Gwendy’s Button Box is a novella jointly written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar.
The story is set in the fictitious town of Castle Rock which is a very familiar place for Stephen King’s regular readers. It begins with twelve-year old Gwendy Peterson running up the Suicide Stairs to Castle View after a boy from school started calling her ‘Goodyear.’ Gwendy was keen to lose weight before the nickname caught on amongst her peers.
When she reached the top of the stairs Gwendy entered into a conversation with a mysterious stranger, who before he left Castle View gave Gwendy a button box with coloured buttons and levers. The stranger explained to Gwendy that each of the coloured buttons related to a continent of the world. One of the levers delivered Gwendy miniature chocolates that were so satisfying they removed her will to snack between meals while another lever delivered valuable coins.
Out of curiousity, Gwendy pushed one of the coloured buttons and was horrified by a corresponding disaster occurring in the part of the world that button represented. During the remainder of her guardianship of the button box, Gwendy did her utmost to protect and hide the box from anyone who might inadvertently push a button and cause another disaster.
The tense is unusual, third person, past tense. For example, In June of 1975, Gwendy stops wearing her glasses. I didn’t notice that there were two separate authors, but I did find the writing style to be familiar and I recognised Stephen King’s Castle Rock community.
I found this story to be more like a fairy tale than a horror story. Gwendy was a likeable heroine and the story was enjoyable, although it lacked depth. Gwendy’s Button Box is probably best for Stephen King’s ‘Constant Readers.’