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If It BleedsIf It Bleeds by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must confess it’s some time since I read any Stephen King. I read a friend’s review of this book and thought ‘yes.’ I was put off by the extraordinary (and ridiculous) price of the Kindle but serendipity came to the rescue – I had a credit for Audible so started listening to the audiobook version.

I am going to tackle this review in stages: one story at a time starting off with Mr. Harrigan’s Phone in which a young boy introduces an old man to the joys of an early edition iPhone resulting in mysterious events.

I enjoyed it. It did lag a bit for me when Craig, the main character, went off to middle school, then it picked up the thread again once he went to senior high. I nearly used ‘pace’ rather than ‘thread.’ That would be wrong because the story is quite pedestrian but nevertheless fascinating owing to the master’s storytelling expertise. I just love his prose and some of SK’s metaphors are outstandingly funny.

The narrator was excellent too bringing to life Craig, his dad, and old Mr. Harrigan.

What struck me more than anything else about this story was King making his points about the wide-ranging effects gadgets, and the Internet have had on society. He makes those points astutely and through his mastery of words, and his characters, he points out the internet is like a gushing water main but gushing information, not water.

Now, poor Mr. Harrigan was amazed at this especially when he knew it was all for free. His business acumen found it hard to comprehend. Harrigan was thinking people get conditioned to ‘free.’ It’s not a good thing. [Note: this was before paywalls, subscriptions, and things like adverts on YouTube].

This also made me think of the plethora of free books offered by indie authors like me. I think SK and Mr. Harrigan have a point, don’t you?

To be continued.

Part Two

The Life of Chuck

First thing to notice is I have deducted a star from my rating because this second story … well … I just didn’t ‘get it.’

It seems like three or four short stories all cobbled together in some kind of weirdly experimental style. Sorry, Mr. King, it doesn’t work for me no matter you are such a talented writer.

Once more, I liked the narration (different narrator, I think), and the prose is sometimes exceptional, almost poetic at times.

To be continued …

Part Three

If It Bleeds

Yes, I did enjoy the story and it was my first encounter with the character Holly Gibney. I really must go on to read the The Outsider.

One big criticism though. I did not like the male narrator’s take on Holly. His “breathless” slightly higher-pitched voice was both rubbish and distracting from the story. I find this amazing because you would think SK’s publisher would be able to find a good male/female narration team. If they don’t know of one then may I suggest the husband/wife team who narrated Death Among Us: An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories. They are superb!

Just started the final story, ‘The Rat,’ and it sounds good to me. One final thought before I conclude with Part Four after finishing the book, this audiobook does nothing to promote audiobooks. I would rather have read it than listened because in that way I could have heard Holly in my own head as opposed to a pantomime dame impersonation by the narrator.

Part Four

Finished ‘The Rat.’ I did enjoy it and do think it was possibly the best of all. It was conventional, well written and well narrated with undertones of the ‘Shining.’ I really liked SK’s style in this one as for me, he strives in other stories, and at odd times to show us how clever he is. It irks me as it’s not necessary.

Conclusion: Overall 4 Stars for the stories. Three Stars for narration. It’s put me off renewing my Audible subscription. I’ll stick with eBooks and print in future.

Side note: It took me so long to finish as I was distracted by the ‘Outlander’ series on Netflix. Loved it!

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