So as I bounced back and forth about what I wanted to read next, I decided it was time to pick up another Stephen King collection. Short stories can be strange things, and collections of them can be just as odd. They either work together or they don’t, and some stories can be hits, while others just leave you longing for the end of the page.
For the first time in a long time, I was left a little underwhelmed by King, that’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic stories in here, in fact, I think one of my new favorites is among them, I think it just means that I wanted a little more scare, or dread for my dollar, and didn’t feel like I got it this time.
A collection of 13 stories, and my new favorite will tell you that is not a good number, it moves from ghost stories to tales of revenge to disaster to Lovecraftian horror (can you tell which one rang my bell?).
The pair of ghost stories, Willa and The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates, are actually rather poignant and lovely, and provide some nice emotional anchors for the rest of the tales, all of which, seem, in some way to deal with loss.
My favorite of the bunch though is N. and though I didn’t read King’s liner notes at the end of the book, this one feels very much like delving into Lovecraft territories with madness, the Old Ones, and a healthy dose of developing OCD thrown in to the mix.
The Cat From Hell could have been enjoyable, but it was written in 1977, and adapted for the Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, so I was really familiar with it already, and it pushed me out of the collection a little.
Stationary Bike is a freaky little tale which needs to be read instead of explained, and poignancy is found again with the touching The Things They Left Behind.
It is, by all accounts, a solid collection, but it’s not one of those ones that gets under your skin, has you slightly nervous to look out your window in case you see some Thing on the other side staring back in at you, and makes you read it with your back to the wall…
Instead it’s a rather soft (in a good way) collection of tales, that dance along the edge of the supernatural, the mysterious, and the horrific, while not quite jumping into the deep end of things.
With the exception of N. of course, that one plays incredibly well, and is very, delightfully, unnerving.
In the end, it’s another fine collection from an author that has scared and delighted readers for decades now, and, as always, makes me yearn for a big scary book to sink my fangs into…
What are you reading this week?