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Full Dark, No Stars Hardcover – November 9, 2010
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: When a master of horror and heebie-jeebies like Stephen King calls his book Full Dark, No Stars, you know you’re in for a treat--that is, if your idea of a good time is spent curled up in a ball wondering why-oh-why you started reading after dark. King fans (and those who have always wanted to give him a shot) will devour this collection of campfire tales where marriages sway under the weight of pitch-black secrets, greed and guilt poison and fester, and the only thing you can count on is that "there are always worse things waiting." Full Dark, No Stars features four one-sitting yarns showcasing King at his gritty, gruesome, giddy best, so be sure to check under the bed before getting started. --Daphne Durham
Amazon Exclusive: Justin Cronin, Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood, and T.C. Boyle Review Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars
|"King is Poe's modern heir, and no writer has a richer sense of the dark rooms in the human psyche and fiction's singular power to capture them." |
Read more of Justin Cronin's
review of "1922"
|"Fast-paced and beautifully plotted, 'Big Driver' pulls you into Tess's fragmented mind and holds you hostage until the story concludes." |
Read more of Suzanne Collins's
review of "Big Driver"
|"It wouldn't be Stephen King if somebody's messily bleeding neck did not sprout a huge white knob. As it were." |
Read more of Margaret Atwood's review
of "A Good Marriage"
|"[King's] very ordinary-looking devil has no use for human souls, which, in these enervated times, 'have become poor and transparent things.'" |
Read more of T.C. Boyle's review
of "Fair Extension"
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Eerie twists of fate drive the four longish stories in King's first collection since Just After Sunset (2008). In "1922," a farmer murders his wife to retain the family land she hopes to sell, then watches his life unravel hideously as the consequences of the killing suggest a near-supernatural revenge. "Big Driver" tells of an otherwise ordinary woman who discovers her extraordinary capacity for retribution after she is raped and left for dead. "A Good Marriage" explores the aftermath of a wife's discovery of her milquetoast husband's sinister secret life, while "Fair Extension," the book's most disturbing story, follows the relationship between a man and the best friend on whom he preternaturally shifts all his bad luck and misfortune. As in Different Seasons (1982), King takes a mostly nonfantastic approach to grim themes. Now, as then, these tales show how a skilled storyteller with a good tale to tell can make unsettling fiction compulsively readable. (Nov.) (c)
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Top Customer Reviews
Four stories, from shorter to longer, comprise this volume. 1922 is a tale of that old cliché: the perfect crime gone wrong. In this case, what goes wrong, however, is not some flaw in the execution of the crime itself, but in underestimating the emotional and psychological toll on the perpetrators. Big Driver is also from that straight cliché book: the revenge tale. But this one has, what I considered at least, to be a very interesting twist about how the damsel got into distress in the first place. Fair Extension, the shortest story here, is also the one with a supernatural feel to it. Though I have to admit, I did not mind it as much as I thought. In fact, it was tight, fast and delivered a nice sucker punch. The book ends with A Good Marriage, a fictitious tale based on an unfortunately all too true event of the past decade.
I can understand why King is so successful. The stories display a strong imagination, such that even the above-mentioned clichés take on a fresh scent. The man knows how to paint a scene and wrap the reader around in it.
Like a number of authors, however, King is also weak on dialogue. People do not really speak the way the characters here do, and it was an unfortunate distraction. Also, my peeve is that characters’ inner voices tend to be externalized too much, such as in Big Driver with its talking GPS. A person’s inner voice, softly whispering dark possibilities into one’s ear, strikes me as a more effective way to build the suspense.
But hey, I am not the one selling a billion books. King is, and it shows.
"1922" read by Craig Wasson -- a story of a man that resorts to murder, deception, and manipulation for greed. Wilfred convinces his son to help him murder his wife/his mother over a patch of land. The havoc that is wrought because of his decisions makes this long tale engrossing from the beginning. Craig Wasson's reading is tremendous; I can't imagine it in any other voice now. I didn't care for the faux supernatural parts with the rats though. It seemed to diminish its impact a little. 4 stars
"Big Driver" read by Jessica Hecht -- a story of rape, revenge and a woman that finds "her other self", a dark entity that she starts to embrace and begins to fear. A decent revenge story where King ramps up the uncomfortable details to the point that it's almost unbearable. Jessica's reading style is interesting, but it took me a while to get into. I didn't like her vocals for male characters, which came off like she needed a throat lozenge. 3 stars
"Fair Extension" read by Craig Wasson -- the shortest story of the collection is the weakest. This is King's version of a Faustian pact and a snub at conventional morality tales at the same time. The story's got a very nice idea, and the method of telling a story over an extended period of time is excellent; however, it doesn't fit King's narrative style and fails to build suspense. 2 stars
"A Good Marriage" read by Jessica Hecht -- interesting take on a serial killer story from the perspective of another character. The details are truly effective here, everything from the magazine, the coin lingo and the grizzly details of the murders is used to heighten tension and build towards a cathartic finale. King ably delivers more details after the knock out punch to colors everything before it in new layers horror. I enjoyed Jessica's reading more this time around as it seemed to fit the characters better. 4 Stars