The Bazaar of Bad Dreams – Stephen King
Published by Hachette New Zealand, November 2015
I’ve always been a Stephen King fan, but in recent years I haven’t read many of his books because motherhood seems to have turned me into a bit of a scaredy cat.
However, I figured I’d be able to handle the horror in short doses, so started The Bazaar of Bad Dreams with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.
Stephen King writes a fascinating introduction to the entire collection of short stories (warning the reader to “…feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”), but each story also has its own special introduction. King gives an insight into the inspiration for each story, giving the reader an intriguing look into his history, his literary journey, and the methods he uses to tell his stories.
There are twenty stories featured in the collection, some new, some published previously. There is likely to be a story that appeals to everyone, regardless of your feelings about horror stories. I have two very clear, very different favourites: Mile 81, and Mister Yummy.
The first story in the collection, Mile 81, was, for me, the most terrifying and chilling. It tells the story of a monster masquerading as a car in an abandoned rest area off the highway; while a young boy sleeps in an alcohol-induced stupor inside an old burger joint, car after car is abandoned as their owners are swallowed up by the vicious vehicle. I found the story compelling and frightening; I couldn’t stop reading, yet I didn’t want to read that another person had disappeared after stopping to help.
Mister Yummy appealed to me on a very different level, and I’m finding it hard to explain why. It tells the tale of old friends in a rest home, one of whom says he has started to see the past image of someone he used to know and as the spectre moves closer and closer, he knows he is going to die. It’s a beautiful and poignant story of friendship and the certainty of death; I find the imagery of Death as someone you once knew and fancied to be quite peaceful and almost reassuring.
The rest of the stories in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams are very good, but none scared me the same way as Mile 81, or resonated with me like Mister Yummy. If you are a hardened Stephen King horror fan, you might find the stories featured here a little tame. However, if you appreciate King for his way with words and his ability to write, really write, you will not be disappointed. And if you aren’t a Stephen King fan at all, I still think you’ll find yourself lost in this book. It’s a good ‘un.
Put this on your Christmas list for the book lover in your life – available to purchase online via Hachette.
Thank you, Hachette NZ, for this review copy.