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Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King
Genre: Mixed Genre Collection
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: 2010
Review Posted: 8/21/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Book Review by David L. Felts

Have you read this book?

It's been long while since I've read a Stephen King book. I think the last one was one of his Dark Tower books, and I couldn't tell you when that was. I thought The Stand was fantastic and have read it 3 or 4 times, but not in a long while. It's one of my favorites, but then I have a weakness for post-apocalyptic stuff. I remember some of his short stories too, though I couldn't tell you any titles. I haven't deliberately decided to avoid his stuff, I just kind of.... stop noticing it I guess. Plus his books tend to be very long and require a hefty investment of time to finish. And I haven't been reading as much as I used to.

Anyway, the other day I was in the grocery store, pushing the cart down the magazine aisle, when I notice Full Dark, No Stars. On impulse, I picked it up, read the blurb on the back, realized it was a collection of shorter tales, and dropped it into the cart. Over the next week, I worked my way through it. It's not groundbreaking, or award winning, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

Wilfred, a farmer in 1920s Nebraska, is at odds with his wife. She wants to sell some land she owns and move to the big city, he wants to keep the land and stay in the country. This conflict ultimately leads to Wilfred murdering her, but the worst part is how he convinces their son to help. In Stephen King stories, dead people rarely stay dead and 1922 is no exception. A study in guilt and wasted lives with a very unlikeable main character.

Big Driver
Tess is a popular murder mystery writer, somewhat stereotypically middle-aged, single, and owning a cat. After a book-signing and speaking appearance, she takes a recommended shortcut on the way home, only to get bushwhacked by a psychotic serial killer. Left for dead, she manages to escape, and plots her revenge against her attacker. I'm not sure I buy her justification for not involving the police, especially after she discovers she isn't the only victim (King tries a bit too hard to make us accept it I think). Nevertheless, it's a nice revenge tale that had me rooting for Tess.

Fair Extension
Dave is dying from incurable cancer, has had a crappy life, and is pretty bitter about it. George Elvid is a roadside salesman who can help him out, at a price of course. But that price is something Dave is willing, even eager, to pay, so he accepts Elvid's offer. The price is Dave handing off all his bad luck to his "friend" Tom, who has, thus far, led a charmed life. The rest of the story shows us Dave's good fortune and Tom's bad. Dave is an ass. This is the only story that has a central speculative fiction element.

A Good Marriage
This was my favorite story. Darcy and Bob have the seemingly perfect marriage, but after more than 20 years, Darcy uncovers some disturbing information about her seemingly uber-normal accountant husband, information that would not only ruin his life, but hers and their children's as well. What to do? I like how this one worked out.

My feelings on Full Dark, No Stars are mixed. As I've gotten older, I've gotten more intolerant of people I don't like. I avoid them when possible and escape as quickly as I can't when it's not. Likewise, I'm not much interested in reading about characters I don't like. Stories like 1922 and Fair Extension, despite being well written, don't do all that much for me. Life's too short to spend it reading (or associating with) unpleasant people.
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