Full Dark, No Stars

  • by Stephen King
  • Narrated by Craig Wasson, Jessica Hecht
  • 14 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

‘I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger....' writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up '1922', the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.
In 'Big Driver', a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger is along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.
'Fair Extension', the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Harry Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment. When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable, and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends 'A Good Marriage'.
Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring hit films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long-story form.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A fair read from Mr King, but not great

"Full Dark, No Stars" is comprised of four novellas that each deal with individuals living the reality of the common fantasy question "What would you do if..." Each tale explores the darker side of human nature and involves the characters making morally grey (or sometimes utterly black) decisions that have lasting impacts on their own lives or the lives of others.

Whilst I understand King's interest in exploring this disturbing theme, I found the majority of the stories unoriginal, with the exception of one. "1922" basically boils down to the story of a man who becomes tired of his wife and kills her. Although the aftermath has supernatural elements, I found this story dragged on for too long and wasn't very intriguing. It was however quite grotesque, which is King all over.

"Big Driver" was a little more interesting, but still mostly unoriginal: a woman is raped and almost killed and decides she wants revenge on the man that abused her. The story was suspenseful at times and the finale was quite good. However no supernatural elements were present, which is not a bad thing from King. He has written a number of stories that don't have any ghouls and ghosts and they are marvelous to read. I guess I've come to expect more from King.

"Fair Extension" was the most enjoyable of the four stories. I put this down to the enigmatic character of Elvid and what he offers to Streeter, the main character: a life extension and reprieve from the cancer that is eating him from the inside. Of course there is a catch; Streeter must put the burden on someone else, someone he knows well. The story loses its intrigue from this point and ends all too abruptly with no real closure, which was a little frustrating.

"A Good Marriage" is the last tale and once again falls into the unoriginal category: a loving wife discovers her husband of 27 years is a serial killer. This story was one of those that the reader just wants to finish, but drags on for too long again. Quite uninspired.

As previously stated, I feel I have come to expect more from King with his story ideas. That supernatural element is what he uses best and whilst its absence from the majority of these tales could be viewed as a nice diversion from the norm, the book suffers because of it. The reason being that the stories aren't intriguing and due to their seen-it-before nature, there is nothing to keep the reader interested. At least it didn't keep this reader interested.
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- Todd

Traversing the dark parts of the soul

Stephen King takes a refreshing departure from the supernatural and fanciful, to take a tour of the darker parts of soul of the average everyperson. While "Full Dark, No Stars" consists of four seemingly unrelated tales, they are all wonderfully bound together in the unasked question, "what would you do?" While not all the stories get an equal amount of time to unfold, the first story "1922" almost overstaying it's welcome, they are all well-rounded and most importantly entertaining.
The two narrators do an admirable job with these tales of misfortune, greed and human frailty, however if I was to have one complaint it is that Jessica Hecht sometimes sounds a little too cheerful for the gravitas of the material.
These aren't stories that will chill you to the bone, but they are stories that will hang around in your mind long after the narration has ended.
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- Justin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-17-2010
  • Publisher: Hodder Headline Limited