Stephen King

This took me quite a while. Finally, in the year 2005, I discovered Stephen King. Of course, films like The Shining and Carrie are classics, and I’ve seen ’em, but up until March of this year, I hadn’t ever picked up a Stephen King book.

Anyway, there I was in the library one Saturday morning, keeping an eye on the elder two as they settled in to the children’s section, and I decided to wander over to an area I usually don’t bother with: science fiction and horror. I picked up a novel called The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, took it home with me, and that was it. Totally engrossed. In point of fact, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon isn’t even a horror story, it’s not what you might call “classic King”, but it is a great tale. If I hadn’t been struck by the end of the book (I was), that most heinous of publishing tricks was appended: a sample chapter from King’s next novel! Well, I read that, and then got me back to the library quick-smart…

Hearts In Atlantis is a collection of five stories, inter-linked, and spookily told. All five tales work a mysterious magic, and focus in some way or other on that defining era: when the USA fought in Vietnam. All the tales are good, but for me the first two, “Low Men In Yellow Coats” and “Hearts In Atlantis”, are the best.

I was on a roll, and recklessly chose a third on a visit to the library in April. Well, this was the clincher as it turned out: Bag of Bones. Wow, wow, wow. I understand a film version is on its way: here’s hoping for an adaptation deserving of this book — it could certainly be done, as this novel is by far the most evocative and downright chilling of all the King books I’ve read so far: the definitive ghost story for adults!

Finally, the latest book is interesting because it’s an older one: The Dead Zone was published in 1979 (and released to cinemas in 1983 starring Christopher Walken — excellent casting!) I chose it mainly because I wanted to read some older King. Interestingly, again it’s not strictly a horror story, more of an extremely sad thriller. I wasn’t disappointed with it: this chap can write!

But then I suppose everyone else already knew that eh?


  1. I have been a Stephen King fan for a long time. Often times many people are turned off by the concept of "horror", but some of his stories are magical, even without the horror. Point in fact - two of the best movies of all time (IMO) are The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me, both of which are based on novella's (not short, but not long) from a collection called "Different Seasons", which is also well worth a read.

    I've found some of his newer work not quite as good as some of the older ones, although "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" was an excellent exception.

    My King favourites are The Stand and It. You may also find that there are theme's throughout Kings' work. He has a large number of books which are set in Castle Rock, and always nicely keeps the continuity throughout the stories. However, the mother ship of all his stories are The Dark Tower series - a series of 7 books (I've yet to read the last three - awaiting on paperback release) which is threaded through many of his stories, in particular the "Low Men in Yellow Coats" story. The Dark Tower is not everyone's cup of tea, even for King's fans, but for those who do like it, it's wonderful, and makes you want to re-read many of his other works to pick up the links. The Dark Tower is an set both in our world, and alternate dimensions, and is a kind of sci-fi, western, epic saga. A warning, the first novel, The Gunslinger, kind of starts half way through the story, so the first half of the book is a touch slow, but gathers momentum and keeps you going through the remaining if you are willing to give it a chance.

    Enjoy!Laurette Rynne#
  2. I, too, just discovered King recently. I was never interested, because I thought he just wrote "horror" stories, which was a genre that never really appealed to me. Then, fate stepped in, and I was in a small airport without any reading material. Saw a little book called "The Gunslinger", thought it sounded mildly interesting, so I bought it. WOW! Became completely hooked on the Dark Tower series…one of the best epics I have ever read. I would definitely put that on your 'must read' list. The Dark Tower saga is seven big books (does he write anything small?) so you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of them. The way he intertwines them with his other stories is pretty cool too!

    Have fun!Chris Blatnick#
  3. I used to read Stephen King all the time many years ago, then stopped, and just recently I am reading him again. "The Stand" is definitely a must read, and I just finished the Dark Tower series, and it was incredible. I thought the 2nd and 4th books in this series is some of his best work. Totally engrossing. Love his short stories, too. Anonymous Coward#
  4. I've been a huge fan all my life, since I read "Christine" when I was 10! The bit where they figure out where the kids headaches are going from was creepy!

    Keep a look out for the Richard Bachman books as well. This was a pseudo name he wrote under for a while. There is one book called The Dark Half which was absolutely brilliant.

    He went through a wordy phase with "It", so I'd give that a miss for now (I think Tim Curry was in the film version).
    Steve Algieri#
  5. I am a much bigger fan of King's earlier work than the stuff he has produced lately. I don't think that you can find ascarier short story than "The Boogeyman". One of the many great stories in Night Shift, it will have you checking your closet for weeks after reading it. In fact, my wife will never again read King after reading it while in high school. She hated having to sleep with the lights on. The short stories in Night Shift have spawned 8 movies.

    I also am a huge fan of "The Stand" (read it 3 times), "Misery", and "It", all much better than their film counterparts. I also love the way he weaved the clown from "It" into a scene in "Tommyknockers".

    Sean---Sean Burgess#
  6. My introduction to Stephen King (and in many respects reading for pleasure) was with Dead Zone since then I have hoovered up anything of Kings and his alter ego Bachmann.

    In nearly every book you get a cross reference to a character or incident in a previous book.

    The problem I find with film adaptions of Kings work is they can never portray the books well, as so much of his writing is aboout the unspoken word, the thoughts, the actions etc. Having said that Misery was a great film that carried all the main points of book.

    Onca you have read King's impressive back catalogue I would recommend Richard Laymon, I particutrly like the Beast House books. David Wall#

Comments on this post are now closed.


I’m a software architect / developer / general IT wrangler specialising in web, mobile web and middleware using things like node.js, Java, C#, PHP, HTML5 and more.

Best described as a simpleton, but kindly. You can read more here.