Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Stephen King, but not horror. Not completely, anyway. If you're a fan of the man's work, this is closest in form and style to Different Seasons. Four novellas with just the barest touch of the supernatural.

All four are about retribution. The first book "1922" is about rural murder, guilt and madness. And rats. The second - "Big Farmer" - concerns rape and revenge. The third is "Fair Extension" about envy and a pact with the devil. "A Good Marriage" is probably the one I enjoyed most, about a woman who makes an unfortunate discovery about her husband.

All really enjoyable, and all very different. You can still tell it's King, largely because of the multiple voices for the protagonist, and the repeated phrases which become motifs, but he reins it in well here. What I really liked about the stories was the lack of twist, which is refreshing in suspense tales. The endings are all satisfying and never seem like a quick fix or cheap thrill.

I didn't enjoy it as much as Different Seasons, or the Bachman Books (less pulpy than Bachman, incidentally), but that's possibly just age. Reading Apt Pupil or Rage when you're a teenager makes a big impression. But it's certainly his best work since......oh, Hearts in Atlantis probably. Although I've just checked, and I haven't read Lisey's Story or Cell. And this book's at the other end of the spectrum from his Dark Tower stuff, although there are at least two references to It, so clearly King can't help tying all his work together.

A book on tape, and as usually happens I've just finished a paper book at the same time - Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds, so I'll need to knock off that review before I forget what happened. Now listening to The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (geopolitics, rather than sci-fi) and finishing off Booky Wook 2. But I'm off to Barcelona tomorrow, so I'll need to dig out some holiday reading.


McK said...

100% agree that it's his best since Atlantis (obviously discounting Dark Tower business, (which Wikipedia has just told me he's doing another(are nested brackets bad grammar?))), my favourite by an old country mile is the first one; a brilliant degeneration of the mind. Now somebody needs to call Frank Darabont and get the movies under way...

Joe said...

Some depressing reading on wikipedia there. King turned down Darabont for the Dark Tower, and has instead signed up the Da Vinci Code combo of Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman.