The Dark Half
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In 1985, 39-year-old Stephen King announced in public that his pseudonymous alter ego, Richard Bachman, was dead. (Never mind that he revived him years later to write The Regulators.) At the beginning of The Dark Half, 39-year-old writer Thad Beaumont announces in public that his own pseudonym, George Stark, is dead.
Now, King didn't want to jettison the Bachman novel, titled Machine Dreams, that was he working on. So he incorporated it in The Dark Half as the crime oeuvre of George Stark, whose recurring hero/alter ego is an evil character named Alexis Machine.
Thad Beaumont's pseudonym is not so docile as Stephen King's, though, and George Stark bursts forth into reality. At that point, two stories kick into gear: a mystery-detective story about the crime spree of George Stark (or is it Alexis Machine?) and a horror story about Beaumont's struggle to catch up with his doppelganger and kill him dead.
This is not the first time that Stephen King has written a dark allegory about the fiction writer's situation. As the New York Times writes, Misery (1987) is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his audience, which holds him prisoner and dictates what he writes, on pain of death. The Dark Half is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his creative genius, the vampire within him, the part of him that only awakes to raise Cain when he writes, the fratricidal twin who occupies "the womblike dungeon" of his imagination." --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A writer of excellence...King is one of the most fertile storytellers of the modern novel (The Sunday Times)
King is unbeatable (Mirror)
Not since Dickens has a writer had so many readers by the throat...King's imagination is vast...one of the great storytellers of our time (Guardian) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's about an author who, as a child, suffered with bad headaches. On examination, the doctors find that he has a growth in his brain. When they go in to operate, they discover the growth is actually body parts of what can only have been his twin. Somehow they have started growing and so they are removed.
Years later, Thad Beaumont becomes a very successful writer. But the books he writes are beginning to get him down as they all tell tales of a pretty nasty character. As well received as these are, Thad decides to retire the character and move on to other, nicer stories.
The character, George Stark, isn't happy about this and decides to stop Thad. How is this possible you might well ask? Anything is possible in the safe hands of King.
Then begins a truly horrifying tale of good vs evil as Thad comes to realise that George isn't just a figment of his imagination. He will do anything to protect his wife and twins, and George will do anything to stay a part of this world....
The ending was very Stephen King; I did not really know how he was going to end it, and although it is not bad it could perhaps have been better. I know of other people who liked/hated the ends of others of his novels (The Stand - I personally had no problem with the ending there) so you may like it.
Overall if you are a King fan then this is worth reading, but if I was to make a short-list of his best books this would not be one of the ones at the top of the list, but probably in the middle. It is good if you don't want to read one of his genuine horror yarns though.
I think the premise behind The Dark Half is about as good as a horror novel can ever hope to have - a respected novelist with a wife, kids and a comfortable lifestyle in staid middle-class America who finds himself pursued and threatened by a violent alter ego who really shouldn't exist. I sense King had great fun with the idea himself and the result is a fantastically over the top homage to Jekyll and Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray on the one hand and the pulp EC Comics - notably the Tales from the Crypt series from the mid-1950s - on the other. The tag-line for the novel is 'George Stark. Not a very nice guy' and Stark's insane murder spree as he bumps off interfering cops, nosy journalists and literary publishers before targeting Thad and his wife is as accomplished and unpleasant a piece of pulp noir writing as you'll ever find. It's to the book's benefit that even though Stark is an abomination it's impossible not to have a sneaking admiration for him. He may have no right to exist but having crawled into reality from the dark-side of an author's imagination he's going to have a damn good stab at staying there.Read more ›
Another stand out point from previous novels I have read from King was the excessive gore used to describes the murders in the story. These however only manage to emphasise the scares and thrills contained in the plot.
For me it would undoubtedly have won a five star rating, if only the ending had been slightly more inspiring, but to be honest the rest of the book alone makes up for any slight let down.
Thad Beaumont is a normal writer, a man with a wife and children but something happened when he was a child, something that has not and will not happen again.
George Stark is the Author of such novels as Alexis Machine etc. and he pays Thad's bills.
Thad decides that George Stark is no good for him and needs to get him out of his life. How easy that will be, you will have to find out.
A brilliant book with many twists and turns along the way. Beautifully written as always and kept in the horrific context I have come to expect from this legendary thriller writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
why are stephens books only getting 4s these days?the dark half is a masterpiece of sheer brilliant,unnerving,horror writing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by tone
brilliant, stephen king can do no wrong where i'm concerned.Published 10 months ago by michael thring
excellent stories enjoyed everyone some bettrer than others but all very goodPublished 10 months ago by jcburke
I like Stephen King. He does what a popular writer is supposed to do: he writes gripping stories so well you just have to keep reading. Read morePublished 12 months ago by John Glover
I'm a big King fan and read this many years ago, but couldn't resist buying it again.Published 13 months ago by elaine