Patrick Harbron/Hulu
July 25, 2018 at 07:45 PM EDT

With Castle Rock, Stephen King is opening up his toy box so others can play with his creations.

The Hulu series is based in his most famous fictional town — the setting of The Dead Zone, Cujo, Needful Things, The Dark Half, and more recently Gwendy’s Button Box — and the show draws from a handful of his existing characters and locations, entwining them with some entirely new ones.

Since this is the first episode, it’s important to lay down those ground rules. We’re not getting a strict Stephen King adaptation here. What creators Sam Shaw and Dusty Thomason are doing (with help from executive producer J.J. Abrams) is crafting a new story that exists within the margins of King’s world.

The show is also riddled with winks and nods to King’s work that might slip past the casual observer but will delight the author’s die-hard Constant Readers.

All right, take my hand. We’re crossing the town line. Castle Rock awaits. And it’s better not to go alone. (Continued on the next page: A lost boy returns…)

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