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Full Dark, No Stars Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144471256X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444712568
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, was also a bestseller. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Product Description

Amazon Review

As well as being the most celebrated horror and fantasy writer of the modern age, Stephen King is a noted commentator on the genre, and some of his most intriguing writing includes studies of his great predecessors. The first story in the mesmerising collection of novellas which is Full Dark, No Stars bears the imprint of one of King's favourite writers, Edgar Allen Poe: it is the first-person confession of a murderer, in which he invites us not to judge him -- not unlike the narrator of Poe’s ‘The Tell-tale Heart’. King's protagonist, an unlettered farmer, does not relate his gruesome story in an elegant fashion. But King, of course, as well as being adroit at chilling our blood, has few equals at finding the right voice for his characters, whatever background they come from. That is precisely what happens here, as the farmer, Wilfred James, tells us how he planned the murder of his unsympathetic wife with the aid of his reluctance son. The murder itself has all the typical King flair for the macabre, but it is the steady unravelling of the killer’s plans that fascinates here – a theme that reappears in a grim tale involving a young woman's revenge on a man who raped her. As always with King's novellas, characterisation is strongly to the fore in these pieces, but the principle appeal of this form for the author would appear to be the opportunity to exercise his steely grasp of narrative technique, displayed in all the stories on offer here.

These King novellas are perhaps something of a relaxation for the author after the massive The Dome; for readers, Full Dark, No Stars is a reminder that this is a writer for whom both long and short formats are firmly in his grasp.

Some years ago, Stephen King announced that he was planning to cut down on his astonishing level of productivity, but this promise was barely kept (even a grim car accident was weathered – albeit with a heavy price paid – by the author), and though the exalted standard of the early books has faltered at times, he still has the knack of pulling that rabbit out of the hat (usually covered with blood). --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Fine stories to take with us into the night (Neil Gaiman in the Guardian)

An extraordinary collection, thrillingly merciless and a career high point (Matt Thorne in the )

America's greatest living novelist (Lee Child)

Mr. King's gift of storytelling is unrivaled. His ferocious imagination is unlimited (George Pelecanos)

The genius of King is not the fecundity of his imagination, great though it is, but the empathy he can create between the reader and a character . . . He is . . . not a national, but global treasure . . . just buy the book. Trust me, you won't be disappointed (Scotsman)

The collection's story stand-out story is the final novella . . . resembles Hitchcock's Suspicion with extra turns of the screw. (The Sunday Times)

offers striking reminders of King's mastery of structure . . . compulsively readable (Private Eye)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By henryhunter on 22 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was a huge fan of King's books growing up, but somewhere around 'Dreamcatcher' and 'Rose Madder' I gave up. This was recommended by several people and critics and was heralded as a return to form, with some saying King was having a renaissance in his later years. I'd say that's true.
These four novellas revolve around death, murder, guilt, revenge and redemption and only the third story (the weakest in my opinion) hints at anything supernatural. The strength of the other stories comes from the characters and the way their minds wrestle with their actions or events that unfold. He's always been very good at winning the reader over with a warm and inviting voice (think of 'Red' from 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption') that can charm you whilst simultaneously pulling you further and further into a dark and twisted world. It has to be said, at times this book is incredibly grisly and graphic, with vivd images of decaying corpses and monstrous crimes dancing around your head long after you've stopped reading. I think King may've been inspired by some of Cormac McCarthy's work when writing the first tale, "1922". It's by no means in the same league but there's an undeniable feel of darkness that's reminiscent of 'Child of God'.
As I mentioned, the third of the four is the weakest and it jarred against the sustained tension and pace of the others. It's a shame as overall it's some of the best work he's ever done. If you like horror but have grown weary of werewolves and vampires, then this will keep you entertained and reinstill some faith in one of the best mainstream writers of our time.
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104 of 111 people found the following review helpful By amymdev on 1 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
King himself calls these stories "harsh" and indeed, I cannot think of a better word to describe them. Not easy reading by any means, but an excellent, riveting read. I was hooked from start to finish but had a few sleepless nights in the process (as I couldn't put book down, and when I did it was not easy to get the stories out of my head!).

A thought provoking book that delves into the darker side of life. If you have never read a Stephen King book before, I would perhaps suggest you do not start with this, as it is one of the darkest books of his I have read, but die hard King fans should really enjoy it.

One more point, I do not understand why people put spoilers on here?! I am glad I did not read these reviews before I read the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one of Stephen King's "constant readers" I was delighted to discover this collection of four extremely dark tales.

The title is very well chosen - there is hardly any light shining in this "voyage into the heart of darkness", therefore you should be ready for the very tough stuff, even harder and darker than the rest of King's works. Here, evil is everywhere and it leaves a mark even on the good people - and sometimes swallows them whole.

The first story, "1922", is the longest, the darkest, the hardest - and the best! Without providing too much spoilers let's just say that it describes a troubled family of farmers from Nebraska who, in 1922, find themselves in financial and personal troubles - and something must be done about it... It is a "crime and punishment" story, described in a very King'ish style, with just a very slight (but masterly applied) touch of Lovecraftian atmosphere in the second part. I was deeply shocked but also very very impressed by this story and I count it amongst the best things Stephen King's ever wrote!

The second story, "Big Driver", is not as excellent as the first one, but it is still a very honest read. This one is also a "crime and punishment" story, but here the word "punishment" should be in fact understood as "revenge" or "vigilante justice". The main hero here is a woman who was victim of a terrible crime and who, at the peril of her life, wants retribution... A very dramatic story, well written, with a great lot of unexpected twists.

The third story, "Fair extension", is a retelling of a Faustian deal with the Devil.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HeavyMetalManitou VINE VOICE on 9 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's difficult to give this collection of stories a star rating. It'd be easier to rate each of its five tales individually, as I enjoyed them differently. A couple ('1922' and 'Fair Extension') were marginally above average in terms of originality, but written with King's distinctive passion for the macabre. The former failed to stir up in me the horror that Stephen King presumably aimed to arouse in readers. The reason for this failure: the story relies almost exclusively on readers' fear of rats to drive home its emotional horror. I have no fear of furry creatures large or small; I find them cute. The tale does include some incisive observations of how humans behave under pressure. This kept me turning the pages, even though the story could have been improved by cutting its length. 'Fair Extension', on the other hand, was eminently readable from start to finish, and loaded with King's blackest humour. It's not an original story (a modern take on the Faustian deal), but the author throws in enough new details to make the upgrade effective. 'Big Driver' is an edge-of-the-seat tale of redemption told from a woman's perspective. Rich in originality, full of tension and containing beautifully fleshed out characters, it is the book's standout piece of work. 'A Good Marriage' delves into the question of how a wife might react if she discovers that her husband of several decades - the father of her children - is not the man he claims to be. It's well written and eminently satisfying in its conclusion. The bonus story - 'Under the Weather' - is short and sweet (in a sick way).

All in all, an impressive collection. Don't be afraid of the dark. Delve in.
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