The Stand by Stephen King

A few years ago, I read the original release of The Stand. I decided to do so because it was shorter and I was kind of afraid of the book.  It had grown to the heights of War and Peace in my mind but I love King and I wanted to get through it.  I loved the book but once I finished it I started to get the feeling that I had made the wrong choice.  If I was going to spend three weeks reading the book, I may as well spend those weeks reading the complete uncut edition.  I finally gave into that nagging voice and decided to read the big one.  I mean, what if I missed something?

My honest opinion:  I’m glad that I read the long one and I still love the book but you could probably get away with reading the shorter version.  There was only one thing that I actually noticed being different and its absence from the original release didn’t leave a gaping hole or anything.  I prefer the time setting of the original release, actually.  The small updates to pop culture and dates felt a little wonky to me.

I’ve heard of people who read this book again and again.  I can understand it.  It’s a great book.  The post Captain Trips world that King creates was vivid enough to seep into my dreams.  The characters feel real, even the bad guys.  They all have a real sense of humanity about them.

Repeatedly now I have tried to come up with a plot summary for you and I just can’t.  There is so much here and so many stories and characters that I feel like I would be doing the book a disservice in leaving something out.  Suffice to say that The Stand is a post-plague world that feels close enough to our own world to be scary, that he seems to really think things out down the line and around corners, if you will.  This is 100% worth the read for me.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Over the past couple of weeks, you may have heard me complaining about how long it’s taken me to get through this book.  Have you ever gotten into a reading slump and loved what you were reading and were extra frustrated because you wanted to know what happened and just couldn’t?  That’s kind of what happened here.

Fall is my spooky time.  Okay, all seasons are my spooky time but fall is extra so.  I wanted to read about witches and curses and I had been hearing about Hex for a couple of months.  When the library copy I requested came in, it was a short loan and I had only managed 50 pages in two weeks!  I had to give the book back and I went and purchased the ebook for the sum of $12.99, even though I usually cut my ebook costs off at $9.99.  That should be what convinces you that I liked this book.

The story starts of odd, like any other small town tale but with a dark edge to it.  Katherine van Wyler is the witch of Black Spring.  She has been a curse on the town for centuries, since she was accused of resurrecting her son.  Over the years, Black Spring has developed ways to deal with the witch.  Years ago, her eyes and mouth were sewn shut so that she couldn’t curse the village.  There is an emergency decree that outlines what can and cannot be said to the outside world.  There is a whole team in charge of making sure outsiders don’t learn about Katherine, called HEX.  But once someone lives in Black Spring, they cannot leave for long.  If they do, they are inundated with suicidal thoughts that they cannot fight off.

So, what happens when some teenagers begin to treat Katherine like a science experiment?  What happens when they want to go public with the town’s biggest secret?  It’s been years since Katherine has caused many problems but everyone is aware that they are walking a fine line.  What happens when they cross it?

When I started this book, it felt like a quirky, dark humor.  (A character throws a dish rag over the witch’s face when the witch appears in her home to make her seem less present.) It was definitely the kind of book that started dark and then got darker and then made a super dark turn.  I liked it and I only regret that I had to read it during a slump.  Great October read, though it may even be a better December read.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

I’ve really been enjoying the revival of Archie Comics.  I absolutely adore the new Archie.  I can’t wait for CW’s twisted take on Riverdale, which has been described as “dark” and “noir.”  I tried Afterlife with Archie, which fell flat because I’m not a big fan of zombies.  When I heard about the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I could not wait.  Witches are totally one of my things and this was hyped as playing back to old school horror.

The hype was exactly right.  Warning, this is a comic more suited to older teens.  There is blood and witchcraft and horror.  It’s not the sunny Sabrina that I grew up with.  It is aimed at a specific kind of horror fan but definitely at a horror fan.

That being said, I ended up really enjoying this one after a slow start.  It takes place in the 1960’s and really does pull from those classic horror movies.  The first issue, learning about Sabina’s birth, could be Rosemary’s Baby.  It hit so many of the horror tropes: teen witches, succubi, funeral homes, raising the dead, and insane asylums.  It also used the history of New England and the Salem witch trials in the story line.  Sabrina is part witch and part human and she walks the line between these two worlds.  When she starts human high school, she falls for Harvery, an all-American boy.  Sabrina’s cousin offers to help her do a love spell to attract Harvey’s attention and for a while everything seems perfect.  But as her sixteenth birthday approaches, little does she know that something is being summoned in the woods that will ride into town on a wave of revenge.

The Shining by Stephen King

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing a review for this one mostly because I feel like I talked about it a lot while I was reading it.  I read it for two and a half weeks and whenever I managed a big push in the reading I had something to talk about.  Don’t let the fact that it took me so long to read discouraged you.  King always takes me forever.  I still love him.

We all know the plot of this one because it is easily in the top three well known King books.  Plus, movies.  Instead, what I want to talk about is King’s style.  I’ve been reading through the books by publication date and the last one I read was Salem’s Lot.  This is a big change from that.  While SL was all about traditional monster horror thrills and full of gore and terror and mystery, The Shining is a slow build.

I knew what was coming, either because I possibly read it in high school or because I’ve seen the movies.  I knew what to expect.  Maybe there was an element of surprise that I missed out on just because I am familiar with the story.  What surprised me was how Kind built the story.  At first it doesn’t really feel like a horror novel.  When strange things start happening they are chapters apart.  I gave myself over to the ride and let King tell me the story and suddenly I was scared.  Seriously scared.  I had to put it down and read something nice before going to bed.

This one lives up to the hype.  I have the newer version of the movie waiting patiently to be watched!