Richard Chizmar’s solo follow up to “Gwendy’s Button Box,” co-written by Chizmar and Stephen King, proves that Chizmar is as much an authority of the “Kingverse” as King himself.
The year is 1999 and Gwendy, now well into adulthood, is living in Washington DC, serving as Congresswoman for her home state of Maine. Having fulfilled her life’s dream of becoming an author, Gwendy surprised everyone when she was inspired to run for public office because of her frustration with government mishandling and discrimination over the AIDS epidemic and the loss of her dear friend to the disease.
Gwendy’s grassroots campaign a success, she has survived her first year in office as the “celebrity congresswoman” and is ready to spend Christmas with her parents in Castle Rock. The magical button box which was given to her many years ago by the mysterious Richard Harris is a distant memory.
As she prepares for her trip back to her childhood home, out of nowhere the box appears in her congressional office. The glossy mahogany box with multitude buttons possessing the power to cause global catastrophe and small levers that dispensed treats throughout Gwendy’s formative years are unchanged. Gwendy heads back to Castle Rock, once again concealing the box’s existence from everyone, even her photojournalist husband Ryan who is away on assignment.
Back in her hometown, the community is struggling with the abduction of two local girls and Gwendy’s mother is battling cancer. Gwendy offers her aid to Castle Rock’s Sheriff Department, concerned that the missing girls and the reappearance of the button box are somehow connected. Gwendy has never forgotten the warning from the mysterious man who gave her the box so many years ago: “it gives gifts, but they’re small recompense for the responsibility.”
Questioning the events and accomplishments of her entire life, and whether they are of her doing or that of the magic box, Gwendy’s mother makes a miraculous recovery as a third girl goes missing. With few clues to work with and time running out, can Gwendy help rescue the missing girls and absolve herself of the guilt she harbors over the button box or will the box itself change the fate of the abducted?
“Gwendy’s Magic Feather” is a quickly paced story and a must read for fans of “Gwendy’s Button Box.” Chizmar’s continuation of Gwendy feels natural and somehow expected. The girl who fostered inexplicable power at her fingertips as a teen would undoubtedly grow into a woman who uses her power to make the world a better place.
The literary world is better when authors like Chizmar write books like this, for a character whose story isn’t finished. A fast paced supernatural thriller is a wonderful escape from reality, and characters like Gwendy remind us to handle our own powers with caution so that we too can grow up to make the world a better place.