Duma Key

A Novel
Narrated by: John Slattery
Length: 21 hrs
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (13,441 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2009 Audie Award for Fiction

A terrible accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. When his marriage suddenly ends, Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived his injuries. He wants out. His psychologist suggests a new life distant from the Twin Cities, along with something else:  

"Edgar, does anything make you happy?"
"I used to sketch."
"Take it up again. You need hedges...hedges against the night."

Edgar leaves for Duma Key, an eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico calls out to him, and Edgar draws. Once he meets Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman with roots tangled deep in Duma Key, Edgar begins to paint, sometimes feverishly; many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth's past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.

The tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory, and the nature of the supernatural: Stephen King gives us a novel as fascinating as it is gripping and terrifying.

©2008 Stephen King (P)2008 Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Featured Article: Stephen King’s 20 Best Audiobooks—The Definitive List


Stephen King is one of the most prolific American authors of all time. He has published 61 novels, more than 200 short stories, and six nonfiction books—and he shows no sign of stopping. His most recent novel, The Institute, was published in September of 2019, and we’ve already pre-ordered his novella anthology If It Bleeds, which is set to be released in March 2020. With such a large portfolio, choosing one listen to start with can be daunting.

Editor's Pick

A Stephen King gateway listen
"Stephen King's Duma Key was my gateway listen; the first audiobook that had me jonesing to get back and press play. Sure, some themes, at first mention, may sound recognizable to the regular King fan, but there's an energy and connection to the material that feels totally fresh; especially as King—who famously suffered his own near-death accident years prior—explores the relationship between healing and creativity. John Slattery (the magnetic Mad Men actor) absolutely nails the tone here, capturing the desperation and volatility of Freemantle’s fragile mind, while also making him a kind of matter-of-fact everyman who quickly becomes a stand-in for your lifelong friend. And when your friend is up against supernatural terror, how can you not listen?"
Doug P., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • 3 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Play the Book and Let the Book Play You

Some strengths of Duma Key:

Chararacters that became, at least to me, more real as friends than some people I know.

Hard-won insight into what makes us human, how we deal with time, loss, fear of loss (Since when have you taken the chance to make friends with an 86 year old woman?), the mysterious tangle of creativity.... This all makes me want to, rather than a dead sort of word like "literary," apply to King what someone, if I remember rightly, said about Ellington, "He knew what music was for." King knows what a novel is for. Get involved. Come along.

And finally, it includes a supernatural element that rather than making the story less powerful, merely paints it in King's chosen palette: vivid, disturbing, painful, tender, and essentially real where it matters most, and where perhaps it looms the most dangerous.

***

John Slattery, the reading was brilliant. Your voice stood up, offered me a cool drink, and became Wireman to me. I'll miss you, my friend. Highest honors.

***Humble Response to a Few Reviews**

It's been mentioned in some of these reviews that 1) the language was unnecessarily coarse and 2) that it started slow.

First, the language is entirely appropriate to an adult novel where organic brain trauma is involved. The protagonist's verbal outbursts can be, unfortunately, all too accurate, and are intended (I believe) to frighten the reader as it does the characters involved--to offend one's sense of how things ought to be.

In response to the second, I found the pace of his development added to my involvement in the story, and helped to add the kind of inevitablity, depth, and increasing momentum so present in the best of some of King's work. Also, I believe for the novel to work as well as it does, that we must see, really see, what happens there, and in that order.

241 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite Stephen King novel yet.

Full disclosure; I'm definitely a fan of Stephen King. That said, I felt there was something special about this book. The story seemed more personal, the relationships more genuine. The narration is exquisite. Also, this book has a more satisfying ending than you normally get from SK; I don't think endings have ever been his forte (for me SK has always been more about the journey than the destination), but this one was done really well.

Written after his own car accident, this story about a man recovering from serious injury perfectly described the phenomenon of living with ever present pain - something I've rarely found described accurately.

All in all, a fantastic, thoughtful, spooky story told perfectly. I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did.

153 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Could Not Stop Listening

I gave this weekend to
Stephen King. Nothing accomplished except very long walks with dog and MP3 player. I would vote that this is his best book ever. The Florida Keys will never be the same, and I won't be buying any artwork soon!!!!You need to read/listen to this book. PS I really enjoyed the reader also.

62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Typical King

Hard to believe that I've been reading Stephen King for twenty-five years, but there it is. I started with "Pet Sematary" and have read 90% of what he's written since. Does that make me a King "expert"? A dubious distinction . . .
Characterization is King's strong suit. Horror or fantasy or straight fiction -- it doesn't matter. His characters stick with you. King's ability to make us identify with his stock every-day-sort-of-guy main character represents his greatest strength as a writer. You'll like Freemantle and Wireman. You could have a beer with them. (You'll recognize Freemantle from Mike Noonan in "Bag of bones." Twins separated at birth, maybe?)

You'll also recognize King's typical build-up. Normal guy in unusual circumstances finds himself confronted with ambiguous monster out to get him (and his family) for unknown reasons. The foreplay is always more exciting that the actual act. Just like in "Dreamcatcher", King has trouble in this book moving from the heavily foreshadowed bogeyman to the real-life campaign to kill it. (Where do his monsters ever come from anyway? Do they ever have a history?) The exposition is quality, like something out of "The Stand" or "Hearts in Atlantis", but the ending melts into cheesiness, like a chapter from "Salem's Lot."

As an English teacher, I have a running row with my colleagues about whether or not King writes literature or trash. My argument has always been that he writes both. Most people don't realize that he's behind "The Shawshank Redemption" or "Stand by Me", or that his story "The Man in Black" won 1st place a few years back in "The Best American Short Story." (Ok, maybe that was a marketing ploy. But any guy who churns out a book a year, at least, is using the "win sometimes lose sometimes" strategy.) In this book he wins and loses. Great characterization and build up, unsatisfying hackneyed ending.

87 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A story with great relationships

I loved this book. After reading Under the Dome which was a noisy, fairly grim story...it was nice to follow it up with a quieter tale that is much more human. In fact, Duma Key is very literary in the way it is written.

What I loved is that there is no bad guy in this book. Edgar Freemantle actually is blessed with loving friends and family. These relationships are developed throughout the story. I cared about them so much, I wasn't looking forward to the part of the book where you know the inevitable shoe is going to drop.

The ending is perfect and restrained. I was actually sad when it ended. There are clues sprinkled throughout the book that click together at the end and everything pretty much makes sense, with enough left open to keep you thinking days later. Its very haunting...

John Slattery (Mad Men) does an awesome job. This story is told in first person, and he really did become Edgar Freemantle.

If you're looking for a King book that doesn't have buckets of gore or violence, yet has enough chills to make you want to sleep with the lights on. If you're looking for a book with characters you will care about. I recommend this book.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not your regular Stephen King novel

Another great story from the amazing Stephen King, but very different. We have an interesting main character, a strange place and a fight with pain. This one seemed to me much personal than other works by this author and as I understand it he wrote it after his almost deadly car accident.

John Slattery brings all the characters, places and events to life with his calm, relaxing voice.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

King is back as on of my favorites after Duma Key

I'm back now as a fan of Stephen King after listening to Duma Key.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent! Best narrator ever!

I can't say enough good things about this book. I love the story (of course - Stephen King is the best) but John Slattery's narration is excellent - great voice and subtle but distinctive character differences. Very memorable. I've probably listened to 40 audio books in the last couple of years and this is the best. I've listened to it twice. I'll listen to anything with John Slattery.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book

Duma Key is one of Stephen Kings best. He too often gets pigeon-holed as just a Horror writer when what he really is a Great writer. I listen to his books not because they make me want to look under the bed for monsters, as another reviewer mentioned, but because they are great stories.

Although they usually deal with the super-natural, it's the everyday, blue collar people, places, and dialog in his stories that I find so believable. That's what allows me to visualize what's happening and escape into the story.

Listening to Duma Key gave me 21 of the most enjoyable hours I've spent in quite some time.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the wait!!

I loved this book. Great plot with just enough of the surreal to know its King yet totally believeable character action and developement. I have read almost every King book and this one is on the top of the list. I have listened to some 200 books in the past three years and this narrator, John Slattery, is one I will seek out in the future! Seems like I liked it. You will too!

49 people found this helpful