Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review: "Full Dark, No Stars" by Stephen King

Good things, when short, are twice as good. ~Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Sometimes when I’m perusing the books at Costco, I see the hardback copy of Stephen King’s mammoth novel Under The Dome and I think to myself, “Maybe… maybe…” And then I pick it up.

I’m sorry, 1000+ pages is just too many and unfortunately reminds me of the giant tomes from the 1980s (The Tommyknockers, IT, and their ilk) that turned me off to King for at least a decade. Recently though, when I was considering what was going to be my next audiobook, I opted for his most recent novella collection Full Dark, No Stars and am glad that I did.

After listening to these stories – each one of them gripping and creepy– I want to ask King why he doesn’t explore the novella form more often, because clearly he’s great at it (think of The Body, Shawshank Redemption, Secret Window Secret Garden, Apt Pupil).

The four stories in this collection focus on revenge and retribution and represent a very human (rather than supernatural) exploration of the impulses and consequences around these driving forces. I won’t give away any spoilers or go into the details other than that each story had its gut-dropping moments – some that you can see coming and others that come as an (un)pleasant surprise.

Highly recommended 4 stars out of 5


Budd said...

I always thought he was a better short form writer. The exceptions being Salem's lot, pet semetary, and the stand. I just finished cell and while good it wasn't great.

SteveB said...

There were parts of "Pet Semetary" that might have been the most chilling things I've read -- but yes, I agree -- I think King can really shine in the short forms.

I've picked up and put down "Cell" a half-dozen times. I read "Duma Key" during a beach vacation a couple summers ago -- not a great book, but the perfect read for that venue!

Kal said...

I got a King book every Christmas so I like his work. I agree with you that his shorter stories are so much better than his longer tales these days.