Literature / Duma Key

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In this novel by Stephen King, a retired building company owner, Edgar Freemantle, gives an account of a chain of events that formed the strangest year in his life. Freemantle tells the story of events that took place four years ago on the little Floridan island, Duma Key. The prelude to this, happening some months before, occurs when Edgar is almost crushed to death in an accident with a crane. During the process, he loses his right arm, damages his hip, and suffers from loss of vocabulary and memory, and becomes prone to intense and violent fits of anger, especially when his injuries are causing him trouble.

After the accident, Edgar's wife, Pam, leaves him after he hurts her during his mood swings, and the depressed Edgar is playing with thoughts of suicide. His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, advises him to try and settle down somewhere new for a year and cultivate his old hobby of sketching.

After browsing brochures Edgar feels strangely drawn to the island Duma Key, and with the help of Jack Cantori, a local college student, he moves into a rented house named Salmon Point (which Edgar nicknames "Big Pink"). As part of his healing process, Edgar starts drawing pencil-sketches and taking walks on the island, during which he meets and befriends Jerome Wireman, a former lawyer and the caretaker and hired companion of Elizabeth Eastlake, the old woman who owns all the houses on Duma Key and suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

As his painting progresses, Edgar starts feeling weird itchy sensations in his missing arm, and discovers that this is giving him the ability to make some really good, but also very spooky paintings, some of which appear to be windows into the past, while others can outright warp reality and initiate life. But is it really Edgar himself who is the mind behind these paintings, or is it something else? Something sinister? And could it somehow be related to the rumors about the terrible things that happened on Duma Key in the 1920s? And just who is the feminine figure in the red cloak who appears on Edgar's paintings?


This novel contains examples of

  • Afterlife Express: Soul Ship
  • The Alcoholic: Local art critic Mary Ire likes her whiskey.
  • Amicable Exes: Up to a point, at least.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Edgar loses his right arm in the accident.
  • Arc Words: "La Lotteria"; "I can do this"; "I win, you win."
  • As Long as There is Evil: Perse can not be killed, only weakened for a period, but Edgar is making damn sure that it will take her a while to return.
  • Axe-Crazy: Perse.
  • Big Bad: Perse.
  • Bogeyman: Charley. Also, the Big Boy. WIF TEEF!
  • Bungled Suicide: After his wife and his daughter died, Wireman shot himself in the head, but survived. The bullet remained lodged in his brain for a while after, giving Wireman some form of foresight (probably though the influence of Perse). One of Edgar's paintings removes the bullet.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The harpoon gun. The first time it's mentioned, it flies right by you.
  • Chekhov's Gift: The picture Edgar signed for Ilse. Or curse, as the case may be.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Jack's ventriloquism talents.
  • Chekov's Legend: Miss Eastlake's own art talents.
  • Creepy Child: Elizabeth is implied to have been one.
  • Creepy Doll: Reba and her "sisters". Perse's physical manifestation also counts.
  • Daddy's Girl: Ilse
  • Dark Secret: Of the Eastlake family, and you know, Perse, too.
  • Don't Go in the Woods
  • Eldritch Abomination: Perse. Oh man, Perse.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier In Spanish
  • Evil Hand: It is more of a Supernatural Hand, but when you think about who is tapping into its powers from the shadows.
  • Foreshadowing: Elizabeth, via her Alzheimers, is channeling...something...and what seem to be senile comments often turn out to be quite useful.
    • "My father was a skindiver.", the picnic basket in the attic, and the china dolls in the choi pond are among the most obvious.
  • Hope Spot: Edgar thinks he has saved his daughter, Ilse, from Perse...until he sees the tennis-balls floating ashore on the beach.
  • Kill the Cutie: Ilse. Oh dear God, Ilse.
    • Judging by her last conversation with her father, also qualifies as Break the Cutie first.
  • Last Name Basis: Edgar calls Wireman on his last name.
  • Life Will Kill You: Wireman survives the encounter with Perse, only to die of a heart attack a few months later.
  • Mad Artist: Edgar is not one by nature. But he suddenly is one when Perse is manipulating him.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Emery, Adie, and the twins certainly count.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the middle of cheering on Edgar and Co. after defeating Perse, one must remember that it was Edgar's paintings that unleashed Perse in the first place.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Edgar and Wireman
  • Parental Favoritism: Ilse is Edgar's preferred child, and Elizabeth was sort of always vying for her father's love.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning
  • Silver Bullet: Oh, alright, it actually is Sliver Harpoon, but you get the point.
  • Socialite: Elizabeth, in her youth, as well as Mary Ire.
  • Spooky Painting
  • You Should Have Died Instead: After Ilse is murdered, Pam lets Edgar know that he should have died in the accident, which, to her at least, would have been a "Happy ending".

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