Let’s crank out a football cliche: ‘Rose Madder’ is a game of two halves.
The set up and first 200 pages of this novel are as good as anything in the King repertoire. As housewife Rosie McClendon walks out of her abusive marriage on the spur of the moment, you could not be more on her side, more engaged with her story.
You know, with horrible inevitability, that her violent, ‘bad cop’ husband is going to track her down – that’s not the problem. And you’re also pretty sure the mysterious figure in the painting she finds a pawn shop is going to protect her when he does – that’s not the problem either.
The problem is that at the half way point of the novel, Rosie wakes up in the night and steps into that painting. And I just didn’t want her to do that!
Is it too soon? Does it break the tension? Yes, a little of both. What is for sure is that there is a massive drop in pace at that point. The whole ‘through the looking glass’ sequence seems tremendously laboured and a little hackneyed.
For me, the novel never quite recovers after that. Although the ending does deliver on some levels, I would love there to have been some clever twist, but none came.
There just isn’t quite the impact here one expects from Mr King. Come on Steve, sort it out!