Gwendy's Button Box

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4 stars
A short but poignant morality tale

Gwendy’s Button Box is the result of a collaboration between Stephen King and anthology editor/publisher Richard Chizmar. It’s a short novella about a young, awkward girl named Gwendy (shocking, I know) who is given an odd device by a stranger. It turns out that the “button box” has great potential for evil, but it can also change her life for the better. Will she be a responsible custodian?

At one point, Gwendy quizzes her teacher and class about what to do, using a not-so-subtle political analogy. The story invites us to reflect on the responsibilities of power — perhaps, knowing King’s liberal politics, it was prompted by the recent occupation of the White House by a bumbling demagogue.

It’s a good story that stays with you and that suffers only from being a bit too cartoonish in parts. You’ll probably devour this in one or two sittings, so you might want to go for the cheap Kindle edition (7 US$ as of this writing).