Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

4 new stories that probe what ordinary people might do when faced with evil.

There were times when I considered putting down Full Dark, No Stars because it went so deep into the blackness. I know that sounds odd, because of who the author is, but for some reason these stories felt compressed in an unpleasant way. When King takes more time to develop his stories and let them breathe, you get some relief from the evil. That’s not the case with these small stories. And because in each one the evil is so intimate, the stories are claustrophobic to the extreme. I much prefer the mode where the evil is externalized to a greater degree. To me, his gold standard for the short form is “The Langoliers,” where you have an outside menace that then causes a moral breakdown amongst a group for characters. Moving among points-of-view provides a bit of an escape and some characters are also freed to find their best selves. Here you do get some glimpses of courage and even heroism, but the overall mood is relentlessly cynical and bleak.

That said, these stories do have solid literary merit, in terms of concept and execution. I guess I just might have too much Christmas spirit to appreciate them now. I might have liked them better in March.

One thought on “Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King”

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