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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

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Ursula K. Le Guin
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Progress: 54 %
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Progress: 28 %
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
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The Bungalow Mystery
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Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Russell H. Tandy, Mildred Benson, Carolyn Keene

The Institute ★★★★☆

The Institute - Stephen King, Santino Fontana

When do the ends justify the means? At what point is the cost – to ourselves, to our society, to our collective moral compass - of saving the world too high?


There are only human monsters in this story, but they are all too real, too recognizable from real life. People who so believe in the ultimate rightness of their goals that they are willing to destroy innocent individuals to benefit all of mankind. And having committed to it, refuse to honestly question its necessity or explore possible alternatives. In reducing individuals to the status of tools, they make it possible to dehumanize them, removing any checks on people with an appetite for cruelty and thirst for power. Does it matter that these human tools are only children?


Uncle Steve once again tells a great story. His main protagonists are easy to identify with, to root for, to invest in. He peoples it with minor characters that captured me for whatever time they were on stage. It’s an interesting ride that carried me along to the end, and more unusually for King, the ending was a satisfying one. It’s not a HEA, but it is hopeful. It allows us to believe in the best of ourselves, even after acknowledging the worst.


What it fails to do is give us much insight into the villains. In the best of Uncle Steve’s stories, his villains are given equal voice, where we can see inside their psyches, understand their decisions, and sometimes even have some empathy for what they are. Here, they only tell us why, and the experience is less satisfying for it.


Audiobook via Audible. I’d heard raves about Santino Fontana’s narration in Carolyn Kepnes’s You, but this was the first opportunity I’ve had to hear him, and his performance was outstanding.



I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Modern Masters of Horror: Horror published in or after 2000.