Welcome to Gehenna &
Hinnom. This is the first review in our series leading up to the release of the 2017 film, IT. The miniseries will follow some time tomorrow and the review for the new film will be up tomorrow night around midnight or later. This review is written as a love letter to the novel, as I’m sure purveyors of King’s work will appreciate.
Let’s dive into the
Deep in the heart of
most great tales, is a heart as real as the one within your own chest. These hearts can contain plenty of themes, but the handling of the themes is what dictates their effectiveness. Stephen King has always been known to craft works that can stand the test of time, his quality a thing most readers have come to trust. Beyond the dark interlining of the mastermind’s brain is often a cluster of emotional, touching, and endearing thematic material that is rare to see in works of horror.
Stephen King’s It is no exception. The author finds a way to not only emotionally invest his readers but to also invest their hearts. Beneath the
frightening exterior and imagery lies human aspects that are as important as the scares. In IT, we find a coming-of-age tale following seven children and their intertwined fates throughout their lives; their rivalry and eventual cataclysmic war with a cosmic entity that has been within the town of Derry for as long as life has been on Earth.
It is concerning that not many reviewers or readers have spoken of the Lovecraftian elements in IT. From the monster’s origin, to the gripping climax, there is no shortage of inspiration from the late Lovecraft, one who King has often cited as a major influence in his own writing. Though the story lives in the presence of the seven children and their quest through adulthood, the themes hold a rapturous connection to Lovecraft’s own innovative concepts.
Controversial in its own right, there are many aspects of the novel that have split audiences, most notably the infamous sex scene at the end in the sewers. As some have stated, there are implications from this scene that further the plot and, though questionable, have explanations that are at the least, passable.
The many forms of the entity that haunts Bill, Richie, Ben, Mike, Bev, Eddie, and Stan
are utterly terrifying and hypnotically woven into a narrative that encompasses such a vast and cinematic scope, that it is often easy to forget that what you are reading is a novel, and not a historical piece. The city of Derry is thought out, vividly explained, and more real to readers than most cities they have visited in the reality of their lives. The methodical and meticulous writing the King employs is worth marveling over, when considering the planning that must have taken place; the submergence of King’s own mind into the creation of Derry and its history leaving us pondering how the author himself did not become lost in his own universe.
Each character is woven with such precision, that by the end of the book we feel that we know them as well as we know ourselves. In a manner reminiscent to the television series LOST, patient time is taken to flesh out each character. The emotional connection that is developed between the readers and the Losers is one that cannot be compared and should be held in the highest of regards. The sheer existence of such an in-depth journey is enough to warrant King’s name in literature for the rest of time; this novel finds credence and equity shoulder-to-shoulder with King’s The Stand and Dark Tower series.
Cosmic horror is interwoven seamlessly into the story, creating a tantalizing, horrific embodiment of the entity It and its hold on our psyches will not soon be forgotten. There are aspects of the novel that some may find as filler, or a slowing of the pace of the story, but there are not many—if any at all—parts that do not belong in the novel. Each and every chapter
connects to other scenes of the past and the near future. King alludes to horrors that have yet to be conceptualized through the narrative, grasping onto the reader’s attention and making the page-turning feel like a natural and organic movement. In the way that a great horror film makes it difficult to look away from the screen, unsettlement creeping down the spine of the viewer, the novel achieves the same effect in a breathtaking way.
Pennywise, or It, is a monster that nightmares are born of. As old as time itself, and Its reach extending beyond one single universe or reality, the creature mirrors the children’s fears and simultaneously exploits the malleable nature of young imaginations . . . and fears
(he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts)
that are based in their own personal experiences, these experiences sometimes grim and unsettling, as is the case with Bill Denbrough and his brother George.
It provides the perfect antagonist for a cast of children, the parts of the novel concerning the adults not necessarily lacking, but certainly merely the penultimate state of the journey that began when the protagonists were young, the apex of the story, as you will. It captivates the mind with its relatability and its believable thrills. The language carries soothingly and hypnotically in a way that only King can perform. Each chapter unfolds as a piece of a larger puzzle, before ultimately creating a beautiful and timeless picture.
“Your hair is winter fire
My heart burns there, too.”
—Ben (Haystack) Hanscom
The novel of IT is one that should be considered a masterpiece among King’s bibliography. Between the historically written world, the cosmic terror that is Pennywise, or It, the fleshed-out characters who are more real than most people we will encounter in our lives, and the poetic, often personal language that King envelops the extensively thought out story, the novel is one of epic proportions.
The dialogue is natural and organic, never reading clunky or underdeveloped. Each relationship is as significant and important as the next. Moments of
hilarious dialogue contrasts the brooding sense of doom that spreads through the nearly five-hundred-thousand-word tome. To every demonic transformation of Pennywise, or It, there is
an equally powerful character in each of the seven Losers. Horrific characters like Henry Bowers compliment the cosmic entity of It, determining two distinct sides of the story, one good, and one unmercifully evil.
We recommend Stephen King’s IT if you are ready for a journey of a grand scale, one that will likely consume your mind and your thoughts for a long time to come.
OUR RATING: 5/5 STARS