Friday, 3 June 2011

Full Dark, No Stars By Stephen King

'I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger...' writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting murder confession that makes up '1922', the first in this pitch black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. For country-loving James, that stranger is awakened when his wife proposes selling off the family farm in isolated rural Nebraska and moving to the city of Omaha...
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In 'Big Driver', a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters a stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess draws on her skills as a crime writer to plot a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.
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In the darkly amusing 'Fair Extension', cancer-ridden Harry Streeter makes a deal with a man selling all sorts of extensions - mortgage extensions, loan extensions and in his case, a life extension. But for every extension there's a price.
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In the final story, 'A Good Marriage', Stephen King poses the question: is it possible to fully know anyone, even those we love the most? When her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers an object containing her husband's dark and terrifying secrets. What would you do if the man who keeps his nails short and clean isn't the man you think he is? And now he's heading home.
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With a fascinating afterword in which Stephen King describes the inspiration behind each story, Full Dark, No Stars contains close-up portraits which bristle with intensity. Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight - which generated such enduring hit films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me - Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.
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Now these are the kind of horror stories that get right under your skin and linger. What makes them so terrifying is that they really explore the disturbing and dark side of human nature by stripping away that security blanket and letting lose the horrors of what people can be capable of. They definitely sent a shiver down my spine!
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'Good Marriage' is the one that left me the most uneasy and yet I could not stop reading it. It was fascinating and I think the reason was because it could truly happen to anybody in real life. I'm not sure that everybody would react in the same way as the wife does but we wouldn't really know unless we were actually put in that situation and that's the scary part.
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'1922' was the most gruesome and very creepy. It is set on an isolated farm with the surrounding corn fields with gives it that instant chilling atmosphere with the creaking farmhouse and the rustle of the corn leaves as the wind sweeps through it. Also, after reading this I would be very happy if I never saw a rat in my life.
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'Fair Extension' was the shortest of the four but was still brutal in its unrelenting quest to discover the shadows that lurk in every bodies mind. It was quite a straightforward story and yet the ending was unexpected because you usually think that evil will get its comeuppance in the end but here we find that isn't the case when you make a deal with the devil.
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'Big Driver' was the most graphic of the four. It deals with the afterthoughts and actions of a woman that has been attacked and left for dead and takes a compelling twist when she decides to seek revenge. I was amazed at how well King can write from a female perspective in this one.
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King takes the things that people really fear deep down and uses them to weave four chilling and creepy stories. He takes safe, secure and light lives and sends a bulldozer crashing though the middle of them to uncover the furthest darkest corners and invites that darkness into the open. These four stories will leave you wondering on the concepts of justice, safety and rationality and what really lurks in the depths of the human mind. This is a book I would absolutely recommend to any King fans.
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Random Passage: Here is something I learned in 1922: there are always worse things waiting. You think you have seen the most terrible thing, the one that coalesces all your nightmares into a freakish horror that actually exists, and the only conclusion is that there can be nothing worse. Even if there is, your mind will snap at the sight of it, and you will know no more. But there is worse, your mind does not snap, and somehow you carry on. You might understand that all the joy has gone out of the world for you, that what you did has put all you hoped to gain out of your reach, you might wish you were the one who was dead - but you go on. You realize that you are in a hell of your own making, but you go on nevertheless. Because there is nothing else to do.

2 comments:

mummazappa said...

I think some of SK's novella length stories are his best work, and this was a great collection. I agree, definitely one for fans.

The Library Owl said...

I have to agree! Even though they were shorter than your average stories they were still able to terrify me and they all felt (well, except for maybe Fair Extension) like they were complete. They didn't feel like short stories at all, if that makes any sense?