First Published: November, 2010
Source: Barnes & Noble – Bought
I’ve been pushing off this review, because I wanted to make sure I had enough time to give it the serious thought and reflection it deserves. And, with plenty of time before heading into work today, I’ve been blessed with that necessary window.
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This is a collection of 4 novellas. I spent forever while I was reading each trying story to connect them with a common theme. King is a critical thinker and careful planner. I knew there had to be some sort of connection.
There is, in my opinion.
The revelation hit me about a week after I had finished reading this book and, of course, struck me when the stories weren’t even prominently on my mind. It’s strange how these things works. Yet, there it was, clear as day. The common theme I had been grasping for, staring me straight in the eye:
That’s right, these stories are absolutely dripping with revenge, and I love it.
I’m going to be reviewing each story individually below, but, as indicated at the top of this review, they all received a 5/5-star rating from me.
This is the first story in the collection and, by far, the least disturbing…and it’s pretty bad.
This story is actually a very, very long letter – a confession. Wilfred James murdered his wife and got away with it. The guilt drove him mad and had some very serious repercussions on his life. What’s worse, yet, is that his son saw him murder his wife and somehow keeps/kept quiet about it, that is, until he runs off with the neighbor girl and their unborn child.
This story had some very heavy western vibes. Not necessarily in the parts that take place on the farm, but especially concerning the son’s plight to run off so him and his girl can raise their baby. It’s very Jesse James (for lack of a better comparison – I’m not that into westerns (unless they take place in space) to make a better comparison.)
This story is brimming with tragedy and golly does King do a good job of making you feel that tragedy and also the regret. King’s writing is top notch. I was utterly disgusted, positively revolted by all the characters, but I couldn’t help except root for them. King has a way of doing that.
One of my favorite aspects of this was the reoccurring mentions of rats. It made the line between the paranormal and merely one man’s madness. How much was really happening? We will never know. They were an interesting aspect of the story and one that I would totally be interested in writing a critical analysis on. (Which, I might actually do.)
Revenge Significance: Wilfred’s wife is clearly torturing him from the afterlife. Whether she’s really there or a figment of his imagination (him creating his own revenge he knew he deserves), the idea is prominent in the story.
This was a tough story for me to read. It focusses on the rape of a young woman, so if that is going to be a trigger for you, definitely skip this story.
Tess is an author of popular series of cozy mystery books. She’s been asked to come to a conference, which she accepts after making sure it follows her strict conference guidelines – mainly that she won’t have to stay over night. She’s quite the shut in, usually only corresponding with her closest friend and her cat. Things go horribly wrong for Tess when she’s told about a shortcut home. That’s where she meets Big Driver. That’s where her life changes forever. That’s where she’s left for dead.
I couldn’t help but get Wrong Turn vibes from this story. (Does anyone else remember that horrible, disgusting movie?)
This was actually my favorite story solely because King actually writes a very interesting feminist critique on society and how we treat the sexual assault and abuse of women. It’s a very raw and realistic story that made me angry and ready for revolution. This is all on top of him weaving a story that is packed-full of tension and plot twists and turns. I was constantly on the edge of my seat with anticipation.
I also loved this story’s ending. I threw my fist in the air in triumph. (Which is a horrible thing to say given the events that occur, but I did it solely because King made a strong point that chilled me to the bone.) It was a fantastic way to wrap up these horrible encounters.
Revenge Significance: It should be pretty obvious that Tess is the star of this one.
“That girl deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die.”
(Tess has total Uma Thurman vibes. Did you catch my reference?)
We all know this story. Even if you haven’t read this story, you know it. Trust me.
Harry Skeeter has cancer. He’s going to die. He hates what he made of his life, and he hates the path he’s taken. So, one night, he stumbles across and a man at a crossroads selling televisions. But, is he really selling televisions? This is that timeless story of selling your soul to the devil for personal gain. But, in this case, someone else has to suffer. The most disturbing part? Harry gets to choose who that person is.
This was honestly probably the most disturbing story out of the bunch. I say this not because it’s the most gruesome or the most crude, but because it’s filled with so much hate. There is literally no chill in this story. Someone had to suffer and someone sure did. But, it wasn’t Harry Skeeter. That’s for sure.
I still felt this story was 5-star worthy: however, it wasn’t my favorite, so I don’t have much more to say about it. A thrilling read to make your stomach churn.
Revenge Significance: Harry gets his revenge on his “best friend” for having such a successful life while Harry has/d nothing.
“A Good Marriage“
Oh gosh. This one. THIS ONE. This was easily my second favorite.
Darcy Anderson has a good marriage. She has a loving family. A good husband. A decent fortune. Two wonderful kids. She’s happy with her life. She’s content with the choices she’s made and how her life turned out. Well, she was anyway…That was before her husband was traveling on business and she found a secret treasure box containing small trinkets from the many people he’s murdered over the last 20 years. Darcy’s good marriage went out the door, and she’s forced to face the horrible truth.
This is one intense story. This was the story I read the fastest. I devoured every page. King’s writing and story-telling is at the top of his game in this one. I was kind of disappointed with myself, because I watched the 2-part TV special on Netflix awhile back, so I knew the general premise of what was going to happen. But, I was so pleased that the story unfolded in a different sort of way and I didn’t see a few of the twists coming.
This story really got to me because, for some reason even though I’m not married nor have a family of my own, I found it so easy to put myself in Darcy’s shoes, which was horrifying. Looking at it from that perspective made this story all the more menacing. How would you even cope with something like that?
The reoccurring statement of a “good marriage” was simultaneously annoying and fascinating. This is another detail from this book I’d like to write formally about. It was Darcy’s safety blanket. She had a good marriage. How could her husband possibly so horrible? She had a good marriage.
Revenge Significance: Darcy’s.
So, all in all, do I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s a must read for King fans and horror lovers.
Also, if you do read this, make sure you read King’s note at the end. It’s bone-chilling and makes you think about these stories completely different. What would you have done if it was you?
Have you read this? Thoughts?
Get your copy from Book Depository here for $9.26.
Up Tomorrow: Review of Goosebumps: Deep Trouble