Stephen King needs no introduction. To date, the internationally bestselling author and writer most well-known synonymously with the horror genre and the ability to terrify readers the world over, has published 54 novels. Some of them have been more fantasy-based, some thrillers, others perhaps more mainstream fiction, yet almost all of them have featured a monster, some strange fantastical creature or a seemingly ordinary human of extreme evil and hate. These are the people and “things” that terrify his many readers, be they Randall Flagg, Pennywise the Clown, “Big” Jim Rennie, Annie Wilkes, The Crimson King or Norman Daniels.
Over the last couple of years I’ve had the chance to listen to a lot of audiobooks and reread a large number of Stephen King books. I’ve gone through King’s bibliography before, so it’s been a lot of fun revisiting a number of these stories and enjoying the thrill of fear and excitement. The many monsters and creatures and spooks in the night were a delight, reminding me why I enjoy reading this author so much.
I’ve had in my mind since I first read Stephen King, the freakiest of the freaks, the monsters that really stayed with me long after I’d finished the book, taking up residence in the part of the my mind that thrills at the dark and twisted. Randall Flagg from The Stand showed new ways you could do things to people other than just killing them. Pennywise from It showed that no child will be ever safe again. The various nightmares and horrors of The Dark Tower series stretched across various genres in a way only Stephen King can. And Annie Wilkes showed what it means to be a true fan.
And then I got to Rose Madder, which I first read probably about 15 years ago. The basic story stuck with me as most Stephen King stories do, and boiled down, it’s a relatively simple one. Rose Daniels flees from the husband because he is a horrible, abusing bastard and she simply can’t take it anymore. Eventually Norman, because he’s a good cop, is able to find and come after Rose.
Norman Daniels is the most terrifying monster Stephen King has ever invented, and the man is completely human. Obviously, upstairs in the brain attic he has a lot of things wrong with him, but he has not supernatural powers or abilities, just his strength and cunning . . . and his teeth, which he likes to use on just about anyone and cares little about the consequences. And of course King provides plenty of twisted details and scenes of Norman doing what he does best, and with how calculating and obsessed the character is, it makes him the scariest thing Stephen King has ever created.