Being sick is always a great reason to catch up on your pleasure reading. As I have hacked my guts up this week, again, I took about five hours and read straight through Stephen King’s latest book, Full Dark, No Stars. Most of my favorite pieces of Stephen King’s writing are found in his short collections, or in his novellas. Full Dark contains four novellas, and each is fantastic. This is the best thing Mr. King has written in the most recent few years, in my opinion. The stories are very dark, but sort of fun as well.
One of the reasons that reviewing a book of novellas, or any novella, is that the pieces are too short to talk about in depth without giving spoilers, but I’ll give you a brief, cryptic-as-possible description of each story.
A man’s confession of why he murdered his wife and how he paid for it. The mood of dread in this story is perfectly sustained throughout. Reminded me in some ways of Lovecraft’s The Rats In The Walls, but probably not for the reason you might suspect. It also reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde, one of my favorite films.
Come now Earthling, you didn’t really think you were going to get four Stephen King horror stories without one of them having a writer as a character. In this case it’s a woman who writes a series of detective mysteries featuring old ladies. She gets invited to fill in as a speaker at a nearby library. When she is driving home she takes a shortcut which, if you can believe it, is a bad choice. After undergoing some unpleasantness, she puts her novel-plotting skills to work as she constructs and conducts a satisfying revenge on the wrong-doers.
Every writer eventually has to do the making-a-deal-with-the-Devil story. Fair Extension is funny. It’s really funny. A man with cancer is granted a reprieve from his illness, but with a condition. His life is saved for a few extra years, but someone else’s is going to go downhill in a big way.
A Good Marriage
While her husband is away, his wife discovers a box in the garage that contains a dark secret. She does not know her husband quite as well as she thought. In the afterword to the book Stephen King talks about where the inspiration for this story came from and it was pretty interesting to me.
Anyways, if you like Stephen King I think you’ll love this book. I did. It’s a return to many of the things I love about his work. These stories are pretty grim, though, so go in with your eyes open. I’m very, very happy that he’s still writing. And again, I’d be completely happy if he published nothing but short fiction for the rest of his career. I think it’s what he does best.
There you have it. A Full Dark No Stars review that should set your feet on the path of glory.
You can buy Full Dark, No Stars here if you’re looking for an antidote to the current holly-jolliness all around you.
Also, if you’re looking for something else by King, here is a list of Stephen King books that I have read so far, with brief reviews.
Strength training for body and mind