BURNED BY STEPHEN KING AGAIN
When will I ever learn? Every time I’ve ever picked up a horror novel endorsed by Stephen King, it’s totally sucked. Every single time.
This time, I thought it might be different.
King is known to love books with bummer endings. I despise books with bummer endings. While I was in the bookstore, I…no…let me give a bit of background first.
This book first appeared on the new book shelves as a hardback. When I spotted it, I go “Yeah, an icky bug book in hardback!” Seeing one of those is so rare, it’s like seeing a 1909SVDB penny in pocket change. I’m not kidding. Finding horror featured on the hardback shelves should’ve been a big clue right off the bat. First off, unless it’s either Stephen King himself, or Dean Koontz horror, you ain’t gonna see it. Period.
That’s just the way it is in icky bug (horror). They (King and Koontz) are almost the only ones “allowed” to publish horror in hardback, unless it’s self-published. Hah! Not a snowball’s chance in hell will you see it on a shelf in Barnes & Noble if it’s self-published, at least on a feature shelf. There are few rare examples, like I said, the 1909SVDB exceptions.
That brings me to this one. I was nonplussed. My alarm bells went off after I saw the title and back cover blurb. Why? A big old Stephen King endorsement on the front. Right away, I went to the back of the book to see if anyone survived. Sure enough, right in the last paragraph, it didn’t end well. So, I almost threw what could’ve been a good icky bug book back on the shelf. I restrained myself and set it on the shelf rather than risk damaging the merchandise.
Jump forward a year and I’m browsing the regular “general fiction” book shelves, where everything’s mass market and trade paperback. Here’s this book again. I recalled seeing it in hardback on the feature shelf the previous year. Next to it, I see another book by the same author. When I leafed through that one, I caught the same featured character, or at least one with the same name. Huh? Maybe that character never did die in the other one. Maybe, somehow, he managed to survive. If that’s the case, I could chance reading it and ignore King’s endorsement.
So…with that in mind, I bought the book.
Wrong move, Grasshopper.
I finished it, thank the Gods! The whole time, I so wanted to finish it just to get it overwith! OMG, as they say in shortspeak. This book did have a horror premise. In fact, it was full of gore, splatter in fact, but it was really nothing but a character study. It crawled, and not in a good way. The pacing was glacial. Remember me talking about making your story move? Remember me talking about flashbacks, super long diary entries? This guy did it all, and not in a good way.
The story was excruciating. It was literate horror with overlong descriptions and characterizations that went on and on and on and on. I found myself checking the bookmark just to see how many pages I still had to go. It was that bad. The only reason I suffered through the whole thing was that I paid for it and I also wanted to see if somehow, the ending redeemed itself. Unfortunately, and true to a Stephen King endorsement, no ceegar. It ended with a bummer and nothing redeeming whatsoever. The book was a total waste of time and money. It ripped me off.
Folks, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your job as an author is not to torture your readers!
No wonder, as an icky bug novel it made the hardback feature shelf and wasn’t a King or Koontz novel. It was literary horror. In other words, it sucked! Why in the world would the big six ever put a good icky bug novel that was actually fun to read on the shelves? Or, didn’t bury one that didn’t totally suck on the back shelves and not even feature it on the new paperback shelves, like they usually do! You know, sneak it out there so you have to search for it among the thousands of older books? I can’t even count how many times I’ve found my icky bug by accident because they won’t even feature it on the new paperback rack.
After all, that’s what they usually do with any horror story that’s the least bit fun or has a socially redeeming or uplifting plot. Of course, unless you’re either King or Koontz.
But nooo. They have to feature crap like this King-endorsed piece of literary boredom and give horror a bad name.
So, for those of you that write icky bug (horror) like me, be prepared. You certainly have your work cut out for you. More than likely, you’ll be lucky to get a small publisher or have to self-publish. I only ask that you have high standards with your writing.
Speaking of which…