Thad Beaumont is a writer, not a very successful one it has to be said, not until he started to write under the Pseudonym George Stark, a definitive change in direction to something altogether darker and that's what brings the money in. Now it's time to out the Stark and via people magazine, the Pseudonym is finally laid to rest, fake grave and all.
The only problem, George Stark isn't quite ready to rest in peace.
As with my other early King reviews I'll talk about what I liked and disliked about The Dark Half, so there may well be spoilers if you've not read this but I think the vast majority of you devoured this a long time ago.
The best thing about this book is the murderous journey of the 'high toned son of a bitch' George Stark, he's the presence you keep hoping to return to even though you can sort of guess where it's all going. His rampage, unbelievable to most of the authorities, remember the fingerprints but gripping to the reader contained some of my favourite parts of the book.
Just a dream.
'I’m not done with you, cock-knocker, George Stark said softly from behind him. His voice was no longer smiling. His voice was as cold as Castle Lake in November. Remember that. You don’t want to fuck with me, because when you fuck with me….'
One of my favourite parts of the book was at the apartment of
Frederick Clawson, the guy who was planning the big reveal about George Stark. The terror elicited from the journey of Dodie Eberhart, from the front door to the scene of the crime and the click of the door shutting, the realization that the killer had been behind her, was absolutely phenomenal. Superb writing, I have to say.
'Dodie Eberhart raised her voice to its maximum decibel level, windows cracked, the eardrums of small children ruptured, and dogs fell dead.'
And that's before she even gets to the murder scene.
The whole sparrow thing was brilliantly told and bought about the perfect ending, there's a mythology around the sparrows of course carrying the souls of the dead and this brings another creepy element to the story, even though I hate, hate and yes hate the word Psychopomp. Can't help but say it with an intense feeling of distaste, that's just me though. The whole sparrows almost parting to walk through thing is chilling on its own.
Alan Pangborn, the sheriff of Castle Rock is the glue that holds this story together even if his revelation gained from the eventual phone call to the retired surgeon who operated on young Thad was a touch, well unrevelationary (is that made up, sounded right to me). Stark is the firework that holds the attention and Thad is the failed party popper, Mr reliable and decidedly plain.
So my main gripe with this story was the main character Thad Beaumont, I just didn't feel him and I've said it before with Jake Epping from 11/22/63 and Johnny Smith from the Dead Zone. The main difference between these three king novels though is the bad guy, George Stark is leaps and bounds ahead of Lee Harvey Oswald and Greg Stillson as a dread inducing entity. Danger and malevolence seep from the pores of George Stark, a seemingly unstoppable supernatural force on a mission to save himself.
Honestly though this is a brilliant story idea, very well executed but in my eyes lacking just a little with the characterization, I think it will interesting to see where the switch comes, which novel is the turning point that shows the brilliant characterization of things like Joyland and his more recent stuff with the straight up fantastic story telling. The difference in style from his new to older stuff is still apparent though at this point and I definitely prefer the style of his new stuff, although many won’t agree.
And this passage, fucking spiders.
‘Stark sliced upward, splitting the crotch of Eddings’s beige trooper uniform, splitting his scrotal sac, drawing the razor up and out in a long, buttery stroke. Eddings’s balls, suddenly untethered from each other, swung back against his inner thighs like heavy knots on the end of an unravelling sash-cord. Blood stained his pants around the zipper. For a moment he felt as if someone had jammed a handful of ice cream into his groin . . . and then the pain struck, hot and full of ragged teeth. He screamed.’