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Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars

So I thought I posted this last Wednesday, but it appears that it posted for the date I started the draft, which means none of you got to see it!  So here it is 🙂

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I grew up watching horror and sci-fi. In fact, when I visit home, my mother still primarily watches the Sy-fy channel, despite the fact that they air the same low budget films over and over again. Stephen King movies were always a big deal growing up, especially those mini-series ones they liked to do (Rose Red was awesome!). In fact, my mother doesn’t read much, but when she does, it’s always one of his books. Thanks to her, I too have a deep fascination with his work.

While I typically love his obnoxiously long novels, he’s also renown for his story stories. In fact, if you listen to the audiobook of Just After Sunset, another series of his short stories, he even says that he often prefers them. That they give the chance to be creative in ways novels do not. So I decided I wanted to give more of his short stories a try.

Full Dark, No Stars is one of the few books I have bought full price at the actual honest to goodness bookstore in the past year. Many of my current unread books I found at used bookstores, community book sales, or library book sales. (Sidenote: I strongly urge you to devote some time to a used book sale at some point in the next year… there always seem to be treasures waiting to be found.)

Goodreads Summary:

“A new collection of four never-before-published stories from Stephen King.

1922
The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father.

Big Driver
Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.

Fair Extension
Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay.

A Good Marriage
Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage. –www.stephenking.com

Not long after buying this book, I left for a 10 day beach vacation. It was one of several books I brought along, thinking that the short stories would be great for such an occasion. I only ended up reading the first story while there, because we found a great used bookstore and I bought like 20 more books (I wish that were an exaggeration).

Holy cow was “1922” a dark story. His always are, but not being used to his short stories, it hit me like a train. It was a standard story, about a man and his son who kill their wife/mother and all the strings and hauntings that come along with it. But the darkness was in the details. The graphic descriptions were a little hard to stomach, even sitting on a sunny beach.

When I got back home, the book got put on the shelf in lieu of the other books I had just bought. That’s the nice thing about a book of short stories, you can stop at a certain point, pick it back up later, and not worry about if you forgot anything. Several weeks ago, however, I realized that I was missing my Doctor Who bookmark, found it in the book, and thus started reading again.

If I thought “1922” was dark, “Big Driver” was about ten times worse. Given that I do a lot of my reading at night before bed, I’m truthfully surprised I didn’t have nightmares about this story. There was so much truth to it, with only a little bit of the fantastical, that it really could have happened, and it took me a while to read.

I wasn’t really impressed with “Fair Extension”.  Sure, King added a small twist and took it to extremes as per his usual, but beyond that it was the typical sell-your-soul-to-the-devil kind of story.  I almost felt as though he used it to raise the reader’s spirits after the darkness of “Big Driver”.

“A Good Marriage” was interesting, and raised the question of whether or not we truly know the people we decide to spend the rest of our lives with.  How often do we hear about something terrible a person did in the news, and their spouse denies knowing anything about it?  How often do we say “There’s no way they didn’t know” when that happens?  I can’t say this story was particularly dark, at least not like the first two, but it really made you think.

My book also contained an extra story, called “Under The Weather”.  I couldn’t find this version on Goodreads, which is why it’s not listed in the summary.  The basic plot is that a man’s wife has been very sick, and in the mean time the apartment building has been having an issue with a dead animal smell coming from one of the apartments.  This one seemed more like King’s twisted style, and looking back I wish he would have expanded on this story and thrown “Fair Extension” out the window.  It took me almost until the end of the story to realize what was going on.

So, what is my overall feeling about the book?  I enjoyed it, but I think I’ll stick to his longer novels.  I enjoy King’s darker side, and while they were tough to stomach, “1922” and “Big Driver” were probably my favorite stories in the book.  I think Full Dark, No Stars would be great for anyone who wanted to read a Stephen King book without diving into one of his “tomes” (that’s what I like to call them, haha) like Duma Key or Under the Dome.  Definitely get the version with “Under The Weather” in it if you can.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars

  1. BiblioJesso January 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the review!

    Like

  2. myria101 January 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Great review! I have a lot of Stephen King books on my Nook that I have yet to read. I’m hoping to read at least one of them this year. I have never read anything by him, only saw the movies.

    Like

    • bookjunkiekrystal January 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks! I’m learning as I go with writing these reviews… I think this one is a little better than my first, haha. Oh boy, which ones do you have?? I really prefer most of his more recent stuff over the old. I just bought his new one, Doctor Sleep, but it’s been so long since reading The Shining that I need to reread that first.

      Like

      • emb327 January 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        I think you did post this earlier, because I remember reading it before. Then, when you said that you were going to review it, I looked, but couldn’t find it. Glad you posted it again, it makes me want to try reading Stephen King again.

        Like

        • bookjunkiekrystal January 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

          Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out the whole “save draft” versus “publish” thing. When I got on my page earlier today, I didn’t see it as my last post, and that was when I realized the date somehow got messed up. I’ll figure it out eventually!! Glad to hear you liked it and thanks for the feedback! Definitely let me know if you decide to pick SK up again 🙂

          Like

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