Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 396

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Crime fiction, superpower fantasy, and sharp satire about sexism and ageism mesh for a satisfying read.

THE CHANGE

Menopause brings more gains than losses for three women in this entertaining thriller.

When menopause arrives for the three women who are the protagonists in this book, they don’t bother with estrogen therapy or worry about chin hairs. They develop superpowers. Harriett Osborne kicks her high-powered advertising career and her dweeby husband to the curb and lets her gift for botany flourish, growing plants for pleasure and for poison (and to really annoy the head of her homeowners association). Jo Levison is first alarmed by the rage that literally sets fire flowing from her hands—hot flashes with a vengeance—but she learns to channel it and starts a successful fitness and self-defense business. Nessa James’ emerging gift is a somber one that’s been handed down by the women in her family: The dead speak to her, but only the dead who need help. All three women live in the manicured little beach town of Mattauk, where bad things aren’t supposed to happen. But when Jo and Harriett accompany Nessa to a secluded beach, where one of those voices is calling to her, they find the body of a young woman decomposing in a garbage bag. And, Nessa says, hers is not the only ghost there. The response from local police is barely apathetic; the cops seem to be protecting someone, or all the someones who live behind gates at the high-priced end of the island. That just makes the trio push harder to find out what’s going on. What they uncover echoes the Jeffrey Epstein case and too many other cases of powerful men exploiting women and getting away with it—or maybe not. The novel takes on serious issues but doesn’t take itself too seriously; there’s plenty of mordant humor, a suspenseful plot, and mostly brisk pacing.

Crime fiction, superpower fantasy, and sharp satire about sexism and ageism mesh for a satisfying read.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-314404-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more