At long last, we put this collection to bed. How many books did I go through since I started this? Five? Six? I’ve lost count, but I’m certain it’s somewhere in that vicinity. It’s a ridiculous number, in any event, so I’m glad to finally get this one behind me.
It’s perhaps fitting that the major theme of this work is mortality. The crux of the story centers around an elderly woman who is dying of cancer. She lives on Goat Island, just off the coast of Maine and has never once crossed over to the mainland. It seems the island had other plans for her.
We’re given some flashbacks as she recalls key moments in her life. It makes sense for her to do that and its presence in the story is justified, yet I didn’t really feel myself get engaged with the work until we were past all of that.
She starts to see ghosts who beckon for her to come to the mainland. So, after over 90 years, she decides to take advantage of a cold front and cross the titular reach. Fortunately, the apparitions are not manifestations of a malevolent smoke monster, but the people who cared about her and wish to welcome her and sing her to her sleep. I guess they all needed to be reunited before they could cross over because they were so important to one another.
Yeah, yeah, we get it “Lost” references, can you move on?
OK, I’ll stop.
The story’s concept is quite poignant, but I’m not sure if this was the right medium to convey it. I could see this working as a fairly emotional film, though. The flashbacks would be able to be better implemented and I think it would resonate more. There would be more time for characters to leave an impression and the effective ending would become even more so as a result. This was adapted, however, in comic form for the “Secretary of Dreams” collection, so that will be interesting to see.
It should also be noted that, while many of King’s works are dismissed by literary types, this story seems to have gained some renown as it has been praised for its themes, metaphors, and even the story’s composition itself.
After the story concludes, the collection as a whole wraps up with an afterword from King himself. He reflects a bit on a few of the works and talks about what inspired them. They were just brief blurbs, as he wanted to cover several of the stories, but they were still pretty interesting.
Overall, this was a solid collection. It had its highs and lows, but I’m eager to move on to what’s ahead.