Title: If It Bleeds

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 375

Rating: 3.25/5

I think I might have shot myself in the foot here by hyping myself up about this release before I ever got to it. It’s Stephen King’s latest book and while I’ve avoided spoilers etc. by not reading people’s reviews, it seems to me that people have been mostly positive about it. But for me, it just wasn’t that good.

The first story (Mr Hannigan’s Phone) and the last story (The Rat) both read like any random author of a professional standard trying to emulate King, which is a shame. The second story was told in the form of a classic three-act story, only backwards. It wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think that running it backwards added anything to it. It felt more like an intellectual experiment than anything serious.

Which leaves us with the title story, If It Bleeds, which is essentially a new addition to the Bill Hodges series, following Holly Gibney and a few other familiar faces. Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly like the Hodges series, mostly because I don’t think supernatural and paranormal elements work particularly well when integrated with a gritty crime story. Mr Mercedes was good, but then it just went nuts, and not in a good way.

Still, as a standalone it works quite well, although I’d say that you really need to read The Outsider before you read If It Bleeds. The story was good too, and it was nice to spend time with Holly. She’s a cracking character, I just don’t think she’s had the best stories to be featured in.

But what really annoys me is that the entire rear cover of my copy is dedicated to a blurb that only covers the one story, takes you up to two pages before the end, is clunky misdirection and isn’t even shown happening. It could almost be talking about a different story. It’s like writing a blurb about the original Star Wars trilogy which doesn’t mention the Death Star, the force or the rebellion but which does promise an ewok party.

It was okay for most, poor for King and overall just a bit of a bummer.

Learn more about If It Bleeds.