2022 Book Review: If It Bleeds

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

A Horror, 2020 by Scribner, 447 Pages 

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Genre issues. These are described as horror but they’re really not as scary as we’ve come to expect from King. They’re paranormal or creepy, sure, but they were calmer than I was wanting. 
  • Not all equal. In fact, I’m not a fan of The Life of Chuck. It was boring and dry. 
  • Typical characters. Having read a lot of King, I’m starting to realize he has some typical characters he loves to come back to. There are often writers, teachers, or both. You’ll find more of those in these short stories. 

What I Did Like:

  • Masterful short stories. King excels at the short story. They’re fully descriptive and loaded with characters who feel real despite clocking in at smaller word counts. They’ll make you feel for the characters and get you wrapped up in the world. These four shorts are no exception. 
  • Holly Gibney. She’s not everyone’s favorite, but I like her. She’s quirky and odd, her cases are supernatural and unusual, but something about her just hooked me from the get go. Holly was, of course, a side character in the Mr Mercedes series by King. She has since appeared as the main character in The Outsider and now appears again in If It Bleeds. I love that she’s atypical from your standard private investigator. 
  • Rat. Not all stories in an anthology are created equal and this one is the best in this collection, in my opinion. Rat is a startlingly simple premise, one which you may even have heard before, but told in a way that is utterly captivating. Despite feeling like I knew where it was headed, this one sucked me right in. I loved it. 

Who Should Read This One:

  • King fans, obviously. This one will especially appeal to fans of The Outsider as it’s a pretty direct continuation of that storyline. 
  • Short story fans or students of the short story. These ones are well done. 
  • Fans of the supernatural in their scary stories. 

My Rating: 3 Stars. 

  • You have to love short stories and enjoy supernatural leanings to your stories, then you’ll find these exceptional. 

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