to his voice–his is not quite as deep a voice as I’m used to my King books being narrated with and I did bump up the speed to 1.25x (typical for me with audio). But I was very impressed with his narration abilities and even got some delight over the occasional singing throughout the book. There is musical interludes in the audio, especially in the beginning, and I found them distracting. I did enjoy the actual singing musical interludes, though–by whoever sang for Sara Tidwell.

Anyway, thanks for those who participated in the BOBalong. In the future, I think I’ll write off December as a good readalong month. Ha!

So, Jill has asked me to rank the King books I’ve read. I think I need to read a few more before I can accurately do a ranking, but I’d love to know what’s at the top of your King list.

And really–if you haven’t read any King yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!


20 Responses to “Bag of Bones by Stephen King”

  1. Kay

    At the top of my King list – The Stand – forever and always. The first King book I ever read was Salem’s Lot. I was in college and my roommate was gone the weekend I read it. I kept hearing scratching at the windows. In case you don’t know, Salem’s Lot is about vampires and you have to invite them in. LOL

  2. I love Stephen King! I read Bag of Bones probably 16 years ago (whew I’m getting old) when I went home for Christmas from college one year. I remember it so vividly because it was the first book I’d ever listened to and it was all on tape lol. But I used to listen on my walkman when I’d go to bed =) Silly me ended up sleeping with the closet light on the whole holiday break! I got really scared by it. But I would have to say that my favorite King novel would be 11/22/63. I devoured that book. I also really liked Needful Things because it has a spooky sort of vibe to it. I love that kind! I recently enjoyed Joyland as well!

  3. You knew I’d be all over this. lol! Okay ranking SK: 1) Dark Tower series (because series get ranked together); 2) IT; 3) The Stand; 4) Talisman/Black House; 5) Rose Madder; 6) Insomnia; 7) The Shining/Doctor Sleep; 8) Under the Dome; 9) Bag of Bones; 10) 11/22/63. Honorable Mention: Misery. Or On Writing. And. Um. All the others. Heh.

    • Funny that your 10th pick is my 1st! 11/22/63 is so hard to beat in my mind. I almost wish I hadn’t started with The Stand. The Talisman is dead last for me (out of the ones I’ve read). Maybe I do better with his more realistic (ha!) books than the more fantastical ones? Ok, that sounds ridiculous but hopefully you know what I mean.

  4. Ti

    I wasn’t able to participate as planned but I do recall that the story did not scare me the first time I read it. Could be why I don’t remember the details all that well. I know BOB was written long ago but his newer stuff isn’t scary in the typical sense either. I hate to say it, but his addicted to pain meds self wrote scarier stuff.

    • This one was 98–I think RIGHT before he was in the accident. I haven’t read much of his older stuff (except The Stand and The Shining) but I feel like I need to go back and read some of the older classics. I believe JillyBean is planning a readalong of Pet Sematary?

  5. I love Bag of Bones but I totally get being disappointed by the non-scariness. I mean, to be honest the real people were scarier than the supernatural stuff and then the whole grief thing was scarier still, ya know? This is still one of my favourites, but I respect your ‘ehhhh’ness hehe.

    Are we doing this favourite king thing? It is my forever ever ever favourite (at this point, I’m not sure it’s going to be beaten! But I do have, like, 20 books to go…) but Bag of Bones is up there, Misery is amazing, I love Salem’s Lot… Basically there’s a lot of good good stuff, Trish. Also I want to read Stephen King all the time and whyyyy have I tied myself to Shakespeare like a FOOL?!

  6. I don’t think it’s strange to be disappointed that a book doesn’t scare the crap out of you. :-) Of course I am not a good benchmark for “normal.”

    My favorite King is still The Stand, closely followed by 1963.

  7. The Stand will always be my favorite. Too much history with that book and I for it not to be. OMG, I just had a truly depressing thought–I’ll bet I first read The Stand before you were even born. :P

  8. I’m sorry this turned out to be a bust for a read-along. I don’t even think I made it to the halfway point. And to think it was one of my favorites the first time I read it! The magnets on the refrigerator scared the crap out of me the first time, but seemed silly with this reading. Oh, well.

    I found an old post of my favorite SK books (posted almost 8 years ago!). You can find it here. The Stand remains my favorite.

  9. Oh man. This was the first SK I ever read. It was during a summer while I was in high school. I remember not being able to sleep, having nightmares, and avoiding refrigerator magnets. I think the older I get the more desensitized I am to the scary… Actually, I blame The Walking Dead.

  10. I wanted to join your RAL, but had too many things going on that month. Definitely next time! I haven’t read this book, but I watched the movie with Pierce Brosnan. The relationship with Mattie doesn’t look right on screen either.

  11. I’m waiting for my copy of Bag of Bones from the library (I was inspired to put it on hold when I read about your readalong). Stephen King narrates his book on writing, called – ahem – On Writing – and it worked pretty well for that book especially since the first half was memoir. Now I’m curious about the audio version of Bag of Bones! Although I think I would like to hear him narrate Danse Macabre. Okay, now I’m going to have to see if there’s even an audio version of Danse Macabre!