The Thing in the Woods (The Tommyknockers – A Book Review)

The Tommyknockers

Author: Stephen King

Published: 1987

On Goodreads

My Rating: 

Rated M for mindreading aliens and magicians sending little brothers to a different planet.

Tommyknockers Tommyknockers knockin’ at the door…

Something strange is happening in the small town of Haven. It all began when Bobbi happened across some strange metal object. Now, as she digs it up, people are discovering strange powers and creating remarkable contraptions. But as Bobbie continues to dig it up, death and dread befall outsiders and those that resist the call from the strange object in the woods. It’s something dangerous and it’s taking over the people of Haven, stealing their minds and souls.

Look Ma! There’s a spaceship in our backyard! Yeah, that’s about how it started for me. LOL. Growing up, I watched the mini-series and now I’ve finally gotten to read the book. And, it took way too long. I started this at the end of the COVID pandemic shutdown and then didn’t have an opportunity or motivation to get back to it until recently. Glad I did. There was a lot more to the book than the mini-series even tried to let on and so much that was different. That was okay for me. The plot was never lost and the mini-series offered a lighter and less explicit take on the story, which was for the best. LOL.

Giphy

Bobbi and Gard have known each other for years. When he got a strong and desperate feeling that Bobbi needed his help, he went to go see her in her hometown, Haven. Turns out, she does need his help. She’s found some odd shape or instrument in the woods behind her house and she wants his help to dig it up. As they get to work, strange things start happening around town and to the townsfolk. The thing being unearthed in the woods is taking hold of the town and invading those in it both body and soul. As Gard struggled to save Bobbi, he also tried to save himself. His own dark past threatened to drag him under.

Aliens, it’s a sci-fi tale as old as time. These ones were a prime example of why you shouldn’t go digging up random thing in the woods. Just leave it buried. This isn’t the first time King’s had his characters dig up things they shouldn’t. It’s always interesting and nail-biting because while you’re curious about what the characters are about to uncover, you always know it’s nothing good. This time, it was a spaceship. King took an avenue that was very unique. Even dead, aliens could still invade. They lured in the people with their nifty contraptions and then that was it. Easy-grab humans. We are sadly always looking to upgrade something.

The book had so many layers. Done in three parts, each one delved not only into the main characters, Bobbie and Gard, but the townspeople like Ruth, Hilly, Becka, and Ev Hillman. Everybody had their own tales and/or fight against the things taking over. King spread out the POVS so evenly that it felt like I was taking a tour through Haven. It was so well done. And the transition between so many different characters was sectioned so abruptly but not in a jarring sense. More like, if you were watching this as a series and a commercial break came on. As straight as that sounds, it’s the best way to put it.

King is nothing if not humorous with his books. From killer Coke machine to a talking Jesus velvet painting. There may be a darkness lurking over this town and destroying the people, but damn if there aren’t moments that are absolutely hysterical. And, you’ve gotta have those. Just gotta. Maybe it’s a little morbid given the context of the jokes comes from moments people are being told to kill or in the process of getting killed, but I’m willing to live with that.

While the style and structure were great, getting through the book itself was a chore. I found myself finding this adventure to dig up a spaceship and find a missing little boy who was taken by the things in it, like the journey to find the great white whale. Daunting, but worth it.

Overall

I found this to be a good read, not a great one. Exploring the town of Haven was a unique and tragic experience. And, what a coincidence that it’s near Derry. King carved out his own niche in the alien department which was cool. This is one I think I‘ll keep on my shelves. It’s definitely worth a read. It should come with a warning about unexpected tentacles in unexpected places, however. LOL.

Quotables:

“Any man who get into a job and doesn’t plan a way to get ahead is either lazy or crazy.” (p. 287)

“…We always assumed the alien would have to at least be alive to invade. Not even H. G. Wells expected an invasion of ghosts.” (p. 506)

“One of life’s great truths is this: when one is about to be struck by a speeding six-hundred-pound Coke machine, one need worry about nothing else.” (p. 634)

More to come soon…                                                                                               

  -K.

Song Today? Premeditated by Blue Stahli.

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