Tag: Cancer

Stephen King and Peter Straub – The Talisman | Review

Title: The Talisman

Author: Stephen King and Peter Straub

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 774

Rating: 4*/5


Stephen King and Peter Straub - The Talisman

Stephen King and Peter Straub – The Talisman


When I picked this up, one of my friends said that this was one of King’s best, but I disagree. It’s pretty good though, and while it might not make it into my ranking of his top ten, it would make it into my top twenty. Still, I’m glad that I picked it up, and it was especially cool because I blazed through it in three days when I was on holiday in Berlin.

Still, it was a pretty good read, and I was surprised by how seamless it was in terms of having two authors but feeling like it only had one. In fact, it just felt like a Stephen King book, so I’m not too sure what role Peter Straub played in its creation. I’ve never read any of his stuff before, but I’m tempted to, especially after reading this.

The Talisman is basically a dimension-hopping road trip novel in which a young boy must make his way across America in search of a mysterious object that has the power to cure his mother’s cancer. I guess because of the age of the protagonist, it’s basically a YA book from a time before YA really existed, which is interesting. I still feel like it’s aimed more at adults than at children, though.


Stephen King

Stephen King


It’s worth noting that I picked up on a few things that my editor would have flagged if I’d written this. For example, there were a couple of places where there was a perspective shift and we hopped from one character’s head to another. I also found a few places where speech marks or full stops were missing, and there were a bunch of layout fails where certain pages were printed so close to the margin that they were almost cut off the end. It also ended two separate scenes at different points with “all hell broke loose”, which is something that I did in one of my short stories. Pam Elise Harris, my editor, told me to show and not tell, and she had a point.

Still, it was a decent read, just a pretty good adventure novel, and I’m actually looking forward to reading Black House, which is some sort of sequel. I actually picked that one up first and then realised that The Talisman came first, but most people on Goodreads seemed to think that Black House was nowhere near as good. I’ll probably save it until I go 0n another holiday.

All in all though, I thought it was a pretty good book. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good, and it’s definitely one to look out for if you’re a fan of either of the authors. For me, it’s also been a nice way to sort of cross-pollinate my reading tastes and to ease myself into Peter Straub’s work. I’ve heard quite a lot of good stuff about Straub and I’ve always suspected that I’d like his writing, and after this I kind of want to pick up one of his books to see if I can identify which parts of The Talisman came from him.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


I was also thinking about this afterwards and I started to notice some similarities between The Talisman and King’s Dark Tower series. There weren’t necessarily outright references that linked the two of them together, but you could argue that there’s a Ka-tet of sorts and both books basically deal with a long journey towards some some mysterious object, whether that’s The Talisman or whether it’s The Dark Tower itself. Both of them involve people hopping between two different worlds, too.

I also thought that the pacing was good, especially when you consider that it was over seven hundred pages with pretty small print. It maybe got a little faster at the end, but not to such an extent that it made the rest of the book feel slow, and it was interesting to see how the two worlds – and people’s Twinners – came together. If you’ve read King before then you’re probably familiar with how well-thought out his books are, and this is the perfect example. Everything is connected and nothing happens without a reason.

So if you’re wondering whether to read this or not, the answer is, “Yes, you should totally read it.” It’s a great little book and it’s a lot of fun, with elements of everything from horror to a classic adventure story thrown in there. It might not be King’s best, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It’s definitely worth a read.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Click here to buy The Talisman.


Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars | Review

Title: Full Dark, No Stars

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 468

Rating: 9/10


Stephen King - Full Dark, No Stars

Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars


“Is it possible to ever fully know anyone? Even those we love the most?” So starts this collection of novella-length stories, and I have to say – it’s a cracker. In fact, this is easily my favourite collection of multiple Stephen King stories, and way better than Just After Sunset, which I recently read. And the cool thing is, because there were only five stories here, I can talk in-depth about each one.

It started off with my favourite of the lot, a piece called 1922 which follows the story of a farmer who kills his wife to stop her from selling her family’s land to a corporation. The farmer and his son end up in a downward spiral, with life getting worse and worse. The father even starts to see rats everywhere, while the boy is trying to hide the family secret while starting up a relationship with a neighbouring girl. It’s beautifully written and deeply haunting, and probably my favourite Stephen King story to date.

Up next, we have a story called Big Driver, which follows the story of an author who’s raped in an abandoned convenience store and who goes after the man who did it to her. She goes from being like Miss Marple to being like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Then there’s Fair Extension, a story about a man with cancer who makes a deal with a man who’s able to sell you extensions, whether we’re talking about a penis extension, a loan extension or, indeed, a life extension. But of course, a deal like that comes with a cost…

Up next, there’s A Good Marriage, which tells the story of what happens when a woman finds a box that her husband has kept secret and which makes her start to wonder whether the man she’s loved all these years is actually a serial killer.

This is the point at which the initial print run of this book came to an end, but here there’s an extra short called Under the Weather. The other ‘short stories’ in this book are actually not so short, but this one really does stick to the true spirit of how long a short story, culturally at least, is expected to be. Interestingly enough, it’s also the weakest story of the lot, although it’s still pretty good because come on, it’s Stephen King.

Overall then, this is a pretty good place to start, not just with King’s shorter fiction but with King in general. It’s dark, and I should offer up that most nebulous of things – a trigger warning. It gets pretty violent, and you might want to bear that in mind before you commit.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Click here to buy Full Dark, No Stars.