Coleen recently enjoyed Stephen King's latest release, a short story compilation that was filled with "remarkable characters and unusual plotlines". Here is her review:

For my own version of “book candy” aka a pleasure read, one of my favorite authors is Stephen King. His newest work If It Bleeds contains four short stories, and was a great way for me to get back in the reading habit, after a brief pause. When you finish the first story, you have a renewed enjoyment of reading for pleasure, and a sense of accomplishment, which leads you right into the next story. . .

The first story, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” reminded me of “Cell” (2006), another story with an aversion to the ubiquitous cell phone and its effects on society.  Instead of the phone itself being a major character, this story develops around an unusual friendship between a senior, Mr. Harrigan, and a young man, Craig, who reads to him and does odd jobs for pocket money. The phone in this story, like Cell, becomes a sinister device, but I enjoyed the friendship between the characters and the great twists that Mr. King puts into this storyline.

“The Life of Chuck,” was very unusual, opening up in an apocalyptic setting, where roadways and power are beginning to fail, and we meet what I thought was the main character, Marty, and the mysterious billboards, featuring “Chuck.”   The storyline, I likened to the idea of an apocalyptic world, disarranged, moving from one timeline to the next, backwards to Chuck’s youth. This story was less frightful, and more of a comment on life and the choices we make, similar to the Walt Whitman poem “Song of Myself.” 

“If It Bleeds,” takes us back into the world Stephen King opened in “The Outsider,” and the Bill Hodges trilogy, featuring Holly Gibney.  Holly takes the lead in this story, and we learn more about her character and backstory.  This leans more to a detective story with a dash of horror, but I enjoyed it enough to take a look at his other series featuring Holly, the Bill Hodges trilogy. 

“Rat,” the final novella, takes us into the mind of a writer, “write what you know,” as the saying goes, and Mr. King gives us a new twist on the struggling author.  This story also reminds me of Lisey’s story with the relationship between Drew and Lucy, and harkens back to King’s own harrowing auto incident in 1999, and how mental health is as important as physical health.  The setting, a cabin in the woods is fantastic, and leads to a handful of very unusual encounters for Drew, one of which, is a rat.

Mr. King develops remarkable characters, unusual plotlines, and delivers another enjoyable read.

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