Book Review – It by Stephen King – ‘We all float down here…’

COULROPHOBIA is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as an “extreme or irrational fear of clowns…”

Some researchers believe that, while not much is known about coulrophobia as it is a fairly recent fear, dating back to the early 1980s, cases of Coulrophobia spiked in the early to mid-1990s – around the same time that the movie version of the 1986 Stephen King horror classic, It, was released in the form of a miniseries.

 stephen king GIF

Coincidence? You be the judge of that. However, if you suffer from this phobia, you’ll probably be all too familiar with Stephen King’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the murderous shapeshifting entity from It that terrorised the small fictional town of Derry, Maine, in 1957.

“Derry: a small city in Maine, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own home town. Only in Derry, the haunting is real: in the sewers and storm-drains beneath the streets, in the canals and wastelands beyond them, something is lurking…”

It’s a rainy day in Derry and William Denborough is sick in bed. His younger brother, George, is excited when William, also known as ‘Stuttering Bill’, makes him a paper boat and sends him outside to play in the rain. But Georgie’s excitement soon turns to terror, as his paper boat is swept along the rain-swollen gutter and into a stormdrain, where his attempt to retrieve it brings him face to face with a monster.


Pennywise manifests himself to 6-year-old Georgie as a clown, his way of luring children to their death, and offers him a balloon, enticing him nearer to the stormdrain.

“They float down here George, we all float down here,” he states ominously, before tearing off Georgie Denborough’s arm and killing him. “You’ll float too.”

Not long after the gruesome death of George Denborough, the seven main characters in the story are brought together through a series of events that culminates in them forming The Losers Club.

Image result for the losers club 2017

The Losers Club consists of Ben Hanscom, an overweight boy, Eddie Kaspbrak, a hypochondriac boy who believes he has asthma, ‘Stuttering Bill’ Denbrough, George’s elder brother who suffers from a stutter and rides on a rusty bike named Silver, Richie Tozier, a smart-mouthed joker, Stanley Uris, a young Jewish boy, Beverly Marsh, who lives with her abusive father and eventually Mike Hanlon, an African-American boy. All are 11-years-old and all have encountered the monster that torments their town in some form.

As well as the shapeshifting entity that threatens to kill them, they must also contend with the town bully, Henry Bowers, a monster in his own right, who is intent on harming them, assisted by his own gang of misguided misfits.

The Bowers Gang is a group of seven 12-year-old neighbourhood bullies who attend the same school as the members of The Losers Club.

Image result for the bowers gang 2017

Henry is the leader, while his two best friends and sidekicks, Victor ‘Vic’ Criss and Reginald ‘Belch’ Huggins are the co-leaders. The rest of the gang is made up by Patrick Hockstetter, Peter Gordon, Steve ‘Moose’ Sadler and Gard Jagermeyer.

“Derry: a small city in Maine, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own home town. Only in Derry, the haunting is real: in the sewers and storm-drains beneath the streets, in the canals and wastelands beyond them, something is lurking…”

At 1116 pages long, the novel that instilled terror in a generation of Stephen King fans, is presented in five parts that jump between the horror that befell the town of Derry in 1957, and the reawakening of the entity in 1984 that unites the remaining members of The Losers Club as they honour their childhood pact to return to Derry and fight the monster if It ever re-emerges from its slumber beneath the surface of the town.

While the rest of The Losers Club leave Derry to become largely successful adults, Mike Hanlon remains and becomes the town librarian, researching the history of It and Derry’s forgotten scourge, watching and waiting… until It wakes once more.

The 1984 murder of a young gay man named Adrian Mellon in a town like Derry would generally go unnoticed.

However, after being thrown from a bridge by a group of homophobic youths into the canal below, Mellon is dragged away and brutally slain by the same monster responsible for the gruesome death of George Denborough, along with countless others, 27 years earlier.

The thugs are arrested after Mellon’s mutilated corpse is discovered, but one of them claims to have seen the victim being killed by a man in a silver clown suit.

Interesting fact: Aside from the presence of Pennywise, the death of Adrian Mellon in the book was inspired by the actual murder of Charles O Howard that took place in Bangor, Maine in 1984.

Charles O Howard

After another spate of child murders rip through the town, Hanlon is compelled to contact the other six members of The Losers Club, but only five return to Derry to face the awful horrors of their childhood in an attempt to destroy the evil that lurks beneath their hometown once and for all…

Pennywise returns every 27 years to feed on the children of Derry.

In another creepy coincidence, or perhaps a brilliantly orchestrated three decade plot, the first part of the remake of Stephen King’s It is scheduled for release in South African cinemas on September 15, 2017… 27 years after the original miniseries was released in 1990.

You might also enjoy:

11.22.63 – Through the ‘Rabbit Hole’ with Stephen King

Book Review: The Green Mile – Stephen King

Rabies – The stuff of horror movies and why you should vaccinate


Elaine Rodway

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