I hate that it took me 30 years (or really, 15, since I had the correct reading level) to get into Stephen King’s work. Now, for the past year, each time I’ve read one of his books, I’ve wanted to kick my own ass for not reading it earlier, and Needful Things was not an exception. (I don’t love it the way I love Wolves Of The Calla or The Stand, but it’s really good fun.)
The beleagured town of Castle Rock, Maine, (HEY! I KNOW THAT PLACE NOW!) has had it’s peaceful October interrupted by the opening of a new novelty shop which is run by the mysterious and charming Leland Guant. As more and more people find their way into Needful Things, the odd and violent small town grudges and battles of Castle Rock explode into terrifying violence.
The only townsperson not brought under Guant’s sway is Sheriff Alan Pangborn (HEY I KNOW HIM!) and I made a deliberate choice to read this one first, even though chronologically, it’s technically the “last Castle Rock Story,” I figure it will make reading all of the others more fun for me, as I draw connection back through it’s prism.
But I do love King’s formula, and his characters, but mostly that formula. The slow escalation of uneasiness into violence into chaos. Needful Things executes the formula beautifully, and gives us some really great characters to boot. Gaunt’s a fun villain, all calculated malice and greasy cajoling. Pangborn is a cool choice for a hero, a skeptic who’s seen to much to really be a skeptic anymore, but also you know, skeptical. (So, you know, a Scully…)
And there’s some really scary shit in this one, which just had me grinning, we’ll see how I sleep after reading it, but you know, it is what it is.
I’ve never been happier to let go of a project than when I decided to do some more King reading than continue with the epics. This should be a lot of fun for us all, it also means that I’m going be increasing my goal by another nine books. YAY!
Up next is Different Seasons, so also Stephen King, but different because short stories and no monsters just people being shitty. (I actually already finished “Rita Hayworth And The Shawkshank Redemption.”)