Almost a four-star review, but not quite. I enjoyed the stories overall, but I feel like the ideas just weren’t good enough. When I think of the stories in Different Seasons, or Four Past Midnight, or even the Bachman Books, I feel like this collection of four novellas comes up lacking a bit.
The collection start with “1922” — the story of a haunted man and his equally haunted son — begins in unbelievability, wanders into decent horror story territory, and then waddles off into a muttering, clumsy puddle of half-baked plot before whimpering to its conclusion. But hey, some of the details were cool (loved the rats! loved them!), so I wasn’t entirely bored. But I didn’t in the end find much to believe in this one. Might’ve been better as a real short story.
Next comes “Big Driver” — and this one pretty much follows the plot of films like Last House on the Left (itself rented and viewed by the main character) and would have seemed really derivative to me, had it not been for King’s striking ability to write well when the mood suits him. I wound up having a blast with this story, even if I wanted to reject its very premise from the moment I realized what it was going to be about. The conclusion was suspenseful, and if all the stories were as good as this one, I’d probably have given the collection five stars.
“Fair Extension” was absolute garbage, and King should be ashamed of himself for it. This deal-with-the-devil story has the devil go by the name of George Elvid. Yes. That’s right. Elvid. One look at that name, and I wanted to slap King on the wrist.
Finally, “The Good Marriage” continued King’s habit of writing long stories of women alone in a house sifting through their husband’s stuff. This one discovers a nasty secret about her husband. It was interesting, and decent enough, but rather long-winded at times for my taste. Nice ending. Also, though, I feel like this one could have been better as a real short story. There’s a lot of fat on this one.
So I guess I liked half the stories here, barely liked another, and full on mocked another. And yet … it was all so very easy to read and King kept me turning the pages.