Back in 2017, Stephen King teamed up with author Richard Chizmar to tell us a tale that takes place in Castle Rock. Stephen King has been known to team up before with author Peter Straub and his sons Owen King and Joe Hill, so it wasn’t a surprise when the co-written Gwendy’s Button Box was announced. The announcement for Gwendy’s Magic Feather, on the other hand, was quite surprising, as this is the first time a story that takes place in the universe King crafted has not been written by the man himself. Instead, Richard Chizmar is given the reigns on Gwendy’s continuing adventure. A foreward from Stephen King has been included to provide history on the pair up and how Chizmar has taken over.
In my review for Gwendy’s Button Box, I mentioned that some people might be disappointed that Castle Rock was merely there as a place and not a character like in most other Castle Rock stories. If that was something that bothered you, you’ll be happy to hear that the town of Castle Rock plays a prominent role in the new book. Taking place several years after Button Box, Gwendy is now a successful political figure working with an unhinged President who invokes flashbacks of Greg Stillson from Dead Zone, another novel that takes place in Castle Rock. Her husband is a photographer who is currently off on assignment in a dangerous country, and her mother is recovering from chemotherapy. It’s during these stressful times that the button box makes a surprise return, putting Gwendy on edge. Why has the box shown up now? She doesn’t have much time to contemplate the question, as it’s Christmas time and she is headed home to Castle Rock to visit family, and to help out in a missing girls case.
Richard Chizmar has taken the narrative of Gwendy and placed her back home in a situation that readers of King will be happy about. He references the older stories and characters from past books, but they never feel hamfisted or thrown in for no reason. What’s most interesting about Gwendy’s Magic Feather is that the button box, which played such a large role in the first story, is downplayed in this tale. It’s still an important item, but it’s Gwendy who is most important. Her character arc is heading towards a future that I hope results in plenty more stories. As for Gwendy’s friend Richard Farris, he isn’t in the story much, but when he does show up, Chizmar makes it even more evident that he very well could be The Man in Black.
My only complaint is the same one I expressed with Gwendy’s Button Box, and that’s the fact the book is too short. The chapters are small and you can easily finish the novel in a couple of sittings. Heck, you might even finish it in one sitting as the story grips you from the start. Either the next novel – if there is one – needs to be longer or they need to put them out quicker.
Stephen King might not be the one telling the tale this time around, but the heart and soul of his characters and locations are still very much there on paper. Richard Chizmar is given the chance to spin his own story with Gwendy’s Magic Feather using his unique style and the results are fantastic. Like Gwendy returning home, we the Constant Reader are also returning to Castle Rock and home has never felt better.
Trade Hardcover Edition: • Printed on 60# acid-free paper
• Bound in cloth with colored head and tail bands
• Featuring hot foil stamping on the front boards and spine
• Wrapped in a full-color dust jacket
• World’s 1st Printing, 1st Edition!
• Retail price just $25