Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

Book #41:The Dark Half by Stephen King

Number of pages: 461

George Stark
1975 - 1988
Not a very nice guy

I felt there was probably something semi-autobiographical about the premise of this book, in which the main character, Thad Beaumont, "kills" his alter ego George Stark, the pseudonym under which he wrote a number of ultra-violent pulp thrillers.

Stephen King himself used to write under the pen name Richard Bachman; I haven't read any of the books he wrote as Bachman, so I don't know how they compare to his other books (except that I doubt any are more shocking than Pet Sematery, which he didn't write as Richard Bachman). I do know that some writers like to use a different style when using a pseudonym - Ruth Rendell writing profanity-laden detective novels under the alias Barbara Vine, for example.

This book quickly turns into a brutal pulp horror novel, as several people are murdered in ways that ape killings from George Stark novels, and it quickly becomes clear, to Thad at least, that George Stark has somehow taken on a physical form and is attempting to prolong his own existence. It turns out that they are linked in more ways than one, in a manner that relates to the book's prologue, set during Thad's childhood.

The book gets very creepy quite fast, with sparrows becoming menacing in a way that consciously mimics Hitchcock's The Birds (and presumably the novel it is based on), although most of the unpleasant stuff comes from the fact that Stark starts to physically deteriorate, taking on a more and more gruesome visage.

Overall, it's quite a simple story, made more exciting by Stephen King's recognisable style, with the usual pop culture references (I have noticed that he likes to mention cartoons a lot), and I doubt any other writer would come up with the chapter title, "The Psychopomps are coming". I had read this before years ago, but couldn't exactly remember the plot very well. I found it to be gripping from start to finish.

Next book: Middlemarch (George Eliot)
Tags: book review, contemporary, fiction, gritty, horror, ominous, paranormal, pulp fiction, suspense

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