In his latest collection of never-before-published stories, Stephen King proves once again that he has no equal at delivering chills.
Full Dark, No Stars is an omnibus of four dark tales of retribution by Stephen King.
In “1922”, dedicated Nebraska farmer, Wilf James, murders his wife, Arlette, when she threatens to sell her portion of the family farm to buy a dress shop in Omaha. He involves his 14-year-old son, and, though they get away with murder, Arlette never really seems to leave and life goes downhill from that moment on. 4/5
In “Big Driver”, mystery novelist Tessa Jean takes a shortcut home from a book-club engagement with almost fatal consequences. Although frightened of her attacker, Tess refuses to let things lie: the New Tess uses the Old Tess’s skills as a crime-writer to exact revenge. This tale has a very strong female lead character: I really enjoyed her inner monologue and I found it “edge of the seat” reading. 5/5
In “Fair Extension”, cancer-ridden Dave Streeter makes a deal with a man selling all sorts of extensions, George Elvid (that’s right, rearrange the letters) for a life extension. His cancer disappears, but a price has to be paid: it turns out that Elvid wants more than mere money. A reflection on the “fairness” of life. 4/5
In “A Good Marriage” , Darcy Anderson accidentally stumbles on something that has her questioning just how well she really knows her husband of twenty years. Her neat, clean, organised husband, the father of her children, appears to have a dark secret, a terrifying pastime she has never suspected, something that will irrevocably change her life and that of her children if it becomes known. Another strong female character. 5/5
Plot, characters and their interaction are all things in which King is the expert. His characters are ordinary people in extraordinary situations and King explores how they act and react. His natural dialogue has the voices speaking in the reader’s head. Black humour ensures plenty of laughs. Horror is another thing that King excels at, and the horrors in these tales include rats, rape, murder, decaying corpses, disease, torture and madness. Scary too, is how people will justify their actions. In each story, the characters feel a change come over them, as if a stranger inside them has taken over. For Wilf it is the Conniving Man; for Tess, the New Tess; for Dave it is someone inside him who has held a grudge since grammar school; and for Darcy it is the Dark Wife within, for Bob, the ghost of his childhood friend, BD. King skilfully builds the tension so that the stories are real page-turners. These four stories prove, once again, that King is the master of the long dark tale.