This collection contains four new novellas from King, and has been brought forward from its original May publication date, unlike many others, which have been pushed back.
The centrepiece, from which the book takes its title, is also the longest story on offer – roughly double the length of the other individual tales. It’s a sequel to a novel from a couple of years back, The Outsider, and although it can also be read as a standalone piece, really you need to have read that previous work. If you enjoyed that one though, then this is essential reading and is a great postscript to the original book. It’s a gripping thriller of a tale, the pick of the bunch here.
The remaining three stories are
Mr Harrigan’s Phone – a story in which the author muses on the impact made by the internet and mobile phones when they first arrived, along with the monetisation of personal data, all wrapped up in a good old fashioned tale of the supernatural.
The Life of Chuck – I’m not sure I totally understand this one. It’s the story of an ordinary life, told in reverse chronology, with the final scenes (which are at the beginning!) set in a world ravaged by earthquakes, fires, plagues, (sounds familiar!), the end of days perhaps – as the world descends into chaos mysterious events begin to unfold – or is it all the creation of the dying mind of a man laying comatose in a hospital bed? Intriguing!
Rat – an author fighting to complete a novel makes an unlikely Faustian pact with said rodent! The setting reminded me a little of The Shining – a struggling author locks himself away in a remote location, and is then cut off by a storm, while, as inspiration dries up, hallucinations begin – or do they?
The book ends with a brief but very illuminating author’s note, in which King gives an insight into the inspiration and origins of each story.
Length of Read:Long
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Other King books, supernatural stories.
One thing you’ve learned
‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is a saying used by US TV networks.