Friday, December 16, 2011

Full Dark, No Stars

He's still the king, folks--Stephen King, that is, and in his latest short-story collection, he demonstrates why he's the master of the twisted and the bizarreFull Dark, No Stars consists of four novella-length stories, each of which is guaranteed to get under your skin. In the first, "1922," a farmer plots to murder his wife to prevent her from selling a land inheritance, and he even manipulates his teenaged son to help him. Yes, the evil deed is committed, but it most certainly does not go unpunished. Let's just say that if rats, real or imagined, give you the willies, you may want to skip this story. Next up is "Big Driver," in which King plays on every driver's worst nightmare: being stranded on an unfamiliar road. This time, a mystery writer on her way home from an author appearance finds herself with more than just car trouble when she suffers a flat tire and is offered "assistance" by a giant of a Good Samaritan. In "Fair Extension," a cancer patient in the last months of his life is granted a miraculous turnabout when he strikes a deal with a rather strange man who sells "fair extensions" for a "fair price." However, gaining an extra fifteen years of life doesn't come cheap, and you may be shocked at just who ultimately has to pay this so-called "fair price" and what that cost entails. In the final story, "A Good Marriage," a woman's nondescript marriage of more than twenty years unravels in the blink of an eye when she discovers that her husband has been hiding a horrific secret from her the entire time. Yes, Dear Reader, be careful if you poke around your husband's things when he's not around: you may not like what you find. All in all, King still knows how to tell a story, and he certainly knows how to take the ordinary and drop it on its head. Give Full Dark, No Stars a read. You won't be sorry...or then again, maybe you will.

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