King opens the Afterword of Full Dark, No Stars, saying, “The stories in this book are harsh.  You may have found them hard to read in places,” and he would be 100% correct.  For Stephen King to hit another level of graphic violence and disturbing content after decades of writing is an accomplishment that I was amazed and shocked by while reading these four stories.

The first two stories in this collection – “1922” and “Big Driver” – were the most intense and upsetting for me.  There were a few times, after reading a section, I had to set the book down and take a break.  Both stories contain some pretty viscerally impactful moments that made them often tough to get through, but like all of King’s work, he delivers solid and powerful narratives.

The other two stories, “Fair Extension” and “A Good Marriage,” are more like classic King stories.  They, too, have their moments but are not nearly as graphic and violence-charged as the first two.  It doesn’t mean they are any less entertaining to read since I could easily get through both and enjoyed how King crafted both tales.

But fair warning to readers about “1922” and “Big Driver”: if graphic violence isn’t your thing, you may want to skip these or take your time getting through them.  Clearly, based on the Afterword, King was very aware of what he was writing, even stating, “I found them equally hard to write in places.”

The abovementioned Afterword gives us insight into the inspirations for all four stories, and King shows that even a small observation in our daily lives can evolve into a larger story.

Full Dark, No Stars is the fourth short story/novella collection I’ve read of King’s, and it wins the prize as his most disturbing collection yet.  I do recommend it, but if you find “1922” and “Big Driver” too much to handle, don’t say I didn’t warn you.