Why You Should Read Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King: A Review and Analysis
Full Dark, No Stars: A Review of Stephen King's Collection of Dark Tales
If you are a fan of Stephen King or horror fiction in general, you may have heard of his book Full Dark, No Stars, a collection of four novellas that explore the dark side of human nature. But if you haven't read it yet, you are missing out on one of King's most disturbing, fascinating, and powerful works. In this article, I will give you a brief overview of the book and its stories, analyze the themes and messages that King conveys through them, compare them with his other works and those of other authors, and share my personal opinion and recommendation. So buckle up and get ready for a journey into the full dark, where there are no stars to guide you.
full dark no stars ebook 12
What is Full Dark, No Stars and why is it worth reading?
Full Dark, No Stars is a book by Stephen King that was published in 2010 by Scribner. It contains four novellas: 1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension, and A Good Marriage. Each story is about 100 pages long and can be read as a standalone piece. However, they are also connected by a common theme: retribution. In each story, the characters face the consequences of their actions or decisions, whether they are the perpetrators or the victims of violence, crime, or injustice. The stories are also linked by a common genre and style: horror, suspense, crime, and psychological thriller. King uses these genres to create a sense of dread, tension, mystery, and shock in the readers. He also uses his trademark elements of realism, humor, irony, and references to popular culture to make the stories more relatable and engaging.
The book is worth reading for several reasons. First of all, it showcases King's mastery of the short story form. He manages to create well-developed characters, intriguing plots, vivid settings, and satisfying endings in each story. He also demonstrates his versatility as a writer by experimenting with different perspectives, voices, formats, and tones. Second of all, it explores some of the most relevant and universal themes that affect human beings: retribution, guilt, justice, and evil. He challenges the readers to think about these concepts from different angles and perspectives. He also raises some moral and ethical questions that have no easy answers. Third of all, it appeals to a wide range of readers who enjoy dark and disturbing stories. Whether you like horror stories that involve supernatural elements or realistic stories that involve human monsters, you will find something that suits your taste in this book.
Summary of each story
The first story in the book is 1922, which is narrated by Wilfred James, a farmer who lives in Hemingford Home, Nebraska with his wife Arlette and his son Henry. Wilfred loves his land and his son more than anything else in the world, but he hates his wife who wants to sell their land to a hog company and move to Omaha. Wilfred decides to kill his wife with the help of his son to prevent her from selling their land. He convinces Henry that it is for their own good and that they will be happier without her. They murder Arlette in their bedroom and dump her body in an old well on their property. However, their crime does not go unpunished. They are haunted by Arlette's ghost and by a horde of rats that infest their house and farm. They also face the consequences of their actions in the real world: Henry falls in love with a pregnant girl named Shannon Cotterie and runs away with her; Wilfred loses his land to the bank; Shannon's father Wilfred becomes a fugitive and a vagrant. He is eventually bitten by a rat and contracts a fatal infection. He writes his confession in a hotel room and waits for Arlette's ghost and the rats to come for him.
The second story in the book is Big Driver, which is told by Tess Thorne, a successful writer of cozy mysteries featuring a knitting club. Tess is invited to give a talk at a library in Chicopee, Massachusetts by Ramona Norville, the librarian. Ramona suggests that Tess take a shortcut on her way back home to avoid traffic. Tess follows Ramona's advice, but she soon regrets it when she encounters a spike strip on the road that punctures her tires. She is then approached by a truck driver who offers to help her. However, the driver turns out to be a rapist and a murderer who brutally assaults Tess and leaves her for dead in a drainage pipe. Tess survives the attack and manages to escape from the pipe. She discovers that she is not the first victim of the driver, who is known as Big Driver. She also learns that Ramona and her brother Lester, who owns the truck stop where Big Driver works, are in cahoots with him and lure unsuspecting women into his trap. Tess decides to take matters into her own hands and seek revenge on her attackers. She tracks down Ramona, Lester, and Big Driver and kills them one by one. She also writes a novel based on her experience and publishes it under a pseudonym. She is aided by her inner voice, which takes the form of Tom, her GPS device.
The third story in the book is Fair Extension, which is narrated by Dave Streeter, a man who suffers from terminal lung cancer. Dave is driving on Route 117 near Derry, Maine when he sees a roadside stand with a sign that reads "Fair Extension". He stops at the stand and meets Mr. Elvid, a mysterious man who claims to be able to grant wishes for a price. Mr. Elvid offers Dave a deal: he will cure his cancer and extend his life for 15% of his income. In exchange, Dave has to transfer his bad luck to someone else of his choice. Dave agrees to the deal and chooses Tom Goodhugh, his best friend since childhood. Dave has always resented Tom for being more successful, more handsome, more popular, and more happy than him. He also blames Tom for stealing his high school sweetheart Deirdre, whom he still loves. Dave signs a contract with Mr. Elvid and feels his cancer disappear. He also witnesses Tom's life fall apart: his wife Deirdre leaves him for another man; his daughter Katy becomes pregnant and addicted to drugs; his son Seth becomes paralyzed in a car accident; his business goes bankrupt; and he develops multiple sclerosis. Dave enjoys his newfound health, wealth, and happiness while Tom suffers from misery, pain, and despair. Dave feels no remorse or guilt for ruining Tom's life. He believes that he deserves everything he has and that Tom deserves everything he gets.
A Good Marriage
The fourth and final story in the book is A Good Marriage, which is written in the third person limited point of view of Darcy Anderson, a housewife who lives in Portland, Maine with her husband Bob and their two children Donnie and Petra. Darcy and Bob have been married for 27 years and have a good marriage: they love each other, they trust each other, they respect each other, and they support each other. However, their marriage is shattered when Darcy discovers that Bob is not who he seems to be. One night, when Bob is away on a business trip, Darcy looks for batteries in the garage and finds a hidden box under a worktable. Inside the box are several driver's licenses, credit cards, and souvenirs belonging to different women who have been murdered by Beadie, a notorious serial killer who has been active for over 20 years. Darcy realizes that Bob is Beadie and that he has been killing women across the country during his business trips. She also realizes that he has been using their marriage as a cover for his crimes.
Darcy is faced with a dilemma: what should she do about her husband's secret? Should she confront him? Should she report him? Should she leave him? Should she kill him? She decides to wait until he comes back home and talk to him calmly and rationally. However, her plan goes awry when Bob returns earlier than expected and finds out that she knows his secret. He tries to explain and justify his actions, but Darcy is not convinced. He also tries to threaten and manipulate her, but Darcy is not intimidated. She manages to kill him with a mail opener and makes it look like self-defense. She then calls the police and tells them what happened. She also contacts Holt Ramsey, a retired detective who has been obsessed with catching Beadie for years. She tells him the truth about Bob and gives him the box of evidence. She hopes that by doing so, she will bring closure to the families of the victims and justice to Bob. She also hopes that she will be able to move on with her life and preserve her good marriage in her memory.
Analysis of the themes
The main theme that connects all four stories in Full Dark, No Stars is retribution. Retribution is the act of punishing someone for their wrongdoing or rewarding someone for their good deed. It is also the result or consequence of such an act. In each story, the characters experience retribution in different ways: they inflict it, they suffer it, they seek it, or they avoid it. King explores the concept of retribution from different angles and perspectives: what it means, who deserves it, who delivers it, and what are the costs and benefits.
In 1922, Wilfred James inflicts retribution on his wife Arlette for wanting to sell their land and move to Omaha. He believes that she is betraying him and their son Henry by doing so. He also believes that he is protecting their land and their family by killing her. However, he soon suffers retribution for his crime: he is haunted by Arlette's ghost and by a horde of rats that infest his house and farm. He also loses his son, his land, his money, his health, and his sanity. He realizes that he has destroyed everything he loved and valued by murdering his wife. He also realizes that he has no escape from his guilt and his fate.
In Big Driver, Tess Thorne suffers retribution for being a successful and independent woman who writes cozy mysteries. She is raped and left for dead by Big Driver, who hates women like her and enjoys torturing and killing them. He also believes that he is doing God's work by punishing them for their sins. However, Tess survives the attack and seeks retribution for what he did to her: she tracks him down and kills him with a fireplace poker. She also kills Ramona and Lester Norville, who are accomplices of Big Driver and lure unsuspecting women into his trap. She believes that she is doing justice by avenging herself and the other victims of Big Driver. She also believes that she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands.
In Fair Extension, Dave Streeter avoids retribution for being a bad person who envies and hates his best friend Tom Goodhugh. He makes a deal with Mr. Elvid, who cures his cancer and extends his life for 15% of his income. In exchange, he transfers his bad luck to Tom, who suffers from misery, pain, and despair. Dave enjoys his newfound health, wealth, and happiness while Tom's life falls apart. He feels no remorse or guilt for ruining Tom's life. He believes that he deserves everything he has and that Tom deserves everything he gets.
In A Good Marriage, Bob Anderson inflicts retribution on women who remind him of his mother, who abused him as a child. He kills them with a hammer and takes their driver's licenses, credit cards, and souvenirs as trophies. He calls himself Beadie and taunts the police with letters and clues. He also uses his marriage to Darcy as a cover for his crimes. He believes that he is satisfying his urges and impulses by killing women. He also believes that he is a good husband and father who loves his family. However, he suffers retribution for his crimes when Darcy discovers his secret and kills him with a mail opener. She also exposes him as Beadie to the police and to Holt Ramsey, who have been hunting him for years. She believes that she is defending herself and honoring the victims by killing Bob. She also believes that she is preserving her good marriage in her memory.
King shows that retribution is not a simple or straightforward concept: it can be justified or unjustified, deserved or undeserved, proportional or disproportionate, effective or ineffective, satisfying or unsatisfying, empowering or disempowering, liberating or enslaving, healing or damaging, moral or immoral, that retribution is related to other themes such as guilt, justice, and evil. He challenges the readers to think about these themes from different angles and perspectives as well.
Another theme that connects all four stories in Full Dark, No Stars is guilt. Guilt is the feeling of regret or remorse for doing something wrong or for failing to do something right. It is also the state of being responsible or accountable for something. In each story, the characters experience guilt in different ways: they feel it, they express it, they cope with it, they escape from it, or they ignore it. King portrays the effects of guilt on the characters: how it influences their actions and decisions, how it affects their relationships and emotions, how it shapes their identities and personalities, and how it impacts their lives and destinies.
In 1922, Wilfred James feels guilt for killing his wife Arlette and for involving his son Henry in his crime. He expresses his guilt by writing his confession in a hotel room. He tries to cope with his guilt by rationalizing his actions and by blaming his wife, his son, and the rats for his misfortunes. He also tries to escape from his guilt by running away from his home and by becoming a vagrant. However, he cannot ignore his guilt: he is haunted by Arlette's ghost and by the rats that follow him everywhere. He also suffers the consequences of his guilt: he loses everything he loved and valued, he becomes a fugitive and a pariah, he contracts a fatal infection, and he faces a horrible death.
In Big Driver, Tess Thorne feels guilt for surviving the attack by Big Driver and for killing him and his accomplices. She expresses her guilt by talking to her inner voice Tom, who represents her conscience and her sanity. She tries to cope with her guilt by seeking revenge and by writing a novel based on her experience. She also tries to escape from her guilt by publishing her novel under a pseudonym and by avoiding publicity and recognition. However, she cannot ignore her guilt: she is haunted by nightmares and flashbacks of the attack and the killings. She also suffers the consequences of her guilt: she loses her innocence and her peace of mind, she becomes a murderer and a liar, she risks being exposed and arrested, and she faces an uncertain future.
In Fair Extension, Dave Streeter feels no guilt for ruining Tom Goodhugh's life and for enjoying his own. He does not express his guilt at all: he acts as if nothing has changed and as if he has done nothing wrong. He does not try to cope with his guilt or to escape from it: he embraces his new situation and takes advantage of it. He also ignores his guilt: he does not care about Tom's suffering or about the moral implications of his deal with Mr. Elvid. He does not suffer any consequences of his lack of guilt: he gets everything he wants and nothing he doesn't.
In A Good Marriage, Bob Anderson feels no guilt for killing women as Beadie and for lying to his wife Darcy as Bob. He does not express his guilt at all: he acts as if he is a normal and decent person who loves his family. He does not try to cope with his guilt or to escape from it: he satisfies his urges and impulses by killing women and takes their trophies as souvenirs. He also ignores his guilt: he does not care about the victims or about the legal implications of his crimes. He suffers the consequences of his lack of guilt: he is killed by Darcy and exposed as Beadie to the police and to Holt Ramsey.
King shows that guilt is not a simple or straightforward feeling: it can be justified or unjustified, deserved or undeserved, proportional or disproportionate, effective or ineffective, satisfying or unsatisfying, empowering or disempowering, liberating or enslaving, healing or damaging, moral or immoral, that guilt is related to other themes such as retribution, justice, and evil. He challenges the readers to think about these themes from different angles and perspectives as well.
Another theme that connects all four stories in Full Dark, No Stars is justice. Justice is the quality of being fair, right, lawful, or moral. It is also the act of administering or receiving what is fair, right, lawful, or moral. In each story, the characters question the notion of justice: what it is, who decides it, how it is achieved, and what are the costs and benefits. King questions the notion of justice from different angles and perspectives: what is fair, what is right, what is lawful, and what is moral.
In 1922, Wilfred James questions the justice of his wife's decision to sell their land and move to Omaha. He believes that it is unfair, wrong, unlawful, and immoral. He also questions the justice of his own decision to kill his wife and prevent her from selling their land. He believes that it is fair, right, lawful, and moral. However, he soon realizes that his decision is not just: it is unfair to his wife, who has the right to do what she wants with her property; it is wrong to his son, who has to participate in his crime and suffer the consequences; it is unlawful to the law, which forbids murder and requires punishment; and it is immoral to God, who condemns killing and demands repentance. He also realizes that his decision does not achieve justice: it does not make him happier or better off; it does not protect his land or his family; it does not prevent the hog company from buying his land; and it does not stop his wife from haunting him.
In Big Driver, Tess Thorne questions the justice of her attack by Big Driver. She believes that it is unfair, wrong, unlawful, and immoral. She also questions the justice of her revenge on Big Driver and his accomplices. She believes that it is fair, right, lawful, and moral. However, she soon realizes that her revenge is not just: it is unfair to herself, who has to become a killer and a liar; it is wrong to her fans, who expect her to write cozy mysteries; it is unlawful to the law, which forbids murder and requires evidence; and it is immoral to God, who condemns killing and demands forgiveness. She also realizes that her revenge does not achieve justice: it does not make her heal or forget; it does not bring back the other victims or comfort their families; it does not stop Big Driver from being a hero in the eyes of some people; and it does not prevent her from being haunted by nightmares and flashbacks.
In Fair Extension, Dave Streeter questions the justice of his cancer diagnosis. He believes that it is unfair, wrong, unlawful, and immoral. He also questions the justice of his deal with Mr. Elvid. He believes that it is fair, right, lawful, and moral. However, he soon realizes that his deal is not just: it is unfair to Tom Goodhugh, who has to suffer for no reason; it is wrong to his family, who have to live with a selfish and heartless man; it is unlawful to the law, which forbids fraud and requires consent; and it is immoral to God, who condemns envy and demands love. He also realizes that his deal does not achieve justice: it does not make him grateful or generous; it does not improve his relationship with Deirdre or his children; it does not prevent Mr. Elvid from taking more than 15% of his income; and it does not guarantee him a happy