Stephen King, ITKill you all!” The clown was laughing and screaming. “Try to stop me and I’ll kill you all! Drive you crazy and then kill you all! You can’t stop me! I’m the Gingerbread Man! I’m the Teenage Werewolf!”
And for a moment It was the Teenage Werewolf, the moon-silvered face of the lycanthrope peering out at them from over the collar of the silver suit, white teeth bared.
Can’t stop me, I’m the leper!”
Now the leper’s face, haunted and peeling, rotting with sores, stared at them with the eyes of the living dead.
Can’t stop me, I’m the mummy!”
The leper’s face aged and ran with sterile cracks. Ancient bandages swam halfway out of his skin and solidified there. Ben turned away, his face white as curds, one hand plastered over his neck and ear.
Can’t stop me, I’m the dead boys!”

Seven kids tried to kill a child-killing monster back in 1958. It is a monster with many faces, sometimes taking a shape deliberately to lure its victims toward It, sometimes reflecting back their own worst nightmare. And grownups can’t see It: more accurately, they don’t see It – either way, they cannot stop It. Only the children have any sort of chance, and they did hurt It. They thought they had killed It, but the monster returns 27 years later, and they are drawn back to their hometown of Derry to give it one more shot. Only this time they are grownups themselves, and the situation is desperate.

OK, so it was quite scary, but nothing like as scary as it would have been had I been reading this 15 years ago when I would probably have got myself into checking-under-the-bed territory. Phew. Actually, the violence of the human foes was more troubling, more heartstopping to me than the violence of the monster. Perhaps because it seemed more real, more plausible. Less amenable to a magical cure. Having said that, the scariness and the violence are in some ways only the context for the book, they are not the point of it. The point of it, is that it is a story about friends, love, bravery, laughter, belief, desire – and about the power of those things in the face of what is monstrous.

So it was good, but there were a number of things that niggled me.

The quality of writing wasn’t stratospheric. Don’t get me wrong, it was good on the whole and to sustain anything for 1100 pages is quite a feat. But he really should have had a better editor – too many annoying little repetitions, too frequent use of slightly pompous expressions such as “depended from” in the sense of “hung down from” (wow that one was so annoying it has lodged in my brain never to depart).

Also, I was not so impressed with some of the characterisations. I mean, back in the day one thing I liked about King was his characters, and the way even minor bozos who were about to get splatted were real people rather than walking targets. But, honestly – the kid who was fat because his mum kept pouring seconds and thirds down him (You’re a growing lad, you need a good dinner inside you, blah, blah) and who lost weight to prove he wasn’t a loser? the asthmatic kid who was wimpy because his mum cosseted him, terrified of letting him grow up and away so that he might no longer need her? the woman who grew up to marry a violent shit who pretended to care about her because he was just like her dad? I could go on. Basically, superficial stereotyped horse poo. Maybe it was positively enlightened in 1986 – after all it has a black hero complete with HIS BLACK EXPERIENCE even a nearly sympathetic portrayal of a gay man – but I mean. Gah.

Oh, and the sex bit at the end? Ick.

Overall, probably not one for grownups. Not unless you’re already scared of clowns, balloons, or things that go bump in the night….

Here’s an Amazon link.
I used the local library.

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