From the Archives: Night Shift by Stephen King

Another post from my old "Read Stephen King in Order project":


Original review written December 18, 2014:

There is an old joke I've heard plenty of times - that Stephen King just picks a random object and then writes about it being scary. It's not a very funny one and I think it's supposed to imply that he's formulaic, but I never really understood it until now after just finishing Night Shift. I had not read any of these stories before and I can't say I was overly enthralled by most of them. A good number of the stories here fit "what if this normal thing was suddenly scary?" premise including items such as trucks, toy soldiers, a ledge, corn, and a lawnmower. The truck story and the one about the lawnmower are especially bizarre.

A nice feature of the book is three stories that tie into some of King's other works - the two that bookend 'Salem's Lot and another that offers a little taste of the world The Stand. I liked the follow up to 'Salem's Lot because the ending of the book was rather ambiguous and I am not a fan of ambiguous endings.

The stories I enjoyed the most were the three I mentioned and "I Know What you Need" - a story about an unsettling love affair. A young woman meets a man who is perfect for her in every way, but like most things that seem too good to be true, not everything is as it seems. With most of the stories, I struggled to get a hold on the characters before the story was over and in this one, I felt like I did get to know them.

The weakest were the more bizarre gross-out stories like Grey Matter where a man turns into grey slime and The Lawnmower Man, which is nothing like the movie at all.

Do I recommend this book? If you're already a King fan, yeah, sure, some of it is really good. If you're not a King fan already, then I don't know. If this was all I read about him I'm not sure I would be quite the fan I am.



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