Onyx reviews: The
Journals of Eleanor Druse
Two things are noteworthy about the cover of The Journals of Eleanor Druse:
My Investigation of the Kingdom Hospital Incident. First, the white lettering on
its front cover glows ominously in the dark. The unexpected effect is eerie and
a little unsettling.
The second is on the back cover, next to the bar code, in tiny red letters:
Fiction. Druse's Journal is a novel, a tie-in to the upcoming Stephen King TV
series, Kingdom Hospital. Hyperion did something similar with the Diary of Ellen
Rimbauer, a fake diary linked to Rose Red. Though that book, too, proclaimed
itself as fiction, a lot of people were fooled by it and some felt cheated when
they discovered that Ellen Rimbauer, the haunted mansion and the book's putative
editor, Joyce Reardon, were all fictional constructs.
The diary was a bestseller, in part because many people believed the true author
was King himself. Speculation has already begun about the identity of the new
book's author, who was revealed to be Kingdom Hospital co-writer Richard
The volume opens with a letter to King by Eleanor (Sally to her friends) Druse,
asking for his help in carrying out her research into the events at Kingdom
Hospital in Maine, where she has uncovered an otherworldly crisis. She is
sending the author her journals, recorded between late 2002 and 2003.
Septuagenarian Sally Druse is a regular volunteer and occasional patient at
Kingdom Hospital, well known by staff and patients alike. One of her oldest
friends, Madeline Kruger, is hospitalized on a stormy winter night after
attempting suicide. In 1939, Sally and Maddy were patients together in the old
Kingdom Hospital, suffering from whooping cough just before the hospital burned
to the ground.
In her suicide note, Maddy leaves a message indicating that something happened
to them sixty years ago that Sally has successfully banished from her memory.
Perhaps something related to the mysterious lesion that appears on a brain scan
taken after Sally collapses and strikes her head when she witnesses something
horrible at Kingdom Hospital later that night.
Sally is a believer in mystical events and often conducts sťances with her
fellow patients at the hospital. She carries healing crystals and meditates to
try to communicate with those who have passed on before her. Now, after Maddy's
deathbed revelation, Sally becomes aware that the tormented spirit of a young
girl haunts Kingdom Hospital, struggling to convey another message.
Sally's unambitious, beleaguered son Bobby, an orderly at Kingdom Hospital, is
her eyes and ears at the hospital and among its old records. Sally needs Maddy's
papers to find out what she has been repressing for six decades while she
simultaneously deals with the persistent spirits at the hospital—among them a
sinister shade she calls Dr. Rat—and the various levels of incompetence
exhibited by the hospital's staff, including scalpel-happy Dr. Stegman, in exile
from Boston General, who has a trail of surgical horror stories on his record.
Sally's Journal overlaps some of the events to be played out during the
fifteen-hour series, but it also provides
backstory only available to readers of this book. Dooling knows his
medicine, especially neuroscience, and the volume makes for interesting reading
on its own, though it ends with Sally's mission only partly complete. To
discover more about the mysteries being played out in Kingdom Hospital, readers
will have to check out the miniseries, which is available on DVD.
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