Four brilliant novellas from the King – “Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King
As a big Stephen King fan, new releases from the author excite me.
Somehow, though, I put off reading “Full Dark, No Stars” for a while. Like, since it’s November 2010 release.
This is a shame, because this story collection is solid – and even thrilling in a few places.
Namely, the opening story, “1922” is a great way to kick off a collection like this. The story opens the book in a huge way, detailing one man’s account of how he (and his teenage son) murdered his wife to keep her from selling their farmland, threw her body down a well, and watched their lives fall apart – complete with teen pregnancy, bank robbery, murder, and an attack of big-ass rats. It’s gothic, it’s small-town, it’s terrifying, and it’s seriously a great read. I can’t imagine it won’t be made into a movie soon enough.
“Big Driver” is the story of a mystery writer named Tess who finds herself attacked and raped on her way home from a book signing. Obsessed, discovers the woman who arranged the book signing is in cahoots with the attacker, and goes after them in a move much like that Jodie Foster movie, “The Brave One” (which is referred to in the story quite a few times.) It’s a revenge story, and a riveting one.
The third story, “Fair Extension,” poses some interesting moral questions. For example, if you were dying of a terrible illness, and could make a deal to live an extra fifteen to twenty years, would you do it? Would you do it if it meant someone in your life – of your choosing – would have to take on your suffering? I’ll leave the rest up to you to read, but it’s a solid story and really makes you think. (Also, Stephen King fans, there’s a really great thread between this story and “It.” Namely, a little town called Derry and a flood that almost wiped it out.)
After these three great little novellas, “Full Dark, no Stars” closes on a high note. “A Good Marriage” is the story of a woman who realizes the man she’s been married to for decades might not be what he seems – in fact, he’s a serial killer. Again, I won’t spoil what the wife does, or the ending, except to say it’s a slightly upbeat ending to what has otherwise been a dark collection of tales. I’m not saying there are balloons and ballerinas and it’s like Candyland, but the ending gives you a little bit of hope that there are still good people out there in the human race.
Mr. King has always been interested in examining unlikely heroes and the ways they face down their demons (literal or figurative) and do good things despite terrible things happening to them, and “Full Dark, No Stars” delves into this. The stories are some of the most psychological King works I’ve ever read, and it’s truly a collection worth a read.
I’m just sorry I waited almost two years to read it!