Stephen King has been for so long the master of the thick blockbuster horror paperback that it is salutary to be reminded of the quieter writer of shorter, tighter stories that he also is. His new novella could hardly be simpler--a nine-year-old girl, smart and resourceful, gets herself lost in the deep woods when she strays off the path for a moment and struggles to survive with a little food, not especially sensible clothing and a Walkman. One of the threats dogging Trisha is her imagination--she is an smart enough child to know how much trouble she is in and gradually to personify the wasps, and midges and dangerous animals, as a God of the Lost. And that imagination is also her strongest resource--she has a baseball cap signed by the Red Sox pitcher Tom Gordon, which becomes her talisman. This is a story of almost pure sentiment and suspense; King has always had fascinating insight into the minds of children and a command of detail that makes him the ideal writer of certain sorts of shipwreck. The almost minimal material here--a single character, what she has on her, and deep woods--make this one of his most gripping and compulsive tales.

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