I know, I know, I am once again late to the party. But, in my defence, I am an absolute wimp, and so I shy away from horror, or anything remotely scary. And yet, after watching Under The Dome on Amazon Prime, I thought, maybe Stephen King isn’t so terrifying after all, and picked up the whopper of a hardcover. And so marked my journey into the many worlds of Stephen King.
I had actually read novels by Joe Hill – his son – previously. But a) I didn’t know who Joe Hill was at the time, and b) I’d heard the adaptation of Horns would be starring my beloved Daniel Radcliffe, who was Harry Potter for fuck sake, so how scary could it be? So I ventured in half-blind. Joe Hill certainly knows how to scare the shit out of you. Horns was incredible, NOS4R2 was creepy, and Heart-Shaped Box was absolutely nuts. And I loved all three of them.
But back to Stephen King. Under The Dome was, quite frankly, a disappointment. I readily admit that the TV show is much better. So I quickly moved on to ‘Salem’s Lot, on the recommendation of a friend. Let me tell you, it’s difficult to venture into King without any idea of what you expect to get from his books, as there are so bloody many of them. So I went with the recommendation, and was, once again, slightly disappointed. It was creepy, but nothing nightmare-inducing. And, being the wimp that I am, it doesn’t take a lot to create shapes in the shadows of my darkened bedroom. So I sighed, read some other genres, then ventured tentatively back. To Misery.
The idea to read Misery seized me one bright Saturday morning. It was 8am, the cat had woken me up, and Misery was on my mind. I woke my partner, told him to help me find my Misery, dug it out from one of my many shelves, and delved in. While my partner played Red Dead Redemption, I was steeped in Misery, and didn’t emerge again until Sunday evening. Finally! I thought. The first Stephen King novel to really grab me. It had everything I look for in a novel, and I couldn’t wait for more of the same. And so I bought Doctor Sleep.
Now, I haven’t read The Shining (yet, it’s on my list), but I watched the film several years ago, and surely everyone knows the story well enough? And I’d heard that it wasn’t really a sequel, and so I could feel free to read it without having read The Shining first. It worked out okay. I remembered enough to piece things together, and Doctor Sleep really does stand up on its own. A completely absorbing story, it’s probably my favourite King novel so far.
After Doctor Sleep, I was feeling restless. I had come to the end of my Stephen King pile. I jumped from book to book, historical fiction to fantasy and back again, running out of bookmarks and space on my bedside table. I wanted more. So, while wandering past a local bookshop, I spotted two battered paperbacks – Christine and Needful Things – for 90p each. And so I hopped into Christine.
Although I only gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, I still enjoyed Christine. It just dragged on a bit, which I’ve heard Stephen King is wont to do. I felt like they could have crushed Christine a good 200 pages back, and the epilogue was like a stream of constant delay. Maybe that was the goal – to stop you from escaping Christine until she absolutely had to let you go. Or maybe I’m being forgiving (and obsessive).
I turned the last page of Christine only last night. Needful Things is still on my shelf, but Pet Semetary turned up yesterday, and I’m expecting It and The Shining any day now. So I guess you could say I’m spoiled for choice.
if you have any other recommendations, or would like to discuss your favourite King book, drop me a comment below!