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