Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

So I was gonna say I haven’t read much Stephen King lately, which is technically true, but then I realized that this is my third King book this year! Is it possible I’m coming around to King again, after many many years away? I think it might be.

I had heard of this book but wasn’t interested in picking it up, because it’s newer and I have this prejudice against “new King” that I picked up around the time I read and was greatly disappointed by Cell. I was like, King has stopped being creepy and spooky and interesting and is instead some crotchety old man and pfft whatever. This may not be a correct assumption on my part, but it’s stuck, and so when I saw that this was next up for my book club, I was equal parts “ohhhhh this is going to suck” and “hey, maybe it won’t be so bad.”

And it wasn’t so bad! In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite books out of King, and it is definitely my favorite of his collections (of which I have read not very many). There are four novellas included, though one is like forty pages and seems a little short for that category, and I found all of them to be awesome. And even better, I found all of them to fit in with each other in some way or other, which is a fun thing in a collection β€” I learned from this one that King has a thing against librarians, a thing for biting, a thing for people getting away with murder, and a thing for making me think a story will go one way and then totally not doing that. Fantastic.

I don’t want to say too much about the stories proper, because they are short and I found that the descriptions I read after the fact just did not live up to the stories themselves and I don’t want to fail you guys! But if you need something to get you started, I’d summarize the stories as follows: 1922 is a rambling confession letter, Big Driver is the story of an author’s trip gone horribly terribly wrong (and then horribly terribly wronger), Fair Extension offers up an interesting way to deal with cancer, and A Good Marriage is about, well, a good marriage that’s suddenly not.

Oh, I should also mention that there is rather a lot of violence and horribleness, especially in Big Driver, and so if you are not inclined to appreciate or tolerate such things, I would recommend against this collection. I have to admit I almost quit Big Driver more than once, and at least one person in my book club did give up on it. But in general I don’t think it’s too much worse than Misery, if that gives you a reference point.

Recommendation: For fans of awful things that aren’t happening to themselves and awful people they hope they’ll never meet.

Rating: 9/10
(RIP Challenge)

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7 thoughts on “Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

  1. Beth says:

    I am hoping King's portrayal of a librarian is at least not of a grayed haired lady who says “ssshhh” a lot. Anything is better than that.

  2. Alison says:

    Haha, I don't know if King really has something against librarians, but he certainly puts them into… interesting situations in a couple of these stories. I'm not sure that's better than stereotyping them!

  3. Steph says:

    Can you believe that I've never read anything by Stephen King? When I was growing up, my dad loved his books but they were always forbidden to me and because I was a dutiful daughter, I avoided them.

    BUT, when some friends were moving away, they had a bunch of books they wanted to give away and one of them was the super edition of The Stand. So I took that and started to read it, but it is so long so who knows if I will ever finish it! I may have been too ambitious on my first King outing…

  4. Alison says:

    Steph β€” Whaaaaaaaat? I'm not sure I would start with one of his doorstops, no. πŸ™‚ Find one that's, like, less than 400 pages and start there! This collection might even be a good place to start, because none of the stories are longer than 150 pages, and the shortest is 40-ish.

  5. Cari says:

    I noticed the librarian thing in this book too! But I liked it anyway. Weird, but OK. He has a librarian character in his new book, too, and she is the love interest. I wonder what the obsession is? Beth and I should do a podcast on librarian characters in books. Unless we've already done that, which is a good possibility. Anyway, I'm glad you liked this one, since it was one of my favorites. Lisey's Story is on my TBR, and I'm having a tough time with it.

  6. Alison says:

    Cari β€” At least she's not a person of interest! (See what I did there? I'm funny!) And you should totally do a librarian character podcast, even if you've done one before. πŸ™‚ I'll help you do the research!

    And oh my goodness TBR… I'm so behind on that, but I just picked up a couple of the books on my list and they turned out to be surprisingly short β€” one is even a kids book and less than 100 pages! Win!

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