As a horror fan, I'm familiar with many of Stephen King's works simply by hearing other fans talk about them. Many of his works have also been made into hit movies. His works are so popular that the media often references his work. It's difficult not to at least have some knowledge of King simply because of his popularity. I have mixed feelings toward The Tommyknockers, the first novel I've read by King.
Bobbi is a successful western writer living in a small town with her dog Peter, while Gardner is a popular drunk poet who can't keep his life together. The two main characters are long time friends and their lives and personalities contrast in a fascinating way. You'd think with Gardner's instability he'd be the one to get into trouble, but it's actually Bobbi that ends up going crazy upon finding a strange piece of metal on her property. While she starts digging the rest of this large metal thing up, there are consequence to her health and that of others who live in the area. All of the people in town start acting strange. They invent futuristic machines that run only on batteries, some of them start hearing voices, the townspeople develop telepathy. There are physical changes, too. Women start menstruating non-stop, people start losing teeth, and their bodies start changing shape.
The townspeople begin disliking outsiders. Strangely, this turns out to be a non issue. Whenever people drive through the area they get so sick that they find another route and encourage others to do the same. Knowing that something's wrong with Bobbi, only Gardner is brave enough to venture into the town. Things just get worse from there.
During certain portions of the novel, I found myself being pulled back to H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space, one of my favorite pieces. With a bit of research I found in On Writing, King states he got the basic idea from Lovecraft's work.
I enjoyed the story and the characters. I felt like it was much longer than necessary, though. A lot of what was supposed to add to the suspense just felt tedious to me. To be fair, I've mentioned this before, horror tends to work best for me when it's in short story format. Much like the romance genre, I'm willing to take a foray to novel-length horror from time to time. I'm starting to think it's just not my thing, though.