Tie-in books can serve a great purpose, whether it be to expand on the original medium’s story or give it a different perspective. There are, however, some tie-in books that really aren’t worth the paper they are printed on (or the data they’re ebook’ed on).
While I am a fan of Stephen King‘s work, his direct to TV mini-series Rose Red proved to be a misstep (I have similar thoughts on Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere). It had an interesting premise consisting of a ‘living’ house, people with (to be general) psychic powers, and a deep backstory. All of these parts added up to an average haunted house viewing that could have been better off with a larger budget and less C-grade actors.
A large part of Rose Red‘s tale centred around the original owners of the house, the Rimbauers, and their family life over the years. The idea that the wife, Ellen, kept a diary from just before the initial construction of Rose Red and up until her death many years later was a fascinating one. This storytelling technique allowed for enough backstory to flesh out the tale without needless info dumping.
Upon my first ever visit to Bookworm in Fishhoek, I walked away with a second-hand copy of Rose Red tie-in novel The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red. I never realised it existed up until that point. But what started off as a promising read, quickly turned into less of a page turner and more of a page burner.
According to My Life at Rose Red‘s cover, the novel was penned by Ellen, with annotations and notes from Joyce Reardon and Steven Rimbauer (both of whom appear in the Rose Red movie). In reality, it was written by Ridley Pearson, who is most notable for crime thrillers and children’s books.
The book is, of course, written as a diary, which is usually an interesting premise and style in the right hands. After the first few pages, I quickly began to despise the fictional author and everyone around her. The character was incredibly naive and took some very questionable actions during the course of the story — nothing lewd and unruly, but rather openly stupid. Sure, in ways she is both hero and villain, and I felt far more disdain for her. It’s a shame, really, as the book could have been so much better. In hindsight, it should probably have been written by King, himself.
In contrast, Doom 3: Worlds on Fire, a tie-in to the Doom 3 video game, acted as a pseudo-prequel, which was a decent read. I’m not going to throw off all tie-in novels as they’re a guilty pleasure of mine, but My Life at Rose Red may just be buried in my storage unit until the end of time.
Hey, I might just be wrong about My Life at Rose Red as it does hold a 3.65 rating on Goodreads.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red for yourself (and why would you?), here are a few options: