Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars

by Stephen King


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439192566
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 11/09/2010
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Institute, Elevation, The Outsider, Sleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King) and the Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and an AT&T Audience Network original television series). His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

Read an Excerpt

- 1 -

The one thing nobody asked in casual conversation, Darcy thought in the days after she found what she found in the garage, was this: How’s your marriage? They asked how was your weekend and how was your trip to Florida and how’s your health and how are the kids; they even asked how’s life been treatin you, hon? But nobody asked how’s your marriage?

Good, she would have answered the question before that night. Everything’s fine.

She had been born Darcellen Madsen (Darcellen, a name only parents besotted with a freshly purchased book of baby names could love), in the year John F. Kennedy was elected President. She was raised in Freeport, Maine, back when it was a town instead of an adjunct to L.L.Bean, America’s first superstore, and half a dozen other oversized retail operations of the sort that are called “outlets” (as if they were sewer drains rather than shopping locations). She went to Freeport High School, and then to Addison Business School, where she learned secretarial skills. She was hired by Joe Ransome Chevrolet, which by 1984, when she left the company, was the largest car dealership in Portland. She was plain, but with the help of two marginally more sophisticated girlfriends, learned enough makeup skills to make herself pretty on workdays and downright eye-catching on Friday and Saturday nights, when a bunch of them liked to go out for margaritas at The Lighthouse or Mexican Mike’s (where there was live music).

In 1982, Joe Ransome hired a Portland accounting firm to help him figure out his tax situation, which had become complicated (“The kind of problem you want to have,” Darcy overheard him tell one of the senior salesmen). A pair of briefcase-toting men came out, one old and one young. Both wore glasses and conservative suits; both combed their short hair neatly away from their foreheads in a way that made Darcy think of the photographs in her mother’s MEMORIES OF ’54 senior yearbook, the one with the image of a boy cheerleader holding a megaphone to his mouth stamped on its faux-leather cover.

The younger accountant was Bob Anderson. She got talking with him on their second day at the dealership, and in the course of their conversation, asked him if he had any hobbies. Yes, he said, he was a numismatist.

He started to tell her what that was and she said, “I know. My father collects Lady Liberty dimes and buffalo-head nickels. He says they’re his numismatical hobby-horse. Do you have a hobby-horse, Mr. Anderson?”

He did: wheat pennies. His greatest hope was to some day come across a 1955 double-date, which was—

But she knew that, too. The ’55 double-date was a mistake. A valuable mistake.

Young Mr. Anderson, he of the thick and carefully combed brown hair, was delighted with this answer. He asked her to call him Bob. Later, during their lunch—which they took on a bench in the sunshine behind the body shop, a tuna on rye for him and a Greek salad in a Tupperware bowl for her—he asked if she would like to go with him on Saturday to a street sale in Castle Rock. He had just rented a new apartment, he said, and was looking for an armchair. Also a TV, if someone was selling a good one at a fair price. A good one at a fair price was a phrase with which she would grow comfortably familiar in the years to come.

He was as plain as she was, just another guy you’d pass on the street without noticing, and would never have makeup to make him prettier… except that day on the bench, he did. His cheeks flushed when he asked her out, just enough to light him up a little and give him a glow.

“No coin collections?” she teased.

He smiled, revealing even teeth. Small teeth, nicely cared for, and white. It never occurred to her that the thought of those teeth could make her shudder—why would it?

“If I saw a nice set of coins, of course I’d look,” he said.

“Especially wheat pennies?” Teasing, but just a little.

“Especially those. Would you like to come, Darcy?”

She came. And she came on their wedding night, too. Not terribly often after that, but now and then. Often enough to consider herself normal and fulfilled.

In 1986, Bob got a promotion. He also (with Darcy’s encouragement and help) started up a small mail-order business in collectible American coins. It was successful from the start, and in 1990, he added baseball trading cards and old movie memorabilia. He kept no stock of posters, one-sheets, or window cards, but when people queried him on such items, he could almost always find them. Actually it was Darcy who found them, using her overstuffed Rolodex in those pre-computer days to call collectors all over the country. The business never got big enough to become full-time, and that was all right. Neither of them wanted such a thing. They agreed on that as they did on the house they eventually bought in Pownal, and on the children when it came time to have them. They agreed. When they didn’t agree, they compromised. But mostly they agreed. They saw eye-to-eye.

How’s your marriage?

It was good. A good marriage. Donnie was born in 1986—she quit her job to have him, and except for helping with Anderson Coins & Collectibles never held another one—and Petra was born in 1988. By then, Bob Anderson’s thick brown hair was thinning at the crown, and by 2002, the year Darcy’s Macintosh computer finally swallowed her Rolodex whole, he had a large shiny bald spot back there. He experimented with different ways of combing what was left, which only made the bald spot more conspicuous, in her opinion. And he irritated her by trying two of the magical grow-it-all-back formulas, the kind of stuff sold by shifty-looking hucksters on high cable late at night (Bob Anderson became something of a night owl as he slipped into middle age). He didn’t tell her he’d done it, but they shared a bedroom and although she wasn’t tall enough to see the top shelf of the closet unaided, she sometimes used a stool to put away his “Saturday shirts,” the tees he wore for puttering in the garden. And there they were: a bottle of liquid in the fall of 2004, a bottle of little green gel capsules a year later. She looked the names up on the Internet, and they weren’t cheap. Of course magic never is, she remembered thinking.

But, irritated or not, she had held her peace about the magic potions, and also about the used Chevy Suburban he for some reason just had to buy in the same year that gas prices really started to climb. As he had held his, she supposed (as she knew, actually), when she had insisted on good summer camps for the kids, an electric guitar for Donnie (he had played for two years, long enough to get surprisingly good, and then had simply stopped), horse rentals for Petra. A successful marriage was a balancing act—that was a thing everyone knew. A successful marriage was also dependent on a high tolerance for irritation—this was a thing Darcy knew. As the Stevie Winwood song said, you had to roll widdit, baby.

She rolled with it. So did he.

In 2004, Donnie went off to college in Pennsylvania. In 2006, Petra went to Colby, just up the road in Waterville. By then, Darcy Madsen Anderson was forty-six years old. Bob was forty-nine, and still doing Cub Scouts with Stan Morin, a construction contractor who lived half a mile down the road. She thought her balding husband looked rather amusing in the khaki shorts and long brown socks he wore for the monthly Wildlife Hikes, but never said so. His bald spot had become well entrenched; his glasses had become bifocals; his weight had spun up from one-eighty into the two-twenty range. He had become a partner in the accounting firm—Benson and Bacon was now Benson, Bacon & Anderson. They had traded the starter home in Pownal for a more expensive one in Yarmouth. Her breasts, formerly small and firm and high (her best feature, she’d always thought; she’d never wanted to look like a Hooters waitress) were now larger, not so firm, and of course they dropped down when she took off her bra at night—what else could you expect when you were closing in on the half-century mark?—but every so often Bob would still come up behind her and cup them. Every so often there was the pleasant interlude in the upstairs bedroom overlooking their peaceful two-acre patch of land, and if he was a little quick on the draw and often left her unsatisfied, often was not always, and the satisfaction of holding him afterward, feeling his warm man’s body as he drowsed away next to her… that satisfaction never failed. It was, she supposed, the satisfaction of knowing they were still together when so many others were not; the satisfaction of knowing that as they approached their Silver Anniversary, the course was still steady as she goes.

In 2009, twenty-five years down the road from their I-do’s in a small Baptist church that no longer existed (there was now a parking lot where it had stood), Donnie and Petra threw them a surprise party at The Birches on Castle View. There were over fifty guests, champagne (the good stuff), steak tips, a four-tier cake. The honorees danced to Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose,” just as they had at their wedding. The guests applauded Bob’s breakaway move, one she had forgotten until she saw it again, and its still-airy execution gave her a pang. Well it should have; he had grown a paunch to go with the embarrassing bald spot (embarrassing to him, at least), but he was still extremely light on his feet for an accountant.

But all of that was just history, the stuff of obituaries, and they were still too young to be thinking of those. It ignored the minutiae of marriage, and such ordinary mysteries, she believed (firmly believed), were the stuff that validated the partnership. The time she had eaten bad shrimp and vomited all night long, sitting on the edge of the bed with her sweaty hair clinging to the nape of her neck and tears rolling down her flushed cheeks and Bob sitting beside her, patiently holding the basin and then taking it to the bathroom, where he emptied and rinsed it after each ejection—so the smell of it wouldn’t make her even sicker, he said. He had been warming up the car to take her to the Emergency Room at six the next morning when the horrible nausea had finally begun to abate. He had called in sick at B, B & A; he’d also canceled a trip to White River so he could sit with her in case the sickness came back.

That kind of thing worked both ways; one year’s sauce for the goose was next year’s sauce for the gander. She had sat with him in the waiting room at St. Stephen’s—back in ’94 or ’95, this had been—waiting for the biopsy results after he had discovered (in the shower) a suspicious lump in his left armpit. The biopsy had been negative, the diagnosis an infected lymph node. The lump had lingered for another month or so, then went away on its own.

The sight of a crossword book on his knees glimpsed through the half-open bathroom door as he sat on the commode. The smell of cologne on his cheeks, which meant that the Suburban would be gone from the driveway for a day or two and his side of the bed would be empty for a night or two because he had to straighten out someone’s accounting in New Hampshire or Vermont (B, B & A now had clients in all the northern New England states). Sometimes the smell meant a trip to look at someone’s coin collection at an estate sale, because not all the numismatic buying and selling that went with their side-business could be accomplished by computer, they both understood that. The sight of his old black suitcase, the one he would never give up no matter how much she nagged, in the front hall. His slippers at the end of the bed, one always tucked into the other. The glass of water on his endtable, with the orange vitamin pill next to it, on that month’s issue of Coin & Currency Collecting. How he always said, “More room out than there is in” after belching and “Look out, gas attack!” after he farted. His coat on the first hook in the hall. The reflection of his toothbrush in the mirror (he would still be using the same one he’d had when they got married, Darcy believed, if she didn’t regularly replace it). The way he dabbed his lips with his napkin after every second or third bite of food. The careful arrangement of camping gear (always including an extra compass) before he and Stan set out with yet another bunch of nine-year-olds on the hike up Dead Man’s Trail—a dangerous and terrifying trek that took them through the woods behind the Golden Grove Mall and came out at Weinberg’s Used Car City. The look of his nails, always short and clean. The taste of Dentyne on his breath when they kissed. These things and ten thousand others comprised the secret history of the marriage.

She knew he must have his own history of her, everything from the cinnamon-flavored ChapStick she used on her lips in the winter to the smell of her shampoo when he nuzzled the back of her neck (that nuzzle didn’t come so often now, but it still came) to the click of her computer at two in the morning on those two or three nights a month when sleep for some reason jilted her.

Now it was twenty-seven years, or—she had amused herself figuring this one day using the calculator function on her computer—nine thousand eight hundred and fifty-five days. Almost a quarter of a million hours and over fourteen million minutes. Of course some of that time he’d been gone on business, and she’d taken a few trips herself (the saddest to be with her parents in Minneapolis after her kid sister Brandolyn had died in a freak accident), but mostly they had been together.

Did she know everything about him? Of course not. No more than he knew everything about her—how she sometimes (mostly on rainy days or on those nights when the insomnia was on her) gobbled Butterfingers or Baby Ruths, for instance, eating the candybars even after she no longer wanted them, even after she felt sick to her stomach. Or how she thought the new mailman was sort of cute. There was no knowing everything, but she felt that after twenty-seven years, they knew all the important things. It was a good marriage, one of the fifty percent or so that kept working over the long haul. She believed that in the same unquestioning way she believed that gravity would hold her to the earth when she walked down the sidewalk.

Until that night in the garage.

© 2010 Stephen King

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“King [is] the most wonderfully gruesome man on the planet… The pages practically turn themselves.”—Carol Memmott, USA Today

Full Dark, No Stars is an extraordinary collection, thrillingly merciless, and a career high point.”—The Telegraph (UK)

“A page turner.… King … seems able to write compact tales or gargantuan ones with equal ease.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Might yield another classic… Solid psychological chillers.”Columbus Dispatch

“Just as gripping as his epic novels.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Full Dark, No Stars 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1595 reviews.
GEORGIAMOON More than 1 year ago
King's short stories focus sharply and to the point on the horror without the delayed reaction from his longer more wordy novels. FULL DARK, NO STARS portrays lack of soul, I think; How else could one explain the horrific, inhumane things that happen in these stories? "1922" is the story of a farmer who murders his wife for no better reason than to stop her from selling off their land. Her excruciatingly painful death lets loose the devil that will get him in the end. In "Big Driver", after a middle-aged woman is attacked on an out-of-the-way back road and left for dead, a thirst for revenge over powers her. She finds herself suddenly capable of committing bone-chilling acts to get even. "A Good Marriage" tells us about a wife who discovers the man she's been married to for 27 years is not the man she thought she married and all that that entails. "Fair Extension" is a horrifying tale of a dying man's resentment, and misfortunes over powering him and unleashing on his thought to be best friend who stole his high school sweetheart. There is hell to pay.
Kealan_Patrick_Burke More than 1 year ago
"A Good Marriage" poses the question, however deeply you wish to consider it: Do we ever really know each other? A similar question sums up Full Dark, No Stars, and that is: Do we ever really know ourselves? Unlike King's previous collections, there is a very strong unifying theme at play here, and that is a study of how people react when pushed, or how we handle the ugly choices we're given. In all of these stories, people find themselves forced to face sides of themselves they might never have known existed if not for the intervention of exterior forces. In "1922? Wilfred James finds himself driven to murder by the threat of losing the only thing he truly knows. In "Big Driver" a rapist awakens the primal vengeance of an otherwise mild-mannered writer. In "Fair Extension" a man is asked to condemn another for the chance at a new life. And in "A Good Marriage" an ordinarily housewife is forced to make the ultimate choice when she finds out her loving husband is not what he has pretended to be. Take away the safety and security, the gravity we take for granted and you truly see what we are behind the mask. Good people, King says, may only be good as long as they're allowed to be. There is always a high and a low road, the good and the bad. But when the line of demarcation is not clear, when the gray area is a blur, and when we stand to benefit more from taking the path that will ultimately bring horror to others but an element of peace to ourselves, what do we do? In Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King offers four unflinchingly brutal scenarios in response to that question. It is a grim and often ugly journey of discovery, but as always when it comes to King, one worth taking, if only to see what we look like when the masks come off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Stephen Kings books. This one was no dissapointment. I enjoyed it and could not put it down. My only problem is the cost. Ebook (nook) is $3.33 more expensive than paperback. What happened to, as the Nook salesmen said to me before my nook purchase, "ebooks are less expensive than paper books"? I'm finding ebooks are more expensive than many, many, many paperbacks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite King collection. 1922 is extremely character driven. I really rooted for the two men out on a farm and thus the things that happened to them felt like they were happening to me. Big Driver was about the same for me really. A Fair Extension is kind of sinfully nice. A Good Marriage is also very satisffying. There's really no weak story here. 
CK84 More than 1 year ago
While I did not "love" all the short stories in this novella, Stephen King has returned to what i feel he does best and that is his short stories. The characters are well developed and for the most part the tales are highly entertaining. King lovers will love it and King may even bring back some readers he has lsot over the past few years.
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
Why are you wasting time reading this review when you could be reading the book instead? That is really all I need to say about Full Dark, No Stars. I am more than impressed with these stories by Stephen King. My review is not going to make you read the book. You either like Stephen King or you don't. This book will please most if not all of his fans and just may persuade some of those who don't enjoy the works of Stephen King. If you are looking for "heart-warming" tales for this upcoming holiday season, look elsewhere. But if you want some dark, practically "pitch black" stories, this is the book for you.
Certifried More than 1 year ago
This book was, thankfully, short at only 304 (nook) pages. The only story that I felt was really good was A Good Marriage. The others had the potential, but I don't feel Mr. King ever fully developed the stories. I don't mind that the endings weren't, I've always been one who enjoys the STORY, the JOURNEY. The characters were rich, and very vivid, but the lack of development of the story just left me feeling let down.
LadyHester More than 1 year ago
Stephen King is the master of short story fiction. Three out of four of the stories in the book featured terrible violence to women, a topic I find difficult to read. King takes you right to the heart of evil and forces you to stand witness. He sums it up best in an afterword. He wanted to take ordinary characters and place them in extraordinary circumstances to see what they would do. You will find out if you read this extremely excellent book!
CyndiANC More than 1 year ago
I read this in three short evenings. Couldn't put it down. My favorite of the four was the shortest of all, Fair Extension, and I wished it was longer. Be prepared from the very first story though, they are all disturbing, but necessarily so and he spends just the right amount of time on it and moves on. If you are a fan of Rose Madder/Gerald's Game then you will like Good Marriage and Big Driver. Seemingly normal women overcoming great obstacles with well-thought-out planning and courage with a Stephen King spin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed Stephen King books for many years and this holds a high place as one of my favorites. The first short story is the most beautifully written it makes you question the capabilities of your own sanity and is a tale of heart break leaving you thinking that if one thing had gone differently the outcome might have left some of those who deserved to survive.
Helene Mack More than 1 year ago
It's a great book, very hard to put down. I read the 1st page out loud and needless to say 3 people in the room ha their jaws on the floor.
Juliaj44 More than 1 year ago
This is not what I was expectlng. However, it made me think. I love the way Steve pulls you in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks !
cutegurl More than 1 year ago
Can not beleive this job is really out there, crazy life this guy had.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So addicting to read! Couldn't put it down.
Kerry_Nietz More than 1 year ago
I purchased this collection after a friend recommended “A Good Marriage” to me as an example of a story that did a good job of stretching the tension throughout. I’ve read and enjoyed a fair share of Stephen King stories in the past, but it has been awhile. This seemed the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with his universe. To start with, “A Good Marriage” is everything my friend said. The premise is great, the tension strong, and the climax and resolution fit the plot. The other three stories, though, felt a little lackluster—enough that I wondered if they would’ve been published at all, were in not for the author. The other “star” in the collection is “Big Driver.” That story follows a woman who is raped and then exacts her revenge. It has a heroine that it is easy to sympathize with, and a villain that you want to see get his comeuppance. The subject matter made it difficult to read, though. Plus, the final revenge almost seemed too easy. (Anticlimactic, even.) Her puzzling out the perpetrator and his accomplishes was good stuff, though. I’m torn on “1922” too. I thought it was well written, but the plot could almost be summarized with “and so on.” Man kills his wife, covers it up, bad things happen, more bad things happen, and so on, and so on. The climax doesn’t seem to fit the crime. Also, the story is written from the killer’s perspective, so we feel like we should identify with him...yet there is no good reason to do so. He’s an awful, selfish person. The final story is “Fair Extension” and that one was, for me, the worst of the lot. The premise is interesting—a man makes the deal to give himself good fortune at the expense of another person (a friend?) getting bad fortune. But it became another “and so on” story where there is no real climax. It just sort of ends. I suspect King was trying to defy expectations with the story, and he certainly did that. But there ought to be some payoff at the end, even if it is a dark one.
SpeedSD More than 1 year ago
EXCEPTIONAL COLLECTION!!! I absolutely love a good Stephen King story. My favorites have always been his short stories. He is a master of the short story with good plot development and characters that are believable. These four stories are amazing for anyone that loves a good short (especially one from King). I read this collection several years ago and picked it back up this weekend because there are TWO stories in here that are coming out as movies -- one a lifetime movie and one for the big screen. I wanted to refresh my memory before I saw either of these as movies. 1922 is by far the goriest of the four. My favorite was probably "Big Driver," which is the one being turned into the lifetime movie. Again, this is not a new release from Stephen. Please make sure that this is not a collection you have already read. I saw some reviews of people that were angry because this is a re-release. I don't know how that happens if you just pay a little attention to what you are buying, so please just be aware. I have bad reviews when the review has nothing to do with the actual book's contents. Thanx Stephen for a great collection of stories. Your writing never ceases to amaze me. Can't wait to see if the movies do the stories any justice (with the exception of a few, they rarely do)! Can't wait for revival to come out! -- SPeeD
seldombites More than 1 year ago
I have come to expect a lot from Stephen King, especially his short stories and novellas, and I was not disappointed. The four stories in this anthology were all very well written, engaging, engrossing and (as one would expect from the King) just a little disturbing. The first story, 1922 is presented as the written confession of a farmer who, by murdering his wife, destroyed his son, his soul and his peace of mind. This tale demonstrates how, by our own actions, we can create for ourselves a hell on Earth long before we encounter any kind of divine punishment. The second story, Big Driver, is the best description of how it feels to be raped that I have read by someone who hasn't actually experienced this horror for themselves. It highlights the humiliation, the terror, the anger, the disgust, the burning need for revenge combined with the desperate desire to hide that is felt by many victims of this awful crime. The third story, Fair Extension, shows the lengths many of us are willing to go to in order to topple those of whom we are jealous and to put our own selfish interests ahead of the interests of those around us. Many of us are all too eager to do a deal with the devil, no trickery or bribery needed. The fourth, and final, story is called A Good Marriage. In my opinion, this is the best of the four. By reading this tale, we are asked just how well we can really know another person, even those nearest and dearest to us. What would we do if we found out our most-loved ones had been hiding a horrible secret from us, so terrible that we refused, at first, to believe it to be true? Could you suddenly stop loving someone who turned out to be evil? As is typical for Stephen King's works, these stories are enjoyable to read while they last, and stay in your mind, churning your thoughts, exciting your emotions and disturbing your peace long after they are finished. I have made no secret of the fact that King is one of my favourite authors, so it should come as no surprise to you that I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!
WindTalker More than 1 year ago
Good to see him back in good form. Couldn't put this book down after I started reading it. For whatever odd reason, I flipped to the back and was quickly drawn into "The Good Marriage". Do we REALLY know all we should to know about those we love - and those that proclaim their love for us? It seemed a tad voyeristic to watch the characters flesh-out and take on a life of their own. The rest of this collection was also compelling, Stephen King reading. He seems to whisper in your ear as you follow his prose. Got it for Christmas and have already read it twice. His fans will applaud with great satisfaction.
Sam2584 More than 1 year ago
I love the fact that this book is a collection of four separate stories. Each story is different from the next, and ends in a much different fashion. I loev Stephen King but sometimes the stories are so long that it takes a while to finish them, especially if you are lugging the book around. But this Nook book version was just the thing that I needed. It was the first ebook on my Nook and it was a great experience. This book is definitely a must read.
James Donegan More than 1 year ago
The stories grab you from the start and don't let go. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. What woulf you do?
AmieG on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A book of short stories that places ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and shows what happens. It is very interesting to see how Stephen King decides everyday people will act in these instances. Each story also shows how each person might have another type of person living within them, a person they never realized they could be. NOT multiple personalities, but someone they never thought they could actually be. Very good book.
SandraF on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Ho Hum. No building suspense; often no explanation for certain desvelopments in the various stories. Not classic King.
wearylibrarian on LibraryThing 10 months ago
These stories are very dark, even for King. This is probably the least favorite of all King's novels.