Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars

“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 mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. 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 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 Dave 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 films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.

Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Craig Wasson, Jessica Hecht
Duration: 14 hours 55 minutes
Released: 10 Sep 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Language: English

User Review:

vet high

Many of Stephen King’s stories scare me, but few horrify me the way these stories did. I found myself stopping my iPod a few minutes into two of the stories, and it was a couple days before I could bear to go back to them … but the phobic attraction of King’s well-shaped narrative drove me back as surely as the subject matter drove me away.

However, I found Jessica Hecht’s narration to sharply undercut the two stories she performed. Although she developed distinctive voices for the characters, her tone was so chirpy that I swear I could HEAR her smiling as she read, and more than once I imagined bluebirds of happiness flitting around my earbuds as I listened. Her tone was much like the one you’d use to read the narration of Lemony Snicket books to children under the age of 8. It was so grating when placed up against very stark and dark prose.

But you’ll note that not even a cheerful, chirpy reading of murderous and grisly scenes could tear me away from the stories. King’s knack for turning off the lights on the everyday world to show the glow of monsters from within our otherwise familiar surroundings and people kept me “turning the page” and looking forward to every spare minute I had to let the stories unfold a little more, a little more, a little more.

I’m eyeing my neighbors a little more suspiciously this week. I wonder why …