I just finished Duma Key yesterday and I am compelled to say that this is some of the best writing--as in attention to language, turn of phrase, imagery--I've seen Stephen King exhibit--ever.
It's getting mixed reviews. People either love it or hate it, but I think those that hate it are largely those who don't want him to experiment--they want him to write the same kind of story with the same kind of characters over and over. I saw similar complaints when John Grisham wrote Painted House (another favorite of mine) for the same reason.
Horror almost takes a back seat in this Stephen Kig novel, which gave this reader a chance to appreciate the compelling plot and character development. I was enraptured by the interspersed chapters which meshed the MC's thoughts and advice with flashbacks on the life of a significant secondary character. Duma Key wasn't just about things that go bump in the night or the depravity of mankind or possession or obsession (though those played into the plot as they just about have to). Stephen gave relationships and their affect on us a great deal of credence in this one and, further, closely examined the power of true friendship.
There are numerous scenes that stand out for me, but the one that comes to mind most often is classic Stephen King, though better. Our MC finishes painting a hugely important painting (in the dark, which I found to be metaphorical--because that's how writing sometimes seems) and is coming down his stairs. He's faced with his open front door, sand from the beach and rain blowing in, and sees two . . . Ahh . . . You'll have to read it yourself. Lets just say when the character recovers from what he'd seen and continued (Hours later) down the stairs, I was helping him look around corners and double-checking behind him to make sure he didn't miss any footprints.
It seems to me it took a clumsy turn in the last quarter of the book. Like in The Shining, where he used a supernaturally charged topiary in the last scene--a device I found ludicrous and disengaging--he relied on . . . well, I won't ruin it for you. I guess there are just things which I will never find frightening and one of them is animated bushes. But at that point in the plot I cared so much about what happened that I was willing to forgive it. The final ending was just fine.
When I truly enjoy a book, I don't want it to end. This was one of those. And I might just read it again with a highlighter; there are some fine, quotable lines in Duma Key.
He's forgiven for Needful Things.