Stephen King’s The Shining is a modern gothic masterpiece, containing many of the core aspects which constitute gothic literature’s skeleton. The Overlook hotel is the monolithic, ruined castle riddled with malicious spirits; Jack Torrance succumbs to madness, ultimately becoming a doppelgänger of himself; monstrosity overtakes the mundane, particularly to Danny Torrance; Jack holds a quasi-religious reverence for historical items and locations, and also feels a sense of fallen society. While these attributes have been discussed at length, there is less discussion about its Female Gothic qualities.
If It Bleeds is Stephen King’s most recent collection of the macabre, released earlier than originally planned this year in response to the desire to escape into new Stephen King fiction felt by many Constant Readers practising social distancing. Each of the four novellas within this collection – including “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, “The Life of Chuck“, the titular “If It Bleeds”, and “Rat” – feel like a return to vintage King, though each accomplishes this feat through very different means.
C.J. Tudor has garnered a shining reputation as a prolific author of psychological thrillers, gaining praise from author heavyweights such as Stephen King and Lee Child. The Other People was my first introduction to C.J. Tudor’s work, after hearing her on a panel speaking passionately about the audiobook adaptations of her previous two novels, The Taking of Annie Thorne (2019) and The Chalk Man (2018).
Stephen King. Even as a kid, I knew that that name attached to a film title meant that I was going to be freaked out. Both of my parents were avid horror fans, so I became acquainted with cinematic monstrosity at a rather early age. I cut my teeth on It, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pet Sematary, and Halloween. As a result, it isn’t very often that a scary movie really gets me. However, if someone were to ask which movie scared me the most, my answer wouldn’t be a major title. Nor is it one that seems to get a lot of attention. It is, however, a Stephen King film; one that left a mark, or rather, a scratch on my psyche that I’ve only truly begun to understand as an adult: Sleepwalkers.
Coming to this new Netflix horror over a week after its launch and, being a user of Twitter, I was subjected to a range of diverse opinions. And some strong emotions too. At first I thought, “what’s all the fuss about?” In the Tall Grass got off to a promising start – the production was slick and stylish, the idea was novel and, at first glance, quite neat and concise. But as the running time dragged on, In the Tall Grass progressively lost its way.
I’ve been a fan of Stephen Chobsky ever since The Perks of Being a Wallflower came out when I was in college. Needless to say, I was excited to hear that he was dipping his feet into the horror genre with Imaginary Friend. The book centres around a young boy named Christopher Reese who goes missing in the woods after following a disembodied voice. Upon returning, Christopher realises he has something akin to superpowers: he’s no longer dyslexic, he wins the lottery, and he can somehow hear people’s thoughts. But there’s a catch. He keeps having reoccurring nightmares about a “hissing lady” who wants to tear down the wall between the “imaginary world” and the real one, which has something to do with another little boy who went missing fifty years ago.
Because I’m a woman who loves horror, people always ask me who my favourite women horror writers are, and I’m a little ashamed to admit I don’t always have the best response. Beyond the obvious choices like Mary Shelley or Shirley Jackson, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a comprehensive list when your bookshelf is made up of 90% white men.
I liken short story anthologies to a supermarket trip – you go in for what you want, see things you don’t like and often come away with something extra you didn’t know you liked in the first place. An odd analogy perhaps, but you get my drift I’m sure. In other words, in Full Throttle by Joe Hill, there were some stories I liked, some I didn’t like at all and a couple of nice surprises.
Let me admit something up front – I was initially a bit nervous to take on this review. How do you review a Stephen King novel when you’ve been a devoted “Constant Reader” (to borrow King’s term) for most of your life? The task was daunting, but I ultimately decided that my desire to read his latest novel, The Institute, as soon as possible was stronger than my fear of reviewing King’s work. If you’re on this site, you’ve likely encountered something written by Stephen King, whether it be a bestselling novel, short story collection, screenplay, viral tweet, or virtually any other written medium. I could list the awards he’s written, but I think it’s more valuable that I just say this: Stephen King is a horror legend and a vital figure of horror fiction.
It’s been a little while since we published a roundup of the latest horror books so it’s nice to return with quite an exciting bunch for September. Stephen King’s The Institute is certainly the biggest name on this list – read our review. Is there a book we’ve missed that you think should be included? Leave a comment or get in touch.