Title: Full Dark, No Stars
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 468
“Is it possible to ever fully know anyone? Even those we love the most?” So starts this collection of novella-length stories, and I have to say – it’s a cracker. In fact, this is easily my favourite collection of multiple Stephen King stories, and way better than Just After Sunset, which I recently read. And the cool thing is, because there were only five stories here, I can talk in-depth about each one.
It started off with my favourite of the lot, a piece called 1922 which follows the story of a farmer who kills his wife to stop her from selling her family’s land to a corporation. The farmer and his son end up in a downward spiral, with life getting worse and worse. The father even starts to see rats everywhere, while the boy is trying to hide the family secret while starting up a relationship with a neighbouring girl. It’s beautifully written and deeply haunting, and probably my favourite Stephen King story to date.
Up next, we have a story called Big Driver, which follows the story of an author who’s raped in an abandoned convenience store and who goes after the man who did it to her. She goes from being like Miss Marple to being like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Then there’s Fair Extension, a story about a man with cancer who makes a deal with a man who’s able to sell you extensions, whether we’re talking about a penis extension, a loan extension or, indeed, a life extension. But of course, a deal like that comes with a cost…
Up next, there’s A Good Marriage, which tells the story of what happens when a woman finds a box that her husband has kept secret and which makes her start to wonder whether the man she’s loved all these years is actually a serial killer.
This is the point at which the initial print run of this book came to an end, but here there’s an extra short called Under the Weather. The other ‘short stories’ in this book are actually not so short, but this one really does stick to the true spirit of how long a short story, culturally at least, is expected to be. Interestingly enough, it’s also the weakest story of the lot, although it’s still pretty good because come on, it’s Stephen King.
Overall then, this is a pretty good place to start, not just with King’s shorter fiction but with King in general. It’s dark, and I should offer up that most nebulous of things – a trigger warning. It gets pretty violent, and you might want to bear that in mind before you commit.