Holly by Stephen King: beware of old people

If you are a loyal reader of this column, you know that I love horror films and Stephen King. I set out to read most of his work, except for The Dark Tower. I really don’t care for fantasy. I really liked the novels featuring Holly. Obviously, I threw myself into the latest eponymous opus. You won’t be surprised: I loved it. Warning: this column reveals certain parts of the plot.

Deep mutation

We find Holly, head of the detective agency, in the middle of COVID and in the middle of mourning her mother. Like the world around her, Holly is changing. She changes and this change, which was discreet in the previous stories, becomes much more significant.

Why is it more obvious? Because Holly no longer has anyone to stifle her or take the blows for her. His toxic mother died, a victim of her stupidity. His uncle has Alzheimer’s and is vegetating in a nursing home. Jerome – yes without accent – ​​is writing a book. Barbara also took up the pen. Holly’s old sidekicks are no longer around.

Holly is alone and no longer has a choice: she must free herself from her chains. Before being a horror story – rest assured, we’re getting there – Holly is a novel of emancipation and deliverance. We can even go so far as to say that it is a learning novel. What shows this liberation most is the last scene of the book. Stephen King never disappoints, he understands the world and people, this novel is further proof of that.

Fragile little beings

Holly’s path will cross that of a couple of retired higher education workers. Admit it: You wouldn’t be suspicious of an elderly couple, especially if one of them is in a wheelchair. At no time would you feel in danger. No alarms would go off in your mind.

Unless you’re deeply paranoid like me. One day when I was returning home, an old gentleman wanted to enter the building at the same time as me. He didn’t have an access badge and I didn’t know him. Luckily, one of my neighbors was on her balcony and told me who it was. I apologized, I let him in and since then, when I see him, we smile at each other. Objectively, this old man could not have hurt me. He was shorter than me, was hunched over, walked slowly. To caricature, I would have made it fall by blowing on it. And yet, this voice in my head told me: you don’t know him.

My reaction is not normal, in the sense that it does not reflect a general movement. No one would leave an old man at the door. No one would let an old man struggle with his wife’s wheelchair, which is out of battery. And for good reason: our society conditions us to classify people according to their dangerousness. We will not think that a pregnant woman or an elderly person could be dangerous or want to harm us.

Playing on clichés

How to inspire confidence in those close to you? How to approach targets? By showing himself to be completely incompetent in computers. Here again, King exploits one of the clichés of our society: older people do not know how to use a computer or a smartphone. Emily Harris, the elderly woman in a wheelchair mentioned above, pretends to have difficulty even turning on her computer.

Of course, it’s all false. But who would doubt it? Certainly not people who were born either with a computer in their hands or a smartphone. When COVID hits, the couple skillfully takes advantage of the restrictions imposed. Unfortunately for Emily and Rodney — her husband — they aren’t as good as Holly.

Because the queen of IT remains Holly and she has not been dethroned. However, one may have some doubts about his way of investigating online. I’m not sure I would have done it that way. But, all in all, it still works.

Some might think that the plot lacks coherence. We might think so if we expect a “real” detective novel. Except that it is a horror novel, which has nothing supernatural about it. King reminds us that the horror is within us. There is no need to look for evil entities like Valak (The Nun 1 and 2), extra-terrestrials (American Horror Story) or supernatural manifestations. She’s already there. So go and devour Holly. One last piece of advice for the road: don’t eat while reading this book or become a vegetarian.

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