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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2004
I read this a few years ago and the story has managed to stay pretty well intact in my mind. That shows that this is a good story.
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....
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on 25 August 2015
I recently read this on holiday, having had it amongst a plethora of SK books that I now seldom get time to read! Whilst it wasn't one of his best books in my opinion (my favourites are The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Stand, On Writing) this was a good thriller. It is rather more gory than some of his works, and rather than being a horror book it is definitely more of a thriller than a chiller, so to speak. Keeping the book to around 500 pages was a good idea, as I feel that it warranted this length, but no more. The characters are well developed, and George Stark is a great villain; you'll take an odd pleasure in reading details of his barbarous exploits. Sheriff Pangbourn is also a good character, and the two main characters are certainly decent enough.

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.
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The Dark Half is, appropriately enough given its subject matter, one of those novels where the author's life and the author's work overlap. Stephen King published a few early books under the name Richard Bachman and then, when the secret was out, he 'retired' Bachman from service. In The Dark Half novelist Thad Beaumont publishes literary works under his own name and violent pulp thrillers under the name George Stark. When a needy lowlife stumbles across the secret Thad decides to kill Stark off anyway and avoid the possibility of blackmail but the trouble is Stark refuses to stay dead.

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.

I'd argue that King has written deeper and more complex novels (It, The Stand and The Shining to name but three) but he hasn't written many in possession of a greater narrative drive than The Dark Half. George Stark is a terrific creation - there's something almost Terminator-like about his ability to target and take-out his victims - and the way he physically decays over time is a nice touch and a great means of adding another layer of visceral horror to the story. Similarly the way King has his lead characters investigate the nature of fiction, the weaving of fact and experience into stories and the means by which the process of writing is carried out from initial idea to final draft is fascinating. It's a good book about an individual nightmare made manifest. George Stark. Not a nice guy .... You can say that again.
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on 4 March 2005
I have read a large number of Stephen King books and am yet to find a disappointing title. The Dark Half was excellent in the way King manages to base a story around such a small amount of characters yet still engages the reader from start to finish.
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.
joe hindley
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on 13 February 2013
Oh how right Thad Beaumont was, if he had known how right he was maybe he would have helped himself and the people who helped Stark's writing career end.

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.
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on 25 August 2010
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. And I like the fact that he deals with contemporary America in a mythologising but totally realistic way - he is the Spielberg of the novel. More than that, the plot of this book is tight, simple, and memorable. Any sub-plots are kept that way - just sub-plots - so there are no silly diversions. I found the ending a little obvious as it approached, but even so, I wanted to be there to see it happen! A great story from one of the best living writers.
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on 24 July 2014
I thought this book was pretty good good story line easy to follow. it kept me read in til the end. worth the read in any circumstance wether you like stephen king or not. defo would give this book rating 5 :-) hatchery wachey
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on 2 June 2013
I find Stephen King's books to be a hit and miss. Some of his books are brilliant, others are boring. I find this book to be a mixture. It id gripping and has its suspense but that only comes once every so often and the rest of the book is a drag and I ended up speed reading to get it done. The short story Secret Window is much better and has a very similar story. Try that instead.
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on 29 November 1999
Written shortly after Stephen King revealed his own alter-ego, The Dark-Half takes the pseudonym author idea to the worst possible case scenario! What would you do if your alter-ego came to life and started killing everyone close to you in a desperate bid to make you write the book which would save his soul. A great yarn and a wonderfully abstract view of the heart of schizophrenia. Read it and see for yourself.
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on 30 October 2012
I have to say that this is one of the better books that SK has written, and I have read many of them. (Don't understand how some reviewers couldn't 'get into it'.) A gripping tale of suspense and the ending makes perfect sense - though, of course, highly implausible! Buy it, read it, enjoy it! Then maybe watch the film!
Joy.
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