Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐥!
Today’s post, a review for my very first Stephen King book, The Sun Dog!
Let me first say that I’m NOT a horror fan in the slightest because I’m a mega chicken who jumps at her laundry hamper that strangely looks like a looming ghost in the dead of night. I’ve only recently started to get into horror and only because of Youtubers and their ghostly podcasts or gaming streams. I figured, it can’t be that bad. You can’t get a jump scare with words…can you?
Title: The Sun Dog
Author: Stephen King
Length: 193 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Novella, Horror, Fantasy > Paranormal, Fantasy > Supernatural
The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It’s coming for you.
Kevin Delavan wants only one thing for his fifteenth birthday: a Polaroid Sun 660. There’s something wrong with his gift, though. No matter where Kevin Delevan aims the camera, it produces a photograph of an enormous, vicious dog. In each successive picture, the menacing creature draws nearer to the flat surface of the Polaroid film as if it intends to break through. When old Pop Merrill, the town’s sharpest trader, gets wind of this phenomenon, he envisions a way to profit from it. But the Sun Dog, a beast that shouldn’t exist at all, turns out to be a very dangerous investment.
This is my first Stephen King book. His world and list of works is so immense that I didn’t know where to start, but this (and Insomnia) were my two latest Barnes and Nobles purchases and I figured, if I’m going to start, I might as well go through the smaller book first.
And gee, his writing style sure is lengthy. It’s at times unnecessarily extensive. The last time I felt this way was back in high school when my whole class was complaining about a book because the author had taken a million years to describe a single landscape; the story’s going nowhere at this rate. Here, the first time Kevin meets Pop Merrill had spanned too long for my taste. Then, there was the scene where Pop had gone to buy film at the local drug store, an exchange that should have been a page and half or two at best but lasted ten pages instead. There were moments where a character’s thoughts were several paragraphs or pages long and occasionally sprinkled with thoughts inside thoughts.
Other than being a tedious read at times, the writing and prose was really lovely. I first picked up on it when I read “divorced from circumstances” and thought, “That’s one pretty and fancy sentence there.” I liked it and though, in the end, it wasn’t the scariest of stories, there was always this ominous sense of dread and lingering doom hanging in the air. The good side of the excessive descriptions and thoughts was that there’s no shortage of fuel for imagination here. Pop walks into the drug store and you’ll see exactly what he sees, aisle by aisle, down to the hanging displays. The smoking breath of the demon dog, the far away voices, seeing the hallucinations from Pop’s eyes, all of it.
Excessive? Yes. Vivid? Oh yes.
Could be shortened? Yeah, I’d say so.
In terms of scary stories, I wasn’t particularly scared, but there were a few shivers. Looking back, with whom the camera targeted, I get a slight sense of relief [that it wasn’t me, because let me tell you, instant cameras were always on my wishlist up until now]. It’s scary, the way Goosebumps gave me goosebumps as a kid. I swear there was a haunted camera story then too. King did a fantastic job in making the reader see what needed to be seen, especially Pop’s hallucinations or the nightmares that plagued Kevin. It felt like, despite the safety of being behind the ink and pages, it was me holding that devil camera through Kevin or Pop.
The ending was a nice set-up and we leave on a scary note, but I was a little confused on why things happened and the ending only left me with more questions. However, given the paranormal circumstances, I guess there’s never a solid reason to who gets haunted and who doesn’t.
Final Verdict: It was a good scary book and did its job in making me creeped out. Heck, I left the book on the kitchen table rather than bring it back into my room the first few nights. As the inevitable impossible became reality, materializing before the characters’ very eyes, somehow, having a solid entity made the book many times less scary towards the end. I liked the concept of the story and was one of the reasons I picked it up in the first place, but the middle dragged and it REALLY dragged. If The Sun Dog was a painting, you’d see the fine details down to the very wisps of hair curling at the edges of a person’s face or the wrinkles on their face. It could be shorter, but if you needed a positive take-away from the excessive descriptions, at least you always got a vivid picture.