Stephen King certainly knows how to tell a story which emphasizes the darkness and sin and evil in this world. In this book, an evil spirit (or something) is awakened under the ground of a small mining town in Nevada. This spirit/demon possesses human bodies and murders everyone in the town. It then captures a few seemingly random travelers so it has bodies to possess when its current one breaks down.
Its a dark book. When one of the characters woke up in a room filled with spiders, rattlesnakes and scorpions I had to put the book down and take a walk.
But we live in a dark world. King gets that, and that’s one of my favorite things about King.
As usual in King’s books, there is some force for good as well. A young boy of eleven years old, David Carver, is God’s messenger and the spiritual guide for the group of capture people. He first prayed to God when his friend was in the hospital and his friend miraculously recovered. Since then, this boy has been chatting with God regularly.
And God talks back.
I’m a Christian and I’ve generally stayed away from so-called “Christian” fiction because its generally cheesy. The best books that hit on deep themes of good and evil tend to be found in unexpected places, like a Stephen King horror story. I mean, after his conversion experience David Carver begins meeting with a pastor in his town. This pastor is an alcoholic who admits that after decades of ministry, David’s conversion is probably the first and only real one he’s had. Now this pastor is a secondary (maybe tertiary) character. Yet as someone who also works in ministry, I feel the pastor’s skepticism and even despair. It seems so much more real than the sort of pastor you find in God’s Not Dead who is always smiling and chanting “God is good! All the time!”
I even love the attitudes of the characters who witness what can only be considered miracles and divine intervention and are still like, “yeah, maybe it was just a coincidence.”
In the end, this is why I love Stephen King books. I begin one on a Friday, expecting a weekend of escapism. I expect just a fun, scary, exciting story. Then I’m confronted with deep questions about good and evil and God.
I walk away entertained. I also walk away changed, maybe just a little bit, by two realities:
Evil is real – we must name it as it is and look it in its face.
Good is real too – we must move into the world seeking to work for good and overcome that evil.