Rather than look at Full Dark, No Stars as a whole, let’s look at each story on its own, starting with the highlight of the book, 1922. Like some other King stories, 1922 loses its luster once the supernatural enters into the story. For about the first half, it deserves the comparisons it’s received to Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. King keeps the threat of the supernatural looming, yet it manifests as a believable extension of his characters’ guilt. Then all subtlety is lost and the story devolves into you typical King fare, up to and including the let down of an ending.
From then on in, Full Dark, No Stars was nothing but disappointment. Big Driver has a woman carrying on conversations with her cat and GPS, and is your standard revenge fantasy beyond that. Fair Extension sounds like a winner in concept – you can relieve your own burdens, but only if you agree to pass them onto someone else – but it overstays its welcome, spending too much time detailing the divergent paths of the formerly burdened and the people that burden was passed onto. I’ve heard complaints about King overwriting before, yet this is the first time I’ve agreed with them. He should’ve limited it to a short story, if not a piece of flash fiction.
Lastly, there’s A Good Marriage, the worst of the bunch. It takes an overdone concept, someone learning they don’t know a loved one as well as they thought they did, then proceeding to pretend as if nothing’s changed, and does nothing new with it.
That leaves Full Dark, No Stars with one story worth reading, one which I feel would’ve been better off if King had ended it long before he did and left the fate of Wilfred and Henry up to our imaginations. All in all, I suggest you read it only if you’re a King completionist.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.