(Originally published to Goodreads March 6, 2016.)
Good, solid collection of stories. I’d read “Mile 81” before (actually, listened to it on audio) and thought it was rather silly, but I enjoyed everything else here. This collection on the whole feels as if it has less teeth than the usual King horror story collection. Some of the stories, yes, have that fatalistic, bad-news ending we love from the guy, but others, such as “Ur,” go a bit softer on the reader. I found this especially surprising in the case of the particular story I mentioned, which follows a familiar trope from King that he seems to have trademarked (it’s a trope I love, by the way, and which he handles masterfully), but the ending takes a much more optimistic turn. Even the more fatalistic stories, such as the last one, have a bittersweet or nostalgic temperament to them, once again showing that the master is still entertaining us, but on the whole the old man has gotten a little kinder. Perhaps he’s just setting us up for the next Revival experience, a book that still keeps me up at night. Regardless, he’s incredible at the short form, which surprises even himself most of the time, as history has shown the man loves to go epic. I envy this and wish my idea factory worked as efficiently and effectively as his. Note: As with any work by King, you do yourself a tremendous disservice if you skip his introductions to each story. In a few rare cases, his prefaces are even better than the stories themselves.