This book marks the first time Stephen King corroborated with his son Owen King, who is also a novelist. It takes the idea of a classic fairy tale and gives it the kind of spin that will leave you dizzy after you read it.
The reception has been mixed so far with some viewers arguing that the story has one too many plotholes.
If you're a fan of Stephen King's work, this book is not going to disappoint you. It features some of the classic elements of his books like a small town setting and the all-consuming suspense with some sci-fi and horror elements on top of it.
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One would think there's nothing connecting westerns to fantasy, yet here we are! The first novel of The Dark Tower series is in a class by itself among King's stories and in the world literature.
It's the first book in a series, you'll have to buy them all if you like this one.
Any fan of long journeys and series will surely love The Gunslinger. You'll travel with the protagonist to the unique world created by Stephen King.
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The Dark Tower
A coming-of-age story that revolves around friendship and overcoming hardships together, told against a bone-chilling eerie background with a terrifying plot.
Some critics claim parts of the novel to be "stretched" and not-believable.
This is one of the best Stephen King books in the horror genre believed to be paramount. Hardcore horror lovers worship it.
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The book is considerably long and will engulf you completely for quite some time.
Some episodes are said to drag out.
If you're a lover of epic stories with a whole variety of different characters you'll love The Stand by Stephen King.
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The Shining is a unique novel in a way that it raises some real social problems thus making the story more than just an average horror.
The pace is rather slow in this one.
A perfect book for those who love a mix of outer and inner conflicts with an immersing journey to a human's essence, mind, and psyche.
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What is it about Stephen King?
The King of Horror, The Master of Mystery, Stephen King is one of the brightest and most recognized authors alive. His multi-faceted, deeply psychological horror, mystery, and fantasy works are translated into more than 30 languages, every new movie adaptation is bound to incite huge craze among fans and has high chances to tear down cinemas with overflowing viewers. Stephen King is not just an author anymore, his talent and hard work made him into a cult. Every horror fan has a collection of Stephen King books on their shelves and in their e-Readers. Many of us fell in love with the genre thanks to this man.
Being almost 70 years old, Stephen King's been officially published for 50 of them, and many of his books were published multiple times throughout the years. Here is this review, we would like to talk about 5 novels many readers believe to be the best Stephen King books. We'll talk books plot (no spoilers, we swear!) and movie adaptations, publication peculiarities and a little bit of history behind some of them. Prepare yourself, for these monsters are real.
What Features to Compare
Stephen King is primarily known to the world for his horror novels, however, there is more to his works, they expand the genre horizons. Take The Dark Tower, for example. First and foremost, it's a fantasy novel series but it also has western elements, some sci-fi, and, of course, a bit of horror. The psychological thriller is another forte of King's. We live the lives of the characters, follow their internal struggles and changes in their psyche due to all the circumstances they find themselves in. We love together with them, we get scared, we believe. Then we crash together with them. The author himself says this:
“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
Maybe, this is what makes King's stories so good—he knows his readers. Be it a thriller, a fantasy, a fairy tale, or a crime story without an ounce of supernatural, we are known to the author enough for him to make us hooked. And we love it. This makes Stephen King a writer for almost any reader.
Today, there are a number of ways to read. Reading is not even strictly limited to, well, reading—you can now listen to audio books when you go jogging, for example, or travel, in the airplane, on the beach, anywhere. Another modern option is an e-Reader like Kindle, which offers a whole library in your pocket. At the same time, if you're more of a traditional reader and enjoy the smell of printing ink and the feeling of typography paper on your fingers, hardcovers and paperbacks are still out there. A paperback is a cheaper and lighter version perfect to carry around whereas hardbacks make wonderful gifts and look great on a shelf.
SERIES AND COLLECTIONS
The last thing to check before you buy and start reading is whether the story is a standalone novel or a part of a wider series. Speaking about Stephen King books, his only established cycle series is The Dark Tower consisting of seven main novels and two "additional" books. However, many novels in the list of Stephen King books bear a connection to The Dark Tower universe and to each other, although they are completely separate stories you can read separately. Additionally, there are around ten collections of stories published by the author and several non-fiction books.
Stephen King "Sleeping Beauty"
Not That Kind of Sleeping Beauty
Naturally, whenever someone hears about a sleeping beauty, the first thought that comes to mind would be either of a classic fairy tale about a beautiful princess being that has been enchanted to fall into an indefinite sleep and a handsome prince that rescues her from it with a kiss. The name of one of the most popular horror writers of our time is probably one of the last things you're going to envision after hearing that combination of words. Of course, Stephen King wouldn't be Stephen King without tricking you into complacency using such an innocuous title just to see the expectations of those who are either unfamiliar with his work or just a little bit too naive crumble.
As you should have probably figured out by now, the story of "Sleeping Beauties" has very little to do with a classic fairy tale, aside from inspiring the basis of the concept, and instead plays into the author's forte of creating suspenseful horror thrillers with a few sprinkles of sci-fi and fantasy on top of it.
Sleeping Beauties marks the first time Stephen King corroborated with his son Owen. The latter brought this idea to his father and the famous author was so impressed by it that he decided to immediately start working on it. The book was released on September 26, 2017. Of course, thanks to Stephen King's stellar reputation, Anonymous Content had purchased the television rights to the novel in April 2017, 5 months before the official release of the book.
A Small Town Epidemic
The novel unravels its setting and plot via following Clint and Lila Norcross, a married couple that lives in a small town of Dooling, an impoverished little settlement located in the Appalachian region. The husband works as a psychiatrist at the local women's prison while the wife serves as the town's sheriff. The two of them find themselves in the middle of an epidemic that makes the female population fall into a state of deep sleep where they are cocooned in an odd material. Any attempts to crack the cocoon open results in said women reacting in an aggressive, murderous manner. Due to that, the remaining women try their best to stay awake using any means at their disposal while some men accuse the women of bringing this disaster upon themselves.
Stephen King "The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger"
A Drop of Hell, a Touch of Strange
The Gunslinger is the first installment in the only official series in the Stephen King book list. King had been writing the series for almost 30 years, starting with short stories published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine that were combined into a book in 1982. That book was The Gunslinger. This is where the long journey began.
In this novel, we follow the last of the gunslingers, Roland Deschain on his quest to find a mysterious Man in Black who is supposed to know the road to the Dark Tower, the nexus of all universes. Throughout the story, Roland meets various people and we gradually learn his story and background.
Although the story was officially published in 1978, there are hints to it in King's earlier works. In 1969, the author (a college student at that time) wrote The Dark Man poem where we first meet the future antagonist of The Gunslinger. A year later, in 1970, King also wrote a short story titled Slade where we meet Jack Slade, a character some readers believe to be a test run for Roland.
In 2003, when the whole Dark Tower series was nearing its end, Stephen King released a second edition of the novel, revised and corrected according to the changes the world had seen throughout the years of writing. The original edition was different from the other books in the series both stylistically and in realia and it was harder to read.
Among the works that influenced or inspired The Dark Tower a poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning and "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R.Tolkien as well as so-called spaghetti westerns, a subgenre of westerns that were popular in the 1960s. In the Afterword to the first edition of The Gunslinger King wrote that he was also inspired by Clifford D. Simak's “Ring Around the Sun”.
Originally, the image of Roland Deschain was created based on Clint Eastwood, an actor and filmmaker famous for his roles in westerns. However, in the upcoming 2017 movie, the role will be played by a black actor, Idris Elba.
Stephen King "It: A Novel"
Want a Balloon?
One of the most terrifying among King's horror stories has a really succinct, short yet powerful name—It.
We get to know the town of Derry, Maine, where a serial killer hunts children. When seven kids form the Losers club they find out that the murderer is not a human being but a creature able to change its looks to whatever the person fears the most. It's preferred appearance is none other than a clown, chosen to lure little ones to death.
The story is told in two parallel time periods with a gap of 27 years, we meet the characters as kids and as adults. We see them being horrified and traumatized but holding onto their faith and friendship. It is a coming-of-age story told by Stephen King using his childhood fears. Although the novel received mixed reviews from critics, It is considered one of ten best Stephen King books by readers. The writer was nominated for several prestigious awards and won the British Fantasy Society August Derleth Award in 1987 with It.
What is <i>It</i>?
Stephen King's It was born when the writer lived in Boulder, Colorado. Once, crossing an old wooden bridge, King had recalled a tale "Three Billy Goats Gruff" about three goats and a troll. He had found the idea of a modern adaptation of this trope quite interesting.
By the time the writing process had started, the main evil had been changed to incorporate all the monsters in existence—a werewolf, Dracula, an alien, etc. And It's hiding place had changed too, from under the bridge King moved It deeper down, to the darkest parts of sewers.
It in the Movies
A story as great and popular as It was doomed to have a movie or ten. In 1990, there was a 2-episode series directed by Tommy Lee Wallace that had a huge response, and starting roughly with 2010th, we've been constantly hearing rumors about a possible remake. Finally, the time has come, the It movie directed by Andrés Muschietti is coming on cinema screens on September 8, 2017.
Nobody Likes a Clown at Midnight
In fact, no matter the time of day, fewer people like clowns at all compared to 10–20 years ago, the 2008 research by the University of Sheffield claims. High chances are that King's "It: A Novel" and the 1990 movie have something to do with this.
Stephen King "The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition"
Help Us to Stand
The Stand, a novel first published in 1978, brings us a dystopian world where due to an error in the US Defence lab computers, a morbid virus went loose and most of the human population is no more. Those left form groups to create the world anew.
The Stand is one of the longest individual novels in a Stephen King book list so it isn't a surprise that throughout the story we meet approximately a hundred characters. What is notable, they are all convincing and "alive", so much so that, getting to know them, we emphasize with them, support them, no matter is they are good or bad. In fact, there are no strictly good and bad characters here, which we believe to be another plus side and maybe even the main idea behind the plot. In this story, Stephen King presents us with the concept that people are much more complex than just good and bad and assuming they are can be a grave mistake. Leave some space to get to know them and their motivation. And never forget that the world will not survive without compassion and fortitude.
The book is really multi-faceted, full of philosophy, metaphors, and religion, yet it is still an undeniably one of the Stephen King books, rich in his unique style. It is also one of his most monumental works. King himself mentioned that he believes The Stand to be one of the few works by him that might become his literary heritage and will be in demand even after he passes away.
It might be not widely known but when Stephen King first published The Stand in 1978, his publishing company, Doubleday, made him shorten the novel. The reason was quite simple if a bit silly (as we think now, almost 40 years later): the printing presses weren't ready to print a novel this huge, they could break down. So King had to make it 400 pages shorter until in 1990 he had the opportunity to release a whole version. Seizing this chance, he had not only added the previously removed parts but also moved the timeline to 10 years later, changed some cultural references, rewritten some chapters, and added some completely new data. The new version was released as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition.
To Each Their Own One Ring
Rumors have it that when Stephen King started writing The Stand he was planning to create a huge epic story akin to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. His story would have taken place in the USA instead of in Middle-earth, Frodo the hobbit would be a Texas-born man, and the Dark Lord would be a madman.
Well, whatever happened and however it turned out, The Stand and The Lord of the Rings definitely share one trait—they are both stories about an endless battle between good and evil.
The above-mentioned clash is depicted on the cover of the very first book release where two figures, one black and the other one white, fight what looks like a battle of two equals.
Stephen King "The Shining"
This Inhuman Place Makes Human Monsters
The Shining is one of the most famous Stephen King books and his first bestseller. The story takes us to the Overlook Hotel where an ex-teacher and aspiring writer Jack Torrance works as the off-season caretaker while his wife and son accompany him. But the hotel is not exactly a normal hotel and weird things happen there which affect Jack in not the best of ways.
The novel was highly praised by the critics for being "more than your average horror" and highlighting a severe alcoholism and domestic violence problems that do exist in our society.
The Shining has a story behind its creation. The idea of it had struck King during his stay in the Stanley Hotel where he and his wife Tabitha went to have some rest. The hotel stood on a ridge and, as it was late fall, was empty but for them two. King and his wife were also told that heavy snow can sometimes cut the hotel from the civilization for days.
The King family had only spent a single night in the hotel but on that night Stephen had a dream of his son running the corridors escaping a fire hose. Waking up with a jolt, King had an idea for a novel. Many interior elements that we see in the story are replicas of those the Stanley Hotel had that time.
Iconic Movie for an Iconic Book
The Shining had two adaptations on screen, a movie and a TV-series. The TV-series was closely monitored by Stephen King himself as he was not overly pleased with the 1980 movie directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson. However, the movie was (and still is) more popular, Easter eggs and parodies to it can be found in many other movies, cartoons, TV-shows, music videos, and games even today.
What Happened After?
In 2009, touring for the book Under the Dome, Stephen King had teased the fans with a possible sequel to The Shining. True to his word, in 2013 he released Doctor Sleep, a story that takes place years later after the first book. But oops, no spoilers for The Shining here! Go read it.
Mark in a Horror History
One of the most quoted parts of the Kubrick's movie was the word "MURDER" written backward. It's already a part of the culture.
1. Stacy Conradt The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Stephen King, Mental Floss.
2. Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Stephen King Books, Rolling Stone.
3. A Reading Guide to the Stephen King Universe, Den of Geek.
5. Stephen King bibliography, Wikipedia. June 2, 2017
7. Stephen King Quotes, Goodreads.
8. Misery loves company: why Stephen King remains Hollywood's favorite author, The Guardian. June 22, 2017.
9. The first trailer for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is here, The Verge. May 3, 2017.
10. Stephen King's Official Twitter. Twitter.