Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Cover of "Full Dark, No Stars"
Cover of Full Dark, No Stars

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Traci Kenworth

 

Scribner 2010 Short Story Collection-Horror

  1. 1922

Hook: April 11, 1930.

A confession by Wilifred Leland James. He murdered his wife in June of 1922. His son, Henry, at 14, aided him although he beat fear into him over a two month period. All over farmland. Hears things in walls. This was a chilling and at times sympathetic story over a man trying to keep what is his.

  1. Big Driver

Hook: Tess accepted twelve compensated engagements a year, if she could get them. She writes books. This is her retirement fund. She takes a shortcut home thanks to the librarian. Trouble comes in the form of wood sprawled across the road and a giant of a man. Oh, this was a hard story for me to read. It was full of such heartache, pain, and the thirst for revenge. Brutal in tone, Tess is a survivor and deals with the situation the way many women perhaps wish they could deal with their attacker. She had me rooting for her all the way through and it was a satisfying conclusion.

  1. Fair Extension

Hook: Streeter only saw the sign because he had to pull over and puke. Diagnosed with cancer, he lives in Derry, and is a banker. In return for 15% for 15 years, possibly more, he buys a life extension from a guy alongside the road. The catch? Bad luck goes to enemy. He chooses to cast everything his best friend’s way because Tom and Streeter’s girlfriend fell in love when they were in high school and married. This was my least favorite of the stories written. Maybe it’s because Dave Streeter doesn’t really see what he’s got to be thankful for (a nice wife, great kids, good career). Instead, he pines for what he doesn’t have. Even in the ending, he shows no remorse for what he’s done.

  1. A Good Marriage

Hook: The one thing nobody asked in casual conversation Darcy thought in the days after what she found what she found in the garage, was this: How’s your marriage? Darcy’s life is happy until she discovers her husband’s a serial killer and rapist named Beadie. He claims that he’s haunted by his boyhood friend who died when he was a teen. Darcy struggles to decide what to do: turn her back on her husband or unveil his deeds. King really digs into the story here and shows what someone like Beadie’s other life might really be. It was haunting and gruesome and yet surprisingly had a heart to it you wouldn’t think it would.

This collection was everything a fan of Stephen King could want, maybe more. King always tells a fascinating tale and gets down to the nitty-gritty of things which is what I personally think makes him such a great writer. He knows people. And isn’t that the greatest compliment a writer can have? In his Afterword, he explains why he writes the stories he does and what he thinks makes a bad writer: someone who refuses to look the truth of the story in the eye and tell it for what it is. King has proven time and again that he’s unflinching in his portrayal of people and their humanness. We might not like what we see when the scab is ripped off, but we know that in doing so, he’s exposing all the pus beneath. Life isn’t always sweet. Sometimes it’s painful, heartbreaking, and unfair. How we each respond to that is different, unique. It’s what makes the tale true and the storyteller genuine. I heartily recommend this collection to all King fans and to anyone who loves to see the truth behind the mask of life.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

  1. I’m sure you would, Misha. He doesn’t just write horror either. He has a short story collection out called The Different Seasons which contained “The Body,” inspiration behind the film Stand By Me.

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  2. I haven’t read a Stephen King novel since I was a teen. Maybe it’s time I pick up one again.

    Thanks, Traci, for the great review. And that’s for the summary of what he thinks makes a great writer. I’d never thought of it that way.

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  3. I think I’m going to check one of his books out. I don’t care for horror but I do love to examine humanity/nature, etc and think I’d like the depth of his writing. Thanks for the low-down! I hope you’re feeling better…

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