The Mist – 4/5
I’ve read and reread The Mist a number of times, mostly separate from the rest of the stories in this collection. I often found that once I was done with it, given that it’s over 100 pages, I was kind of spent. I also found, that especially with horror stories and sci-fi stories etc, that audiobook versions are so so so much better for me.
The Mist also works a lot differently because it’s built more like a Stephen King novel than a short story. We’re eased in a little bit. The story takes place in a seaside town, probably a lot like Freeport, and our narrator is a family man in his thirties. We’re made to understand that it’s summer and there’s about to be some serious storms coming soon. The town is slowly prepping for them, in the ways they do. The storm comes, trees and buildings are downed, and we’re treated to some additional character elements–the narrator’s son is taught a lesson leaving downed wires alone and our narrator has some grumbling thoughts about his neighbor’s dead tree, which he had asked him to remove, had smashed the boathouse.
Then, our narrator goes into town to get some food, and its in the parking lot of the grocery store where he sees the mist rolling in. It’s different because it’s moving against the wind and seems also to be dry. When it finally cloaks the store, it’s clear that something is wrong. The most of the rest of the story takes place in the store as it becomes clear the mist is full of Lovecraftian monsters (something discussed repeatedly directly and indirectly) and that it was probably brought into existence via some mysterious experiment at the military base. And like most Stephen King stories, there’s monsters and there’s people who act like monsters. A religious nut from the town slowly breaks down and begins to get a cult following — they’re a few aisles over. And a group of more able citizens begins to realize that staying put is a death sentence.
Skeleton Crew – 4/5
The rest of the collection is full of some of the classics of Stephen King stories. The most famous of which are “The Monkey” which is not the basis of the movie “Monkey Shines” even though the poster of that film looks a whole lot like the cover of this book. “The Jaunt” which was almost maybe going to be filmed is another well-known one. “The Raft” was featured in Creepshow 2 (a bad sequel to an already not great movie), and “Uncle Otto’s Truck” which is another car story.
The collection does what good collections do: keeps you moving forward. This is a compelling collection, and while I don’t agree with the Stephen King readers who think his stories are better than his novels (I also don’t agree that he’s “bad at endings”), I do find the story collection to be one of the more successful of his career. He’s got a tendency to publish them when it’s time for a new one (a good thing), but also to include almost everything that he’s written recently, which sometimes leads to stories about his kids’ baseball teams among others.