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  • Jeff Somers 1:00 pm on 2019/10/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , Horror, master of horror, , pet semetary, , , spooky season, ,   

    Stephen King’s Scariest Stories, Ranked 

    Stephen King has evolved into one of literature’s most complex cases: once more or less the only horror writer everyone in the country had read, he’s evolved into a subtle master of letters who moves nimbly between literary, fantasy, mystery, horror, and books that combine all of the above. But to this day, he’s still a master of scaring readers—and even his non-horror books pack in plenty of chilling moments. Below, we rank the ten most frightening King books ever.

    10. Gerald’s Game
    This underrated gem from the 1990s plays a weird trick: initially, the sordid sex game that initiates the plot, wherein a woman named Jessie, caught in a troubled marriage, is stranded in a remote cabin, handcuffed to the bed, after her husband has a fatal heart attack in the middle of a kinky experiment, promises titillation. Soon, the story swerves into what seems like a one of survival and emotional reckoning—and then dives into darker territory involving a seriously frightening encounter with a starving dog and a disturbing entity Jessie calls the Space Cowboy. As Jessie’s mental state deteriorates, King makes her desperation and sense of mounting doom visceral, and her powerlessness makes it almost excruciating.

    Most blood-curdling moment: While the moment Jessie degloves herself (which means just what you think it does) to escape the handcuffs is total body horror, we’d have to vote for the much quieter moment when the dog first enters the house and sees Jessie’s husband’s corpse as a potential feast.

    9The Dark Half
    The Dark Half regularly shows up in lists of King’s most underrated works. The premise—a famous writer finds an evil character of his own creation comes to life and launch a murder spree—doesn’t seem all that terrifying at first blush, but it’s what King does with it that makes this book scary. Exploring themes of sanity, creativity, and the creeping suspicion that we all have a dark half that might enjoy a little bloodletting, The Dark Half is both a creepy-as-heck horror story and an insightful commentary on how little control we have over our subconsciousness. King cleverly makes the evil dude, George Stark, so over-the-top so as to be comical, obscuring the fact that real horror is coming from inside the main character all along.

    Most blood-curdling moment: When author Thad engages in an “automatic writing” experiment and his hand goes rogue and stabs him. The idea of your body being under someone else’s control is terrifying.

    8. 1922 (from Full Dark, No Stars)
    1922 is a truly horrifying story of greed, emotional collapse, and the various ways a person can be punished for their crimes. Willfred, a farmer, manipulates his own son into helping murder his wife in order to gain her land and preserve the value of his own—and begins having seriously disturbing premonitions and run-ins with vicious rats almost immediately afterward. Every step Willfred takes on his way to rock-bottom feels inevitable, and that inevitability is part of the scariness. There’s something uniquely terrifying about being trapped in a fate you chose for yourself, and also something very satisfying in watching Willfred pay and pay and pay for his crimes—with his family, with his own body, then with the land he killed for, and finally with his life.

    Most blood-curdling moment: Since 1922 is all about the slow boil of fear, naturally it’s the ending, when Willfred gets what’s coming to him. Haunted and ruined, he thinks has a plan for when the rats come, but nothing is as it seems.

    7. Salem’s Lot
    King’s love for old-school horror has never been a secret, and in Salem’s Lot he indulges in a classic authorial “what if” experiment, wondering what would happen if Dracula showed up in a small town in 20th-century America. This is one of King’s most straightforward stories, and it’s scary precisely because King doesn’t try to spice up the vampire myth with new twists. Instead, he mines terror by exploring how the vampiric “infection” would race like fire along familial and friend connections, taking advantage of our closest relationships to turn us into literal monsters.

    Most blood-curdling moment: Two words: Infant vampire.

    6. Misery
    Misery proves King can absolutely terrify you without involving any sort of supernatural element. The key to horror in many ways is control—we all labor under the illusion that we’re in charge of our own lives. Shatter that illusion,and horror follows. Obsessive fan Annie Wilkes is terrifying because she’s so unshakably certain of her righteousness when she takes Paul Sheldon, the author of her favorite novels, prisoner after chancing on him in the wake of a terrible car accident—but also because of how completely she establishes complete control over Paul. Completely at her mercy, Paul soon discovers that the only way to survive is to play along with her insanity.

    Most blood-curdling moment: When Paul breaks the rules, Annie decides he has to be punished, so she does something to his body to make sure he can never run away again. Literally.

    5. The Stand
    The Stand is the very definition of literary sprawl, and by the end of the story it’s become a postapocalyptic epic about two groups attempting to rebuild society, one on the side of good and one in thrall to Randall Flagg, a supernatural evil presence. It’s easy to forget that the first part of the mammoth novel, in which the superbug called Captains Trips decimates the world in the most disgusting way possible, is absolutely horrifying. Anyone who can read the first part of The Stand without freaking out every time they hear someone cough in a crowded room has ice water in their veins.

    Most blood-curdling moment: Larry Underwood’s trek through a pitch-black Lincoln Tunnel filled with rotting corpses and… other things is terrifying.

    4. IT
    Clowns.

    Oh, do we need to say more? Clowns are so inherently terrifying it’s difficult to understand how they became linked with children and harmless fun, and King makes serious hay by having his eternal, malignant force of evil in the town of Derry take on the form of Pennywise the Clown in order to lure children into its power. The true horror of the novel is how It turns the innocence and joy of childhood against us, weaponizing the imaginations and goodness of kids. The way It sneaks up on the kids, luring them into situations where they’re isolated and then turning their fears and insecurities against them, just curdles the blood.

    Most blood-curdling moment: When the Losers are going through the history of Derry and find Pennywise in all the photos… and then the photos start to move.

    3. Most of Skeleton Crew
    If there’s a more terrifying collection of short stories in existence, we haven’t read it. Skeleton Crew is Stephen King at 11 on a scale of least to most terrifying. The standout stories are “The Jaunt,” which takes a deceptively simple sci-fi premise and turns it into a white-haired horror that makes sleep almost impossible, and “Survivor Type,” which imagines a premise that’s terrifying in and of itself (being stranded on a deserted island without food) and cranks up the horror bit by bit—horror that’s twice as effective because you can easily imagine yourself in the same situation, and making the same awful mistakes.

    Most blood-curdling moment: “It’s longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!

    2. The Shining
    The Shining has been so thoroughly out-shined by Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation the novel’s reputation sometimes suffers as a result—people seem to forget that the original story had a different focus, but one just as scary. King plays with themes of alcoholism, insanity, and the possibility that we all have evil inside us, as well as the idea that all that stands between us and that evil are the restraints placed against us by society. Jack’s descent into madness is frightening because you can see yourself in his enraged, unhappy resentment, and because King does such a good job of making the Overlook Hotel both an evil and an inescapable presence.

    Most blood-curdling moment: The scene where Danny is attacked by the topiary animals shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s a white-knuckle sequence that establishes the Overlook’s malevolence beyond any doubt.

    1. Pet Sematary
    Pretty much everyone names Pet Sematary as King’s scariest (including the author himself). Part of it is the primal nature of the scares, centered on loved ones coming back from death wrong. Part of it is the emotional side—the relatable desire of the characters to bring someone back, no matter the cost. And part of it is King’s choices of victims: a beloved cat and a darling little boy, both of whom come back in the same bodies, but with vastly different spirits. Everyone knows loss, and everyone knows what they’d do to reverse the worst of those losses. And everyone knows the price would be terrible. King plugs into all of that expertly, engineering a truly horrifying novel.

    Most blood-curdling moment: “A cold hand fell on Louis’ shoulder. Rachel’s voice was grating, full of dirt. ‛Darling,’ it said.” It’s the “darling” that gets you.

    What’s on your personal list of King’s scariest books?

    The post Stephen King’s Scariest Stories, Ranked appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 2:00 pm on 2019/10/16 Permalink
    Tags: adrienne brodeur, after the flood kassandra montag, , Horror, imaginary friend, , middlegame, , , , soren sveistrup, spooky books, stephen chbosky, , the chestnut man, , , , wild game   

    8 Suspenseful Stories to Tide You Over Until Halloween 

    Scary-story season is finally upon us! Some books are magical, others are simply mind-boggling. Either way, if you’re a lover of all books dark and deceptive, look no further than this list of reads with twists and turns you won’t see coming.

    Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo
    In her first adult novel, Bardugo casts a vicious spell about the dangers of secret societies and trauma, unrestrained. Her (anti)heroine, Alex, arrives at Yale brimming with the possibility of a second chance after a horrific upbringing and adolescence, the pain of survivorship—including a recent homicide, still unsolved—all over her. There is, of course, a catch: the mysterious financiers of her new education expect Alex to spy on the multiple secret societies across campus. What will happen when Alex finds herself being drawn in past the point of no return—and when she discovers that those secret societies do more than just dabble in magic that can raise the dead? Full of shocking revelations and jaw-dropping descriptions, this is the perfect scary read for an adventurous reader.

    Toil and Trouble (A Memoir), Augusten Burroughs
    You may recall the memoir Running with Scissors, about Augusten Burroughs’ chaotic upbringing, in which he was abandoned by his mother to be raised by her psychiatrist. But Augusten had more twists up his sleeve to share, including the fact that he is a witch, descended from a long line of people with uncanny abilities. Written in his typical hilarious but poignant style, this story won’t give you nightmares (other than the kind you might discuss in a therapist’s office) but it will shock and surprise you with each passing page.

    Middlegame, by Seanan Maguire
    A thrilling, sharply-written sci-fi thriller about two people, Roger and Dodger, who meet as children—except, they don’t actually ‘meet’. They communicate through one another’s minds, part of some invisible inexplicable connection the two of them share that no one else can see. But that connection is not invisible, nor inexplicable—it’s scientific, deliberate, and quite diabolical. They aren’t really ‘children’ at all, but pawns in an experiment devised by an alchemist who believes that the secret to true power—and the key to a lost city—relies on Roger and Dodger being kept apart. As Roger and Dodger grow, become determined to meet, and then determine that being close could endanger the entire world, each page brings a new revelation written in perfect, almost alchemical prose.

    The Water Dancer, by Ta Nehisi-Coates
    Another paranormal story about powers beyond a character’s control. In this stunning fiction debut from celebrated nonfiction writer Coates, readers will meet Hiram, who is blessed—and cursed—with a power that has saved his life after almost drowning. He has no memory of his mother, who was sold and separated from him. All he knows is that he is going to escape his bondage, and that this power will help him. A sweeping saga that spans the US, describing its original sin of slavery as witnessed through Hiram’s eyes, The Water Dancer is full of shock and suspense, perhaps the most important of which is that we continue to be shocked by the atrocities of slavery, despite hearing them over and over again—making this novel even more essential reading.

    Imaginary Friend, by Stephen Chbosky
    Might I interest you in a bit of horror for your Halloween? When a single mom and her seven year-old son settle in a small town, the hope is that they can just blend in. Forget about the past: the abusive husband she escaped, and how long they’ve spent on the run. But when the child goes missing, his mother fears the worst. More than merely a shocking plot, Chbosky’s emotional prose threatens to reveal the worst truths about ourselves…but the plot itself is shocking, too, especially when the child returns unharmed—save the imaginary friend inside his head.

    Wild Game, by Adrienne Brodeur
    Some stories are so shocking, they have to be fictional, right? Not this memoir, about a girl who becomes her mother’s accomplice in keeping secret an affair with her father’s closet friend. The relationships daughters and mothers share can be magical and mysterious, as Adrienne learns through her experiences worshiping and fearing her own mother, Malabar, especially as the affair in which she is a participant reaches a calamitous, shocking crescendo.

    After the Flood, by Kassandra Montag
    The world is flooding. That’s not just what the science says, that’s what has already happened in this speculative debut thriller in which a woman is reeling from the abduction of her daughter by her own father while their home flooded in Nebraska. It’s seven years later and Myra is still searching for Row, the daughter she lost, all while trying to care for Pearl, the daughter she has left…in a world of water, where society has crumbled beneath the waves. Desperate for hope, Myra will do anything to reunite her family, but will it be worth the violence and betrayal? Seriously, this story has shocker after shocker, and just when you think you know how it will end, the tide turns.

    The Chestnut Man, by Soren Sveistrup
    Scandinavian thriller fans, meet: the Chestnut Man. In Copenhagen, he is killing seemingly at whim, leaving behind tokens of his villainy in the form of dolls made of matchsticks and chestnuts. When fingerprints are found on one of the dolls, a team of detectives with an axe to grind must team up and find the killer. What you think is a straight procedural murder mystery is full of layers and depth—with a female detective at the helm, and an ending that will almost shock the life out of you.

    The post 8 Suspenseful Stories to Tide You Over Until Halloween appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 2:30 pm on 2019/09/27 Permalink
    Tags: , Horror, no other worlds, , ,   

    Stephen King’s The Institute Sidelines the Multiverse for Real Life 

    Stephen King has made a career out of surprising us. Just when we had him pegged as a horror specialist, he veered off into more literary territory.

    After a near-death experience and a premature retirement announcement, he launched into the most productive period of his life.

    And just when he’s got us conditioned to look for connections to the King multiverse links in everything he writes, he drops The Institute, a novel that seems sure to be a perfect throwback to his ’80s heyday, crammed full of overt references to other King books featuring nefarious government scientists carrying out unspeakable experiments—but which actually stands (almost) entirely alone.

    Classic King

    The Institute initially seems like a slam-dunk for multiverse tie-ins—its bones are the stuff of classic Stephen King. The extended opening of the novel, which tells the rambling story of Tim Jamieson, a former Florida cop trying to figure out his next steps after losing his job under a cloud of controversy, has the unhurried pace and character focus of King’s small town-centric novels like Needful Things or The Tommyknockers. When we leave Tim working as a “night knocker” for the small local police force in DuPray, South Carolina, we pick up the story of Luke Ellis, an off-the-charts brilliant kid with a touch of telekinesis. Just as Luke is making plans for early entry into the Ivy League, his parents are murdered and he’s kidnapped and brought to the titular Institute, where he and other kids with mild telekinetic and telepathic abilities are imprisoned and experimented on—echoing both the psychic kid at the center of The Shining and the nefarious government agency that produced the pyrotechnic tyke on the run in Firestarter. Likewise, King centers this story on children—their fierce, surprising courage and sense of loyalty—such that the moment you meet the ragtag crew locked up in the Institute, you can’t help but be reminded of It.

    Real World Links

    But no: King swerves away from the intricate universe he’s been building for the last few decades and writes a robust, thrilling story that is focused on a slightly askew version of our own reality, and taking the opportunity to comment on some of its darkest parts. This is a story about the imprisonment and torture of children, after all—kids in cages, to rip a term from the headlines. Luke and his fellow exceptional kids are subjected to endless indignities—tests, injections, surgeries, and light beatings designed to jolt their mental powers into high gear. The staff at the Institute, with one exception, regard them less ass humans and more as lab animals, employing a combination of violence and bribery to keep them in line. Good behavior earns the kids tokens that can be used for candy, drugs and alcohol, or limited computer access. Obstinante behavior earns them a slap—or a whole lot worse.

    Eventually, the kids can look forward to graduating from the Institute’s relatively comfortable “Front Half” to the mysterious “Back Half,” from which no one returns. The parallels to the current refugee crisis in America—the novel’s children are being held in pseudo-prisons and treated like their humanity is inconsequential—are impossible to ignore. The potential links back to King’s larger fictional universe (the most obvious being whether the Institute is connected to or an evolution of the Shop from Firestarter and The Stand) are left out in favor of foregrounded links to our own all-too-real one.

    The Deep State

    As he’s condemning adults for treating their charges at the Institute poorly, King also takes care to position children as our best hope for a better future. As an author, he’s always displayed an immense faith in children—their innocence, their innate morality, and their inherent power—and he leans into that theme here (the novel is dedicated to his grandchildren). Like the genial sociopaths working at the Institute, it’s easy for us to forget Luke Ellis is a genius as he descends into the madness of the facility and becomes numb to its constant abuse and emotional exhaustion. As Luke loses the friends he’s made to Back Half one-by-one, he uses the new abilities the experiments have unlocked within him to risk a daring escape, and it doesn’t feel like too much of a spoiler to say that, should he make it, he’ll need the help of trustworthy adults to help those left behind (there’s a reason the novel begins with Tim’s story, after all).

    To say more would be revealing too much, but the ending, when it arrives, is unexpected and cathartic—and then King offers a sobering twist that puts a whole spin on the entire story, forcing you to question your own assumptions and attitudes. The fundamental question at the novel’s core isn’t about the poor treatment of specific people—even children—but one of fundamental morality: what are we willing to do to others, or to allow to happen to others, in order to keep ourselves safe?

    If The Institute doesn’t link into the King Multiverse (a vague mention of the town of ‘Salem’s Lot is its only relation to the author’s larger body of work), it seems the decision was made with sobering intent. It’s too easy, sometimes, if we’re reminded that what we’re reading is only part of a story.

    The Institute is available now.

    The post Stephen King’s <i>The Institute</i> Sidelines the Multiverse for Real Life appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 5:00 pm on 2019/08/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Horror, , , ,   

    Don’t Miss It: An Excerpt from Stephen King’s Upcoming Novel The Institute 

    Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a riveting story with echoes of some of his greatest and most terrifying themes—from telekinesis, to children confronting forces of unfathomable evil. We’re thrilled to share an excerpt with our readers.

    The Institute Synopsis:

    In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did. In this most sinister of institutions, the staff is ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. As each new victim disappears, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

    As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of ItThe Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

    The Institute Excerpt:

    With the essay included, the SAT test lasted four hours, but there was a merciful break in the middle. Luke sat on a bench in the high school’s lobby, munching the sandwiches his mother had packed for him and wishing for a book. He had brought Naked Lunch, but one of the proctors appropriated it (along with his phone and everyone else’s), telling Luke it would be returned to him later. The guy also riffled through the pages, looking either for dirty pictures or a crib sheet or two.

    While he was eating his Snackimals, he became aware of several other test-takers standing around him. Big boys and girls, high school juniors and seniors.

    “Kid,” one of them asked, “what the hell are you doing here?”

    “Taking the test,” Luke said. “Same as you.”

    They considered this. One of the girls said, “Are you a genius? Like in a movie?”

    “No,” Luke said, smiling, “but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.”

    They laughed, which was good. One of the boys held up his palm, and Luke slapped him five. “Where are you going? What school?”

    “MIT, if I get in,” Luke said. Which was disingenuous; he had already been granted provisional admission to both schools of his choice, contingent on doing well today. Which wasn’t going to be much of a problem. So far, the test had been a breeze. It was the kids surrounding him that he found intimidating. In the fall, he would be in classes filled with kids like these, kids much older and twice his size, and of course they would all be looking at him.

    One of the girls—a pretty redhead—asked him if he’d gotten the hotel question in the math section.

    “The one about Aaron?” Luke asked. “Yeah, pretty sure I did.”

    “What did you say was the right choice, can you remember?”

    The question had been how to figure how much some dude named Aaron would have to pay for his motel room for x number of nights if the rate was $99.95 per night, plus 8% tax, plus an additional one-time charge of five bucks, and of course Luke remembered. It was a slightly nasty question because of the how much factor. The answer wasn’t a number, it was an equation.

    “It was B. Look.” He took out his pen and wrote on his lunch bag: 1.08(99.5x) + 5.

    “Are you sure?” she asked. “I had A.” She bent, took Luke’s bag—he caught a whiff of her perfume, lilac, delicious—and wrote: (99.5 + 0.08x) + 5.

    “Excellent equation,” Luke said, “but that’s how the people who make these tests screw you at the drive-thru.” He tapped her equation. “Yours only reflects a one-night stay. It also doesn’t account for the room tax.”

    She groaned.

    “It’s okay,” Luke said. “You probably got the rest of them.”

    “Maybe you’re wrong and she’s right,” one of the boys said. It was the one who’d slapped Luke five.

    She shook her head. “The kid’s right. I messed up the fucking tax. I suck.”

    Luke watched her walk away, her head drooping. One of the boys went after her and put an arm around her waist. Luke envied him.

    One of the others, a tall drink of water wearing designer glasses, sat down next to Luke. “Is it weird?” he asked. “Being you, I mean?”

    Luke considered this. “Sometimes,” he said. “Usually it’s just, you know, life.”

    One of the proctors leaned out and rang a hand bell. “Let’s go, kids.”

    Luke got up with some relief and tossed his lunch sack in a trash barrel by the door to the gym. He looked at the pretty redhead a final time, and as he went in, the barrel shimmied three inches to the left.

    The Institute is on B&N bookshelves September 10.

    The post Don’t Miss It: An Excerpt from Stephen King’s Upcoming Novel <i>The Institute</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2019/06/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , Horror, small town terror, , ,   

    The Outsider: Two Styles of Stephen King in One Book 

    Stephen King is well into his fourth decade of being so successful—not to mention preternaturally skilled—that he can write pretty much whatever book he wants to and pull it off. For artists, this is known as the “Imperial Phase“—the period of a career during which their powers are at their creative peak.

    You can nitpick over when King entered his own Imperial Phase (I’d put it sometime around the release of The Stand), but matter how you measure it, his seemingly never-ending Imperial Phase is one of the most impressive in literary history. Where some writers would coast along, happy to write the same book again and again, King has used his freedom from commercial concerns to push his boundaries, try different genres, and tell different kinds of stories. While some of these experiments have succeeded more than others, they have made it impossible to classify King in terms of genre—while his name is still synonymous with a certain brand of American Gothic horror, that’s hardly all he can do, and do well.

    King’s more recent work has explore and largely succeed in other genres, especially crime fiction and police procedurals like the Bill Hodges trilogy, which began with Mr. Mercedes, but horror is still in his bones. Perhaps that’s why his most recent novel, 2018’s The Outsider, was so satisfying: it offers a perfect blend of his early horror style and his more recent procedural work.

    King plays a trick on readers who gotten used to the rhythms of his recent procedurals: The Outsider begins with the solving of a crime, seeming of a piece with his recent books. Detective Ralph Anderson of Flint City, Oklahoma, arrives at a Little League game fixing to arrest the beloved coach, Terry Maitland, for the sickening abuse and murder of a child. Anderson makes the arrest in public, and instructs the officers to cuff Maitland’s hands in front of him against protocol, because he’s angry—he liked Terry Maitland, and more importantly, the town trusted him with their children. But despite Maitland’s protests of innocence, the evidence against him is iron-clad.

    King dives into the investigation and work that goes into the building the case against Maitland, and its a pleasure to watch a writer of his skill make what could be an off-brand Law and Order riff into an engrossing look at the nuts and bolts of police work. It’s strong material, and if King had decided to stay in the realm of the crime genre exclusively, The Outsider would still be a great book. But it’s no spoiler to say that he doesn’t; he pulls the rug out from under his detective when Maitland reveals a perfect alibi—he’s been captured on video at a faraway location during the time of the murder. This maddening problem drives the bulk of the narrative—what’s a cop to do if the suspect’s alibi is as airtight as the evidence against him?

    If the first section of the book is in line with the top-notch King crime writing King has been dabbling in for the last half-decade or so, the rest harkens back to the grand horror of his blood-drenched 1980s heyday. As Anderson teams up with investigator Holly Gibney (on loan from the Bill Hodges novels) and begins to dig deeper into Maitland’s crime, the true nature of the evil they’re dealing with begins to take terrifying shape. The results are something akin to a mature take on It, another story about an evil that preys on children and masquerades as something else entirely. The difference this time around—in keeping with the procedural roots of the story—is that the heroes that must take a stand against it are adults, not children.

    Another callback to 1980s King? The book is off-the-charts terrifying. King has always had a knack for creating monsters that feel primal and eternal: always lurking in the shadows right over your shoulder, barely glimpsed and never understood until it’s too late. The malevolent evil at work here is no exception.

    If there’s a thread running through all of King’s books, it’s the straightforward realism he favors as he builds his worlds and characters, and which makes it all the more disturbing when things begin to go supernaturally sideways. He blends pop-culture, brand names, and current politics with ageless class concerns, brewing up tactile fictional universes that feel real enough to touch, even if they are infested with monsters and dark magical forces. It’s a trick he polishes to a high shine in The Outsider. For some writers, incorporating of-the-minute movements like Black Lives Matter or contemporary presidential politics into a story about the small-town concerns of regular people would feel like the author hopping onto his soapbox. For King, it feels like the bones and sinew of the story, as much now as it did when all of his books seemed to be set in middle-class towns in Maine.

    If the buzz over the September release of The Institute is any indication, King’s Imperial Phase shows no signs of ending. Certainly with The Outsider, it seems to have allowed him to coin a new genre. Call it Procedural Horror.

    The Outsider is now available in paperback.

    The post <i>The Outsider</i>: Two Styles of Stephen King in One Book appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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