Stephen King – Later

My name is Jamie Conklin, and once upon a time I drew a Thanksgiving turkey that I thought was the absolute cat’s ass. Later—and not much later—I found out it was more like the stuff that comes out of the cat’s ass. Sometimes the truth really sucks.

I think this is a horror story. Check it out.

Gotta love a Stephen King story told by a young kid who has the “shine”. It was Danny in The Shining and Doctor Sleep and Jack in The Talisman and The Black House and Bev Marsh and the gang in IT . This book has been compared though with Joyland and The Colorado Kid due to the novella format and the short crime story within.

I loved it! It got me hooked after the first few chapters and I knew I had to finish it as soon as possible.

The Story

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King s classic novel It, LATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

Jamie Conklin can see dead people. And if that sounds a familiar concept it’s one the narrator himself points out in the first couple of pages ‘not like the Bruce Willis movie’. Of course, it IS to a degree, but with King’s take on it and taken to a (by his standards very short) novel length tale. Jamie cannot tell apart the dead from the living, they are not see through like the movies, but sometimes, because they wear the same things as when they died, it makes them easier to tell apart.

Jamie’s mother knows her child is “special” a little bit – first by him pointing at a bike accident’s victim and describing his facial features and t-shirt even though the victim on the ground had been covered by a coat. Second, by correctly identifying where the next door’s neighbour’s wife had placed her valuable rings before she succumbed to a stroke which “drowned her thoughts in blood”.

The mother is a believer but she urges Jamie to keep his talent hidden, as you never know who might take advantage of this. Her being the first and foremost user – when her source of revenue dies.

Not in the circus type – but she does use her child’s powers to get her most productive client to tell the last epic tale in his series AFTER he had died so that her cut of the advance on the book would not have to be returned. It’s done out of desperation and out of fear of not being made homeless along with her kid.

Jamie obliges and acts as a “voice” for the dead author, who happily obliges and tells his last story post-mortem. Is this intellectual theft? I would say profiteering off the dead. The mother then spends the next four months editing and writing a long novel to act like her author’s last book and publishes it under his name, the only concession to her talent and hard work made in the book’s dedicated to section.

You would say things are smooth sailing from now, no? But then it wouldn’t be a Stephen King book. I loved that his mom has a female lover, that the female lover is a corrupt cop and that this woman is the one that uses the kid’s talent’s too in order not to get kicked out of the force and then later on to find Oxy pills and drugs for her addiction.

The kid is stuck with a malevolent spirit after the first encounter and his former next door neighbour teaches him something to be able to overcome his fear of his apparition – the ritual of Chud which might be familiar to long term Stephen King fans.

The kid binds this old entity to him and forces it to come to his bidding when called and even though he promises never to call upon it ever again, when faced with a revolver to his face and a crazed drugged woman at the other end, he finds himself asking for help from the old demon who comes and kills her and nearly takes Jamie along as well.

It’s a story of willpower and triumph of good vs evil and amazing to read.


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