If It Bleeds by Stephen King is a collection of four short novellas. To put it mildly, majority of these were just not good at all. Not only were they disappointing but they were just not scary. Maybe I’m past the point of being able to be scared by reading stories in a book but I expected much more from the master storyteller himself. It’s been a while since I’ve a read anything by Stephen King so I was giddy with excitement. However, I also remember that while he is a professional, I’ve been disappointed in the past with his works. I had to put The Stand in my ‘Unfinished’ category after 30% in but loved Under the Dome, which many hated. I stopped the continuation of the Dark Tower series after book four so or. The last novella I read similar to If It Bleeds was Different Seasons and that was also a hit and miss.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone This to me actually represented the best short story out of the entire bunch. For starters, I believe it was the creepiest. Secondly, it didn’t feel as long winded as the others. Reading the story actually brought back memories of the anime Death Note in that they sort of have similar themes where the character is able to call on the grim reaper to do its bidding. The mysterious vibe I got matched the atmosphere very well and made the story that much more enjoyable. I actually wanted to find out what happened in the end and so I quickly breezed through it in one go. I was excited and had high hopes for the following stories if they were able to match or outdo Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. I was wrong.
The Life of Chuck The second novella I guess was the author’s attempt at blending in some sci-fi into the mix. The story initially captured my attention because again, it felt mysterious and weird but in a good way. The part regarding the characters initially seeing Chuck everywhere they go seemed pretty creepy and ominous. All of a sudden, the author revealed the big surprise and I thought to myself, wow, that was way shorter than I thought. However, that was not to be because we then get to spend many more pages going over what and how everything came to be. It was just mediocre at best as it felt winded and soon afterwards I didn’t feel connected anymore and wanted it to come to an end. As the reader, I understood the need to go over things but it just wasn’t that interesting once the surprise was revealed.
If It Bleeds Ah yes, the titled story. Surely this must be the best out of the bunch, right? Nope, not even close. This is a prime example of how a story is way longer than it has any right to be in my honest opinion. The two previous stories weren’t scary but rather a bit creepy. Towards the beginning, I couldn’t think of how the story could be considered horror but then the author slowly but surely revealed the surprise and once again, it just felt a little creepy. I felt this would actually have made for a good short film instead. It also reminded me of a similar novel the author wrote called Needful Things. Towards the later half I felt the need to just skip/glance over certain parts until I got dialogue although I admit I even skipped some dialogue between the character and her mom. To not spoil things, I hope I wasn’t the only one that caught the character doing something so stupid during the confrontation that I had to blink couple times and reread the passage. It’s one of those where you don’t want your close friends or family to get hurt but then you’ve gone ahead and done something that does just that. Some parts didn’t feel very thought out and I guess even the author just wanted it to end.
Rat At this point, I didn’t have much in the way of expectation even for the ending novella. I actually found myself relating to the character on this one and I think we’ve all been there before. Finding the right words to put down on paper for a story, essay or blog article can be mentally challenging at times and downright frustrating for others. However, there was nothing really creepy or even scary at all after or during the reveal. The story just felt like a struggling author trying to complete his first actual novel. Maybe the author is writing from actual past experiences he himself had to go through in the past? Either way, similar to the previous three stories, it felt longer than it needed to be and could have ended way sooner.
If you noticed the theme here, each story got less and less creepy/scary. Also, each one after another felt unnecessarily longer than it needed to be. Again, not sure how else to feel after having read this book other than disappointment.