Book review: From a Buick 8

From a Buick 8From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think Stephen King may write faster than I can read. From a Buick 8 is another of his novels that I did not read upon release and have gone back to years later, in the hope that I can eventually catch up to his output.

I’m undecided on the outcome of that.

From a Buick 8 is old school King as far as that goes–it’s classic horror, with a scary unknown thing at the heart of the story, and ordinary people pushed into extraordinary circumstances–but it’s well-crafted old school King.

As with Christine, a classic car is at the center of the shenanigans, this time a Buick Roadmaster abandoned at a gas station by a driver who disappears shortly after arriving. Unlike Christine, this particular vehicle is not haunted, it’s possibly from another dimension. The story focuses on Troop D of the Pennsylvania State Police, who impound the car and keep it in a shed out back of their barracks. Weird things happen in that shed, ranging from strangely diving temperatures to funky purple light shows and the appearance of things that live, briefly.

King starts the story in 1979 and flips back and forth between then and the present (2002, when the book was published), juggling the time periods effortlessly, shifting between first and third person as he does so. Hanging the story’s heart on the bereaved son of one of the officers killed in the line of duty provides the emotional core and King makes it pay out…then things get even more funky and weird when you think everything is about wrapped up.

While From a Buick 8 is not a deep or profound story, it’s a smooth, effortless ride (sorry) that expertly plays off the innate creepiness of so many toothy-grilled cars from the 1950s. Recommended for King fans and for anyone who enjoys an uncomplicated horror story.

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