Title: Skeleton Crew
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 772
I’ve been meaning to get to this book for a while now, and for several reasons. One of the biggest is the fact that it contains the story The Mist, the movie of which is probably my favourite Stephen King adaptation, as well as one of my favourite horror movies in general. It’s notable for having the bleakest ending I’ve ever seen in a movie, and it’s actually a pretty faithful adaptation of King’s original story, up until that ending. King’s ending isn’t bad, but the movie’s ending was better.
This is also the home of The Jaunt, which is notable to me because it’s the first King that I ever read. We studied it at university, and while I did enjoy it, it wasn’t enough to turn me into the die-hard King fan that I later became. I appreciated it a little more on a re-read and thought it was one of the better stories in the collection, but King has definitely written better.
I should also mention that I started reading this book as part of a bind-up that included both Skeleton Crew and Different Seasons, the latter of which I’d already read. The only problem is that I got about eighty pages into it and discovered that it was a misprint and was missing about fifty pages, so I had to get my friend Jo to send me a new copy via Amazon Prime. It cut out in the middle of The Mist, and I still haven’t forgiven it for making me stop in the middle and hampering my reading enjoyment.
Other than that, it’s just a pretty good collection, and like any short story collection, it has its highs and its lows. I definitely think that King has written better short story collections, but then he’s got close to a dozen of them by this point and so that’s not really saying much. He’s also written worse ones, so make of that as you will.
I also felt that there was a lull towards the middle of the book where there were a few mediocre stories in a row, but then it starts to pick up steam again with a story about a word processor that almost reads as though someone was trying to imitate King and to write the “Kingiest” story that they could.
I’m not really sure what else to tell you about this one, but the rules of my reviews mean that there has to be as many words to the review as there are pages in the book, and this is a bit of a chunker, especially in paperback. It was actually about 200 pages longer than the hardback version I had, and that’s after you factor in the missing pages.
And so I figure I’ll break from tradition and include a bulleted list of the stories that you can expect to see here:
- The Mist
- Here There Be Tygers
- The Monkey
- Cain Rose Up
- Mrs Todd’s Shortcut
- The Jaunt
- The Wedding Gig
- Paranoid: A Chant
- The Raft
- Word Processor of the Gods
- The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands
- The Reaper’s Image
- For Owen
- Survivor Type
- Uncle Otto’s Truck
- Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)
- Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman #2)
- The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
- The Reach
I will say that typing up this list reminded me of a few of the stories that I hadn’t mentioned. In particular, I’d have to say that Mrs Todd’s Shortcut was one of my favourites. Funnily enough, I just interviewed a horror author called Newton Webb and we were chatting about the concept of creeping horror. Mrs Todd’s Shortcut does a great job of that and almost reminds me of H. P. Lovecraft.
I quite liked The Monkey, too. True, I wasn’t particularly keen on the way that it ended, but I thought that the concept was pretty good (it focuses on an evil version of those little clapping monkeys) and I’m definitely a little bit creeped out by the damn things. I’m glad I’ve never owned one.
And so that pretty much brings me up to the end of this review, and about time too. There was a lot to like here, but there was also a bunch of filler. With that said, King is such a cracking writer that I’d read his shopping lists, and so even when I’m reading one of the stories that doesn’t vibe with me as much, I’m still having fun. Good times!