In this novel by Creator/StephenKing, 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 painting}}s, some of which appear to be windows into the past, while others can outright [[RealityWarper warp reality]] and [[ArtInitiatesLife 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
* AfterlifeExpress: Soul Ship
* TheAlcoholic: Local art critic Mary Ire likes her whiskey.
* AmicableExes: Up to a point, at least.
* AnArmAndALeg: Edgar loses his right arm in the accident.
* ArcWords: "La Lotteria"; "I can do this"; "I win, you win."
* AsLongAsThereIsEvil: [[spoiler: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]].
* AxeCrazy: Perse.
* BigBad: Perse.
* [[ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Bogeyman]]: Charley. Also, [[spoiler: the Big Boy. WIF TEEF!]]
* BungledSuicide: 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.
* ChekhovsGun: The harpoon gun. The first time it's mentioned, it flies right by you.
* ChekhovsGift: The picture Edgar signed for Ilse. [[spoiler: Or curse, as the case may be.]]
* ChekhovsHobby: [[spoiler: Jack's ventriloquism talents.]]
* [[TheLegendOfChekhov Chekov's Legend]]: Miss Eastlake's own art talents.
* CreepyChild: Elizabeth is implied to have been one.
* CreepyDoll: Reba and her "sisters". [[spoiler: Perse's physical manifestation also counts]].
* DaddysGirl: Ilse
* DarkSecret: Of the Eastlake family, and you know, Perse, too.
* DontGoInTheWoods
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler:Perse. Oh man, Perse.]]
* [[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench Everything Sounds Sexier In Spanish]]
* EvilHand: It is more of a Supernatural Hand, [[spoiler:but when you think about who is tapping into its powers from the shadows]].
* TheFinalTemptation: After everything is done and [[spoiler: Perse has been mostly dealt with, she channels the last of her energy and creates a sand-Ilse in order to negotiate with Edgar: to release her and get his daughter back. [[WhatYouAreInTheDark He refuses.]]]]
* ForeShadowing: Elizabeth, via her Alzheimers, is channeling...something...and what seem to be senile comments often turn out to be quite useful.
** [[spoiler:"My father was a skindiver.", the picnic basket in the attic, and the china dolls in the choi pond are among the most obvious.]]
* HopeSpot: [[spoiler:Edgar thinks he has saved his daughter, Ilse, from Perse...until he sees the tennis-balls floating ashore on the beach]].
* KillTheCutie: [[spoiler:Ilse. Oh dear God, Ilse.]]
** [[spoiler: Judging by her last conversation with her father, also qualifies as BreakTheCutie first.]]
* LastNameBasis: Edgar calls Wireman on his last name.
* LifeWillKillYou: [[spoiler:Wireman]] survives the encounter with Perse, only to die of a heart attack a few months later.
* MadArtist: Edgar is not one by nature. [[spoiler:But he suddenly is one when Perse is manipulating him]].
* OurZombiesAreDifferent: [[spoiler: Emery, Adie, and the twins certainly count.]]
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In the middle of cheering on [[spoiler: Edgar and Co. after defeating Perse]], one must remember that [[spoiler: it was Edgar's paintings that unleashed Perse in the first place.]]
* NormallyIWouldBeDeadNow: Edgar and Wireman
* ParentalFavoritism: Ilse is Edgar's preferred child, and Elizabeth was sort of always vying for her father's love.
* RedSkyTakeWarning
* SealedEvilInACan: [[spoiler: Perse, quite literally by the end of it. The protagonists know she is gonna return eventually but make sure to make it as difficult as they can for her.]]
* SilverBullet: [[spoiler: Oh, alright, it actually is Sliver Harpoon, but you get the point]].
* {{Socialite}}: Elizabeth, in her youth, as well as Mary Ire.
* SpookyPainting: Several of them, by Edgar.
* UncannyValleyGirl: Perse is described as beautiful in her doll form, up until the moment one realizes she has a hidden third eye under the bangs. [[spoiler: Later in the seconds she attacks Edgar it is implied she also has an unnerving set of razor-teeth and claws.]]
* YouShouldHaveDiedInstead: After [[spoiler: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".