I am thoroughly surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I virtually never read "horror"--so imagine my shock at not being able to put this one down.
Eleanor Druse is an energetic 75-year-old spiratualist with psychic abilities. Following a friend's suicide attempt, Eleanor pays a visit to Kingdom Hospital in Maine .... where she has a startling vision that causes her to faint into a deathly seizure. Eleanor is then admitted into the hospital as a patient....and odd and sinister events ensue. There are mad doctors and mysterious earthquakes and partial (perhaps repressed?) memories that make Eleanor determined to find out: Is the hospital haunted? Or is she herself simply becoming addled senior citizen?
I will add this book is possibly (probably) written by Stephen King, which makes me even more surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. King's writing is usually too wordy for me, and I have struggled in the past to get though one or two of his enormous 3-inch-thick tomes. This book, however, came in at a scant 244 pages, and perhaps that had a lot to do with my enjoyment. No matter though; it was a page-turner for me! **** Four stars!
The newly built Kingdom Hospital in Lewiston, Maine, is one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country - a truly remarkable edifice known for its esteemed doctors and ground-breaking medical advancements. Eleanor Druse is called to Kingdom Hospital on a snowy night in December, at the behest of her childhood friend, Madeline Krueger. Madeline had attempted suicide and Eleanor's name was mentioned in the note that she had written that had been found near her.
The night that Eleanor arrives at the Kingdom - Friday, December 13th - is the night Madeline dies and Eleanor herself has a near death experience. Now a patient at the Kingdom, Eleanor is determined to discover the dark secrets of the Kingdom - secrets which may in fact have their roots in the request Madeline Krueger printed at the bottom of her note: 'Sally, the little girl who saved us has survived the fire but she is still lost in the lair of the living.' Madeline signed the note November 2, 1939.
Eleanor's memories of that specific date are somewhat cloudy. She and Madeline had been patients in the children's ward on November 2, 1939, both suffering from whooping cough at the time. November 2, 1939 was also the date the hospital known as the 'Old Kingdom' was razed by a mysterious fire which killed a doctor and a 15-year-old boy who was undergoing treatment.
Eleanor's further investigations uncover an even darker history surrounding Kingdom Hospital: it had been erected on the site of a terrible tragedy - a textile mill burned to the ground on November 2, 1869 - killing dozens of workers, mostly children. And it appears that beneath the sheen of the new construction and scientific innovations of the Kingdom, an indecipherable and primal evil lurks - and the soul of a trapped and helpless child cries out for solace.
I remember reading this book sometime in 2005, I believe. 'Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital' was broadcast between March 3 and July 15, 2004 and I watched every episode except one. That ignited my interest in reading the book the miniseries was based on, so I went to the library when I could and checked out this book as soon as it was available. I give this book an A!
I had wanted to review this book much earlier than now, but I could never find another copy until I looked the title up on Paperback Swap and was able to get a copy for myself. I have noticed that 'Eleanor Druse' has been attributed as being a pen name for Stephen King, but I believe that the author behind 'Eleanor Druse' is actually Richard Dooling - who co-wrote and produced the 2004 miniseries - and is himself the author of four books.