Built on a Native American burial ground in Seattle in the early 20th century, Rose Red was to be a Queen among houses. Built as a wedding gift by John Rimbauer for his wife Ellen, Rose Red claims a victim even before the foundations are laid.
A foreman is shot to death; his death would only be the first, however and would be far from the last. People begin to disappear. First a maid, then another woman. Ellen knows there is something wrong within the walls of Rose Red. Sukeena, Ellen’s maid, knows there is evil within the walls too. She is an African witch woman and knows the face of evil. Ellen keeps a diary to document the events surrounding Rose Red.
It becomes her confidant and the stuff of nightmares. Wanting to find answers for the strange goings on in her house, Ellen hires a medium to hold a séance. John Rimbauer scorns this event, but it changes Ellen’s life forever. The medium receives a message from the house, from Rose Red. She tells Ellen that as long as the house continues to be built, Ellen will never die.
Preparations begin the next day for new wings to be added to Rose Red. Strange things begin to happen in Rose Red. There are noises at night time; rooms exist where no room existed before. As more people continue to disappear, Ellen can’t quite get over the idea that the house seems to be building itself. Then someone is found dead. More dead bodies follow, always men. Women only disappear in Rose Red.
Men are killed savagely. With each new death and disappearance, Ellen’s world is plunged into turmoil. She knows she must stop the force within the house before something else happens. She is too late; Rose Red has taken her daughter.
For those of you who don’t already know, “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer” was actually written by Ridley Pearson as a movie tie in for Stephen King’s three part, six hour miniseries “Stephen King’s Rose Red” that aired in 2002. Stephen King has this to say on his web site:
“Now it can be told–the actual author of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is suspense novelist (and Rock Bottom Remainder bass guitarist) Ridley Pearson. Ridley did a great job–I couldn’t have done better myself…”
If you haven’t seen “Stephen King’s Rose Red,” I urge you to do so as it is the epitome of the modern haunted house movie. One would think a movie tie in novel would be an awful rewrite of the story with no depth behind it or anything worth reading.
I held back on picking up the book for so long as I was afraid that the novel would be found lacking when compared to the movie. I was happily surprised to find that I was very wrong indeed.
The novel was written as a companion to the movie. In fact, it explains more within its pages than the movie does. Several things in the movie are left without an explanation. There are explanations a plenty of the haunting at Rose Red within the diaries pages. There is even a web site that relates to the diary and the miniseries.
There are pages of the diary that are only published on the web. Apart from being part of a brilliant multi-media advertising campaign, “My Life at Rose Red – The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer” is an incredible, beautiful work.
It examines the power of fear and what happens when someone is pushed to far. It takes a chilling look at the human condition and the stresses of the unknown. What was surprising were the subplots of the novel. Ellen is a young woman in a terrible marriage. There is also the issue of lesbianism between Ellen and her maid Sukeena; Ellen examines her budding sexuality and tries to find herself, even while she is struggling with the evil that is going on around her.
The novel is more about personal discovery than anything else. It takes a look at what scares us, what torments our dreams. It is a beautiful, darkly gorgeous novel and can be read on its own apart from “Stephen King’s Rose Red.”
Even if you don’t watch the movie, read “My Life at Rose Red-The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer.” It will leave you breathless and in awe of the beauty found in the dark. Just make sure you always bring someone with you into the darkness…you may be liable to disappear.