‘I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger....' writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up '1922', the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.
In 'Big Driver', a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger is along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.
'Fair Extension', the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Harry Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment. When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable, and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends 'A Good Marriage'.
Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring hit films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long-story form.
©2010 Stephen King (P)2010 Simon & Schuster Audio division
"Full Dark, No Stars" is comprised of four novellas that each deal with individuals living the reality of the common fantasy question "What would you do if..." Each tale explores the darker side of human nature and involves the characters making morally grey (or sometimes utterly black) decisions that have lasting impacts on their own lives or the lives of others.
Whilst I understand King's interest in exploring this disturbing theme, I found the majority of the stories unoriginal, with the exception of one. "1922" basically boils down to the story of a man who becomes tired of his wife and kills her. Although the aftermath has supernatural elements, I found this story dragged on for too long and wasn't very intriguing. It was however quite grotesque, which is King all over.
"Big Driver" was a little more interesting, but still mostly unoriginal: a woman is raped and almost killed and decides she wants revenge on the man that abused her. The story was suspenseful at times and the finale was quite good. However no supernatural elements were present, which is not a bad thing from King. He has written a number of stories that don't have any ghouls and ghosts and they are marvelous to read. I guess I've come to expect more from King.
"Fair Extension" was the most enjoyable of the four stories. I put this down to the enigmatic character of Elvid and what he offers to Streeter, the main character: a life extension and reprieve from the cancer that is eating him from the inside. Of course there is a catch; Streeter must put the burden on someone else, someone he knows well. The story loses its intrigue from this point and ends all too abruptly with no real closure, which was a little frustrating.
"A Good Marriage" is the last tale and once again falls into the unoriginal category: a loving wife discovers her husband of 27 years is a serial killer. This story was one of those that the reader just wants to finish, but drags on for too long again. Quite uninspired.
As previously stated, I feel I have come to expect more from King with his story ideas. That supernatural element is what he uses best and whilst its absence from the majority of these tales could be viewed as a nice diversion from the norm, the book suffers because of it. The reason being that the stories aren't intriguing and due to their seen-it-before nature, there is nothing to keep the reader interested. At least it didn't keep this reader interested.
Stephen King takes a refreshing departure from the supernatural and fanciful, to take a tour of the darker parts of soul of the average everyperson. While "Full Dark, No Stars" consists of four seemingly unrelated tales, they are all wonderfully bound together in the unasked question, "what would you do?" While not all the stories get an equal amount of time to unfold, the first story "1922" almost overstaying it's welcome, they are all well-rounded and most importantly entertaining.
The two narrators do an admirable job with these tales of misfortune, greed and human frailty, however if I was to have one complaint it is that Jessica Hecht sometimes sounds a little too cheerful for the gravitas of the material.
These aren't stories that will chill you to the bone, but they are stories that will hang around in your mind long after the narration has ended.
Although the stories were interesting and the characters well rounded and believable, I felt the stories went on just too long - more padding than content.
Under the Dome was a big read, but was fantastic, interesting and I wanted more. With this I wanted it to hurry up and end.
Craig Wasson does an excellent job of narrating the story but I found Jessica Hecht grating and annoying, it was like listening to a computer read, getting the tone wrong and sounding joyful in gloomy bits and vice versa. I found myself losing focus on the story as I began to wonder why she said it that way or this way as it didn't feel right.
If you like full on horror - this is not for you, it's very tame. If you like gentle, roaming stories with huge gaps between action, then you may like it.
"Not your usual King batch of tales"
This set of stories is very different from others previously written by King. Although the style is clearly King's, these subject matters are very different.
The theme of retribution (or lack of...discuss) is miles apart from what readers will have experienced. A refreshing change maybe for some, but for others (me included), they feel a little 2D - not what I expect from King's characters. The very short and humourous tale about Streeter is by far the best.
"one star or five stars"
I could not decide if this deserved one star or five stars. Its a bizzare but wonderful collection.
The characters and situations grab you instantly as only stephen King can, but I felt myself feeling sad, depressed and confused.
But I suppose that is Stephen King for you, drags you into the most intimate parts of people lives and then shatters it.
SO in the end I think 5 stars, I will be thinking of these stories for a long time to come and I suppose that means the book has got to me in some way, so that good...isnt it...im confused
but well worth the time to listen to
To say that I was looking forward to this title would be an understatement, the first story was promising and I have to admit really enjoying it until the ending.
The endings of each of these short stories was hugely disappointing for me and I could not make any connection with the characters, they all seemed so uninteresting and hum drum.
Craig Wasson is an excellent narrator, however Jessica Hecht did not do the novella justice.
As a Stephen King lover, this is my first audiobook experience and it hasn't disappointed. All four stories, as usual with King, are more shocking because the horror he creates takes place in the everyday.
The stories stayed with me and the growing dismay I felt as each one - until the last of course- drew to a close dissolved instantly as a new and equally compelling narrative began.
The characters draw you in, making you care what happens to, or becomes of, them and the sense of place in all of them is very real.
I loved this and didn't want it to end.
"Wow - this is excellent!"
My first SK book and I'm looking out for my next as this was superb. All 4 stories were great but the 1st 2 were excellent and the 2nd my favourite. I was on tender hooks and thought it was just as edge of the seat as it would have been had it been on the screen, the narration is flawless, both narrators brought the stories to life and had me hooked.I suggested my son give this a go for his intro to audio and he's hooked now too! Even if you think you're not usually a SK fan you will be after this. One of my favourites now. Highly recommend.
"Good Yarns, Bad Narration"
This is not Stevies finest collection of books, certainly not a patch on Four Past Midnight. But while the yarns are good, two of them are ruined by the sickly narration Jessica Hecht.
Probably one of the worst SK series of short stories. frustrated at lack of ending for these stories and the characters were humdrum and uninteresting.
"4 great stories"
This is a fantastic collection. All four are tightly written, well paced and horrifying. Die hard King fans should really enjoy it. Highly, highly recommended!
"A familiar stranger, makes it all dark."
Short but not sweet stories that are among the best Stephen King has written full of tension, like a wire to the throat, that cuts deep, to the last tug. Well thought out and presented like a tasters meal of macabre concoctions that feel like classics.
Superb narration by both persons.
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