The Dark Half * Stephen King Book Review

“…he was after all, a novelist…and a novelist was simply a fellow who got paid to tell lies. The bigger the lies, the better the pay.”

This book makes you wonder whether the main character was insane or truly plagued by a writer’s worst nightmare.
King wrote couple of novels under pseudonym Richard Bachman in 70s and 80s. But in 1985, a bookstore clerk figured Bachman is King and wrote an article about it with King’s blessing.
Four years after, in 1989, King wrote The Dark Half: A dark tale where a novelist with pseudonym reveals his secret identity to the public and vows not to write another novel under that particular pen name. But the pen name AKA his Dark Half doesn’t like that…. NOT ONE BIT. So that high toned son of a bitch takes a human form and starts killing everyone who was involved in exposing his identity and more!

“He didn’t know if that was really true or not, but he discovered something which was tremendously liberating: he didn’t care. He was very tired of thinking and thinking and still not knowing. He was also tired of being frightened, like a man who has entered a cave on a lark and now begins to suspect he is lost. Stop thinking about it, then. That’s the solution.”

It’s 400 plus pages, but never feels like it and there’s no sense of King straining for effect detectable in other works in this era. The book is a little bit “pulpy” thanks to the whack-a-doodle premise driving its plot, but kudos to King tackling it with unabashed, unapologetic enthusiasm.

Thad Beaumont is a novelist who writes novels in his own name as well as a pseudonym. The works of his Pseudonym, George Stark is grittier, ruthless and more famous, just like the personality of George Stark envisioned by Thad.

But Thad knows George Stark is not just a pseudonym or just a fragment of his imagination, he could feel Stark’s exertion over him when he writes stark novels. Thad can feel a dark person lives inside him, who surfaces only to write Stark’s bloody novels.

The story is divided into three parts. Part one is the longest, bloodiest and most enjoyable of them all. I literally flew through part one in a matter of hours. It’s even more surprising for me because I’ve always found King’s initial chapters slow as he uses these chapters to build his characters. But boy oh boy, this book did not dilly dally on those and went straight to action!

Part two considerably slowed down the pace, only to pick it up as the chapters progressed. But the dialogue and the text is pure art in some areas.

But was that true? Was it really? Hadn’t there always been a part of him that admired George, a man who didn’t stumble over things or bump into things, a man who never looked weak or silly, a man who would never have to fear the demons locked away in the liquor cabinet? A man with no wife or children to consider, with no love to blind him or slow him down? A man who never wadded through a shitty student essay or agonized over a Budget Committee meeting? A man who had a sharp, straight answer to all of life’s more difficult questions?
A man who was not afraid if the dark because he
 owned the dark?

Instead, he had caught some supernatural disease. And there were diseases, lots of them, that found homes in the bodies of people who had done nothing to deserve them-fun things like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s-but once you got one, you had to deal with it. What was the name of that old radio quiz show?

Dark half is a high octane physiological horror ride: An extremely fun, yet flawed ride.

❝ The babies are insurance. Like write-protect on a floppy disk, isn’t that so, Thad?❞

(Hah! Floppy disks! 🙂 )

The major issue with the story is the plot itself: It is something worthy of Goosebumps, not an actual adult novel. A man who has never existed coming to life? Then he slowly losing his shape because he is not real? And the only way to become real is by learning how to write?

Every time I was at the edge of the seat reading the horror, one of these less savvy plot point shows its face, effectively killing the mood.

This was a pretty good read. King pulls you into his world and doesn’t stop until you reach the end. If you liked Stephen King’s books or if this is your first foray into King’s maniacal world, I recommend checking out this book or any of his old work first before venturing on to his newer stuff because you will enjoy it. This book is available at your local library to check out as well as on amazon and wherever books are sold.

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