NIGHT SHIFT

Twenty New England horror shorts by Stephen King (and a painfully lofty introduction by old pro John D. MacDonald). King, of course, is the 30-year-old zillionaire who poured the pig's blood on Carrie, woke the living dead in 'Salem's Lot, and gave a bad name to precognition in The Shining. The present collection rounds up his magazine pieces, mainly from Cavalier, and also offers nine stories not previously published. He is as effective in the horror vignette as in the novel. His big opening tale, "Jerusalem's Lot"—about a deserted village—is obviously his first shot at 'Salem's Lot and, in its dependence on a gigantic worm out of Poe and Lovecraft, it misses the novel's gorged frenzy of Vampireville. But most of the other tales go straight through you like rats' fangs. "Graveyard Shift" is about cleaning out a long unused factory basement that has a subbasement—a hideous colony of fat giant blind legless rats that are mutating into bats. It's a story you may wish you hadn't read. You'll enjoy the laundry mangle that becomes possessed and begins pressing people into bedsheets (don't think about that too much), a flu bug that destroys mankind and leaves only a beach blanket party of teenagers ("Night Surf"), and a beautiful lady vampire and her seven-year-old daughter abroad in a Maine blizzard ("One for the Road"). Bizarre dripperies, straight out of Tales from the Crypt comics. . . a leprous distillation.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 1977

ISBN: 0385129912

Page Count: 367

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1977

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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