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.
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.
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.