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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Joyride
In tradition of 'Salem's Lot, Stephen King writes Needful Things through the view of many characters, not just one main character, and keeps the reader guessing throughout the entire novel what will happen to which character. It works so well in Needful Things that I found myself reading madly and gaping my mouth many times. Truly a gruesome and horrifying...
Published on February 27, 2000 by Nick Musolino

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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bright Spot among SK's Later Novels
Many of Stephen King's readers (including some of the author's diehard fans) agree that the author's novels lost some of their pizzazz around 1987 or so. Although King's ability to create believable characters has remained strong throughout his career, he seems to have grown tired of the horror themes that inspired his earlier works.
Needful Things is a bright spot...
Published on January 27, 2004 by Edward P. Trimnell


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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Joyride, February 27, 2000
In tradition of 'Salem's Lot, Stephen King writes Needful Things through the view of many characters, not just one main character, and keeps the reader guessing throughout the entire novel what will happen to which character. It works so well in Needful Things that I found myself reading madly and gaping my mouth many times. Truly a gruesome and horrifying experience, in Needful Things, King creates great characters, Alan Pangborn, Norris Ridgewick, Polly Chalmers, Nettie Cobb, Hugh Priest, Ace Merrill, John LaPointe, and maybe the best villian he has ever created in Leland Gaunt. The way he makes Gaunt so low key and friendly, and evil at the same time is wonderful. He also ties in all his other novels which have taken place in Castle Rock such as Cujo, The Dead Zone, and the novella The Body, very well. Sure, you'll be flipping back to see what character did what to whom when the novel takes its turning points, but that's the fun of it. How King can write so many things in 700 pages and keep the reader hooked and interested. And of course, the ending in which evil does not fully lose. God I love that! Needful Things, one of Stephen King's most entertaining books. A must read!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bright Spot among SK's Later Novels, January 27, 2004
This review is from: Needful Things (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (School & Library Binding)
Many of Stephen King's readers (including some of the author's diehard fans) agree that the author's novels lost some of their pizzazz around 1987 or so. Although King's ability to create believable characters has remained strong throughout his career, he seems to have grown tired of the horror themes that inspired his earlier works.
Needful Things is a bright spot among the post-Pet Cemetery novels. Despite the formidable length of the book, King's tale of a curio shop that caters to people's innermost desires is captivating from beginning to end. As another reviewer pointed out, the premise of the story is not exactly original--but this doesn't make Needful Things any less entertaining.
The story is set in familiar King territory: the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. SK interweaves a number of complex subplots within the dark underside of small town life. Near the climax of the tale, the story switches rapidly from one subplot to another, practically compelling you to turn the page to discover what happens next.
Although I liked Needful Things overall, there were a few points that could have been improved:
-SK once stated in an interview that he would go for the gross-out if he couldn't scare the reader outright. (I am loosely paraphrasing a very old interview here.) Many of Stephen King's earlier works contained some genuinely spooky scenes. (Who can forget the woman in the bathtub in The Shining?) However, SK's later works tend to rely increasingly on B-movie gore. Needful Things contains a few too many descriptions of blood and guts, and a couple of scatological references that could have been omitted. I'm an adult and I've read worse, so these passages don't bother me--but this isn't the kind of writing that King enthralled me with in Salem's Lot and Carrie.
-One of the key subplots of the story hinges on a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants living in Castle Rock. At times, the intensity of the enmity between the two groups seems a bit unrealistic. However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise well-crafted latticework of back-stories and subplots.
If you didn't like Insomnia or Dreamcatcher, then you should give Needful Things a try. You may not like this book as much as The Shining, but it stands out among SK's more recent novels.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hasn't lost a thing!, May 27, 2001
By 
Thanos6 (Chapin, SC USA) - See all my reviews
P>I first reviewed this book several years ago. It was one of the first books by Mr. King that I had read. I loved it.
Now that I've had the chance to read much more of his work, what do I think of it now?
It's still great.
This is one of his best cast of characters assembled here. Alan Pangborn, Norris Ridgewick, Henry Payton, Ace Merrill...everyone is very real-seeming and three-dimensional.
But as is often the case in good fiction, the villain steals the show. Leland Gaunt will entrance the reader as much as he did the people of Castle Rock, while simultaneously making you loathe him utterly.
This is interesting, because most of King's villains are able to evoke *some* sympathy for the reader; Randall Flagg, IT, and Tak are just a few examples. So what's the difference? Why are those three--among others--capable of being rooted for while Leland Gaunt receives only boos?
Randall Flagg, IT, and Tak only want to kill you, and they have semi-indentifiable motives. Gaunt, however, simply wants to be entertained by the carnage and chaos. He'll steal your soul and sow havoc in the same way that you or I would turn on the TV. He'll manipulate whole towns simply for his amusement. Thus it is that King does an excellent job of portraying him as a demon who deserves nothing more than absolute destruction. Overall--still great!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Description of Evil...., October 5, 2004
From the only man who can describe pure evil. Needful Things is a jawdropping tale of evil in a Maine town. The only things I know about Maine come from Stephen King novels and the more Stephen King novels I read, the more I want to go there. As usual the King is not afraid to write down everything from his mind of insanity and this book is not exception, he is undoubtely the greatest American author and dare say the world!!!!

While this is a great novel, note to the squeamish or to parents: this novel like almost all of Stephen Kings novels is quite graphic, don't be surprised if it talks about a knife going into someones stomach in really graphic detail. The detail will scare the living crap out of you, it will make you afraid to go to sleep, it will make you cry, it will make you angry and if you can't hold in your hormones, it will make you aroused, which brings me to my next point: Parents of kids who are too young to be read Stephen King(5-12), the language is really obscene, there is graphic violence, and there is graphic sexual content including sex, masturbating, male/female sex organs and just stuff your children shouldn't know about. But, that doesn't mean that teenagers can't read Stephen King, they just shouldn't start here. I suggest newcomers into the world of Stephen King should read his early stuff like Salem's Lot, the Gunslinger, or the Dead Zone.

(I know I probably didn't give a good enough review for five stars, but I'm used to doing music reviews, so I'm just now doing book reviews, so just bare with me.)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needful Things "Needs" A Better Ending, June 14, 2005
By 
Scott Kolecki (Brooklyn, Ohio USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I began this book with no expectations. Unlike some of Stephen King's earlier stories, which have long since become classics of the horror genre, I knew very little of this story, and so I approached it simply as another book from a favorite author of mine.

Early on, I became engrossed in the book and really enjoyed the early exposition-King has an uncanny ability to really put you in the mind of the character and transport you into the story. Each of his principal characters seemed to be pretty well developed. Alan Pangborn, the sheriff of Castle Rock and Polly Chalmers, his arthritis-ridden girlfriend, are the central characters of a cast of literally the whole town, and they act as the backbone of the story.

Things are foul once more in Castle Rock as a new store, named "Needful Things" opens, providing would be customers the chance to own the one thing that each has always needed in their life...with prices that seem too good to believe-and they are. The owner of the shop, Leland Gaunt, accepts repayment of the many items purchased with the playing of "innocent" pranks on various members of the Castle Rock. These pranks begin to crosswire the town in destructive, and deadly, ways.

King, who claims that this is the last of his stories to be set in Castle Rock, uses this tale to tie together some of his earlier stories set in the locale. Especially interesting is the return of "Ace" Merrill, who made his debut in "The Body" (Stand By Me as it was called in it's movie format), as the one of the villans of this tale. Throughout the story though, King makes references to some of his earlier works, such as Cujo, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and does it with a subtlety that only true King fans will pick up on.

What I found dissapointing about this story was the last 20 pages or so. Everything was building and building, as it always does in a Stephen King story, and then suddenly it seemed as though King pulled the carpet out from under the reader. (NOTE: Story Spoiler ahead) It turns out that Leland Gaunt is the devil, or at least one of the devil's minions, who has come to capture the souls of anyone who would dare make a deal with him. By the end of the story, Gaunt has successfully managed to cross-wire the town and literally turn individuals, and congregations against one another. People are killing each other in droves, fighting and destroying the town and, caught in the middle of all of this is the sheriff and his girlfriend, who alone seem to realize what Gaunt is doing. As they confront him, Alan sees Gaunt as he truly is, the devil, and confronts him on the street corner in front of his store, where Gaunt was fleeing with a dufflebag full of souls. He confronts Gaunt and defeats him by pulling a magic trick out which transforms itself into a brilliant light-presumably the light of truth and righteousness-and drives the demom away from the souls, which he then sets free. Gaunt flees with nearly no fight and disappears into the heaven, drawn away by a demonic horse and carriage.

If you are going, "um, what?" at this point, I simply nod my head with you...I said the same thing. As King is known to do sometimes, he builds character and story in such a way that it has nowhere left to go. As a result, the culmination of his stories are sometimes disappointing, though they generally seem to make sense. This one seemed to just end, as though King rand out of idea, had had enough fun destroying Castle Rock and all its tenants, and said, "okay, I'm done", putting a lousy ending on what had been a great story up to that point.

For fans of Stephen King, this is not a bad book at all...it's characters and settings are as good as any of the more recent King stories...just understand that this reviewer felt cheated in the final pages of the tale. For those who are looking for an introduction to Stephen King, I would say that you try some of his more recognized books-like Pet Semetary, the Shining, Salem's Lot or even Christine or Carrie. This one is a good story, but it lacks the culmination that these earlier works provide. This book, like many of King's more "recent" writings, tends to meander some, and leaves the reader feeling as though there should be more ahead, when in fact there isn't.

-Scott Kolecki
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not amazing but still underrated, January 31, 2006
Not enough is said about some of Kings's books (Needful Things, Rose Madder) and people tend to cling on to his most commercial books (The Shining, It, Pet Semetary). I think that people tend to overlook some of his novels. Needful Things is a book that I enjoyed very much but I never find any else who feels the same way. Now I'm not saying it's perfect, there are other books I feel that are far more deserving of that title, but it is still a good read.

Pros: The story takes place in King's imfamous Castlerock.

King masterfully writes multiple characters and plot lines.

Mr. Gaunt is creepy, creepy, creepy.

It's easy to get lost in King's longer novels, so I always feel more involved/attached to what's going on

Cons: The ending is a little anticlimatic.

I wanted more from the "last Castlerock novel."

While compelling it might be a little unlikely that all the characters in the town would be so easily manipulated and secretive about their deeds.

But in the long run I did find Needful Things to be a book worth reading. It's not the best, it's not the worst, it's the middle of the road. But somehow King's mediocore or bad books tend to be better then some author's best.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Stephen King's Best!!, November 21, 2000
By 
To me this is one of Stephen Kin's best novels ever. He develops the characters even better than in his usual stories. I love the way that the town goes from completely normal to reverting into chaos. The plot is this. The town of Castle Rock is like any other town, until a new store, Needful Things opens up. As people go into the store, they begin to realize that the owner, a weird man named Leland Gaunt, has possessions that they have always wanted. In exchange for selling them these items, Mr. Gaunt has them play a prank on another town resident. Eventually these pranks end up turning the town into an insane war zone, and I won't give away the ending. One of the best things about this novel is that even though the plot is a tad unbelievable, King makes it believable with his fantastic writing style. I only wish that I could give this book six stars.
Even if you are not a fan of Stephen King, I strongly urge you to go out and buy this book. Believe me, it is a chioce that you won't regret.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everybody has a price., February 17, 2005
A simple clever idea neatly executed.

If the devil came to your town or city to destroy your community, how would he go about it? This book provides a convincing and entertaining answer to that question. Mr Gaunt is new in town, new yes but he knows the residents only too well, he knows more about them than they know, he understands their pressure points and the price of each of their souls.

The cleverness of this book is that it is so believable, the genius of Gaunts game lies in the differences between human beings, when he sets out to make one person destroy another he plans his moves exquisitely, breaking Wilma's windows seems relatively mild to the boy he selects for the job, yet to Wilma, it is calculated by Gaunt to make her homicidal with rage. Animal rights mean little (morally) to the man he selects to kill Nettie's dog, yet to the lonely, vulnerable and unstable animal lover Nettie, it turns her into a monster. Smaller misdeeds are turned into terrifyingly larger ones with great profit for the Devil Gaunt. Everyone has different values, everyone's endurance limit is different, and so like a row of dominos the town begins to lose it's mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A high-speed train of excitement!, June 24, 1999
By A Customer
Just like a train, "Needful Things" starts off slow and relaxed, but eventually ends up hitting about 300 miles per hour.
Although this was only my 2nd Castle Rock book, the first being "The Dark Half," I enjoyed this immensely. Alan Pangborn takes his place in my Pantheon Of Favorite Literary Heroes thanks to this. But my favorite character was Norris Ridgewick, the deputy. He was one of only three who could shake off Gaunt's power. There's more to him than you first see.
I also liked Danforth Keeton ("aka Buster, aka Zippy's Dad, aka Toad of Toad Hall"). And I loved the reference at the end to "The Library Policeman," the best story in "Four Past Midnight." By the way, Sam Peebles, hero of "Library," has also entered my Pantheon Of Favorite Literary Heroes.
All in all, I loved "Needful Things!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because it was so much fun..., December 15, 1999
This is not Stephen King's greatest novel. It doesn't have the depth of Deloris Claiborne, the bone-freezing splendor of The Shining, the (amazingly) non-sentimental bathos of The Green Mile, the scope of The Stand or the touching vulnerability of The Body. However, it's one of his absolutely FUNNEST (word? you know what I mean) books.
I felt like a little kid, eating a candy bar that left the book sticky with chocolate fingerprints as I flipped the pages compulsively. Yum! Your imagination just goes wild. After all, this could happen in your town. After all, it DOES. I kept thinking, what would I sell my soul for? And then I remembered that cashmere sweater I saw just the other day at Saks...
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Needful Things (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)
Needful Things (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) by Stephen King (School & Library Binding - June 1, 1997)
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