Gwendy’s Final Task, a New Psychological Thriller by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

The Bottom Line: A satisfying conclusion to the Button Box trilogy that takes heroine to new heights, both literally and metaphorically

Book one, Gwendy’s Button Box – which we ranked as one of Stephen King’s best audiobooks – kicked things off in familiar ground for King fans. In Castle Rock, Maine, a device with terrifying and glorious powers reveals itself to Gwendy Peterson, who is challenged to act responsibly.  The box offered treats and vintage coins, but pushing any of its eight colored buttons promised death and destruction.

Years later, the button box still features prominently Gwendy’s life. Now a successful novelist and a United States senator, Gwendy is once again forced to deal with temptation. Malignant forces seek to possess the button box, and it is up to Senator Gwendy Peterson to keep it from them at all costs. But where can she hide it?

Space. Gwendy uses political connections to arrange to be taken up to the international space station, where she plans to free Earth of its temptation once and for all.

There’s just two problems with her plan. First, the trip has been financed by an obnoxious billionaire who is clearly obsessed by the box. He’s exactly the type of person Gwendy needs to keep the box away from. The other problem? Gwendy has Alzheimers, and it’s getting worse fast. At times, she can barely remember what the mission is. There’s an easy temporary cure available, but the consequences are devastating.

This, the trilogy’s third and final installment, takes the story in both new and familiar territory. The suspense created as Gwendy attempts to hide her affliction – as well as the button box itself – from her fellow passengers is riveting. Longtime King fans will also find lots of references to familiar settings and characters from his vast catalog. Among them are the eternally curse Derry, Maine; an evil clown lurking in sewer drains; references to a certain tower.

And finally, what could be more King than numerous references to real-world right wing politics, including several jabs at Donald Trump? Readers looking for an escape from American politics won’t find one here. With that said, Gwendy’s Final Task is packed with suspense from start to finish, as well as some of King’s most heartfelt writing. Recommended.

Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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