“I wanted to have one more book that was big, that felt like I was running the tables in terms of sales. I wanted to knock Tom Clancy out of the No. 1 spot. Like Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m king of the world, even if it’s only for two weeks, whatever. I wanted those things.”-SK on B.O.B
Book Store Totals
Released on September 22, 1998 by Scribner
First book published by Scribner
1998 Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award Winner for Novel
1999 British Fantasy Society Award Winner for Best Novel
1999 Locus Award Winner for Dark Fantasy/Horror Novel
This book is a great read. Plain and simple. This was King’s first book with Scribner and what a novel to lead-off with. This book has everything: Love, loss, redemption, a ghost story and a murder mystery all in one book.
Bag of Bones is more than just a ghost story or a haunted house story. It’s a story of loss, coping, self-examination, and hoping for a brighter future. You literally go through the range of emotions with Mike as you read the book, most importantly, his thoughts on what was and what is going on in his life.
When I first read this book I was young. I was 19 a few months before I turned 20. I didn’t know anything about a mid-life crisis and certainly didn’t know about losing a spouse. And when I read the book for the first time back then, I didn’t get it because of my age and life inexperience.
As most of King’s work, especially after I have gotten older and more mature in life (at 35), I’m connecting with Stephen King’s work on a higher level. And Bag of Bones is one of those books that I emotionally connected with. Not only did I connect with Mike, but sympathized with him as well. No cardboard cutouts in this novel. Most characters were the real deal.
Stephen King to me puts on a writing clinic fusing a great story with a full reaching arc that never tires. His use of ghosts, love gained and love lost and a murder mystery of long ago make this book a don’t miss.
So…Why does Bag of Bones work?
- Bag of Bones works because Mike Noonan is such a likable character. His life has been shattered by his wife’s death which has affected not only his mental and physical state, but his career as well. You just root for this poor guy as he tries to put his life back together. And you really hope that Mike is going to end up happy again. Mike is one of the good guys in King’s work with no flaws that make him unsympathetic. One of my favorite main characters.
- Bag of Bones works because it’s a great ghost story. That gets lost in this book I think because of the stuff going on with Mattie and her estranged father-in-law, the evil and decrepit Max Devore. When the story turns back to the actual haunting and why it’s going on in Sara Laughs, Mike uncovers why exactly the place is haunted and who it is doing the haunting.
- Bag of Bones works because of the authentic relationship that Mike forges with Mattie and Kyra. This relationship comes across on the pages as real even though Mike tries to not think of Mattie in the ways he thinks about her. He has a boyish crush on her but reminds himself of the age difference. I think the dynamic between Mike and Mattie was truly authentic as King intended it to be. Also, I think that Mike saw himself as a father to Kyra because of the connection that they had. All of that felt real to me and came alive on the pages.
- Bag of Bones works because at its core it’s a love story of sorts. Mike loved his wife profoundly. And for several years he couldn’t get over her untimely death. I don’t really think he ever got over Jo’s death at all. It was really a cool idea to have Jo’s ghost being at Sara Laughs with Mike helping him solve the mystery of Sara Tidwell’s death. It was good for Mike to have that connection with Jo even if it was from beyond the grave.
- Bag of Bones works because it plays into three different themes: A love story, a murder mystery and ghost story. It seems like a lot going on, but King managed to weave in and out of each theme seamlessly without confusing the reader. Not many writers can perform this kind of magic. But Stephen King has been doing it for years.
Bag of Bones rattled my bones at- 4/5 (Awesome)