Review of 'The Bazaar of Bad Dreams'

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

bad_dreams.jpg A collection of 21 short stories from the master of American popular literature ranging from the expected horror pieces (“Mile 81” and “Bad Little Kid”) all the way to humour (“Drunken Fireworks”) with even a piece of poetry (“The Bone Church”) thrown in for good measure leaving us with a (depressing) tale of the apocalypse (“Summer Thunder”). All these US-based stories are easy to read and all come with a short introduction often with King explaining that he is not quite sure where his inspiration came from when writing.

One of King's strengths is being able to write in various different voices and in different genres as demonstrated here. It is where the story veers towards the fantastic that things become interesting as you try to figure out what is going on and accept the fantastic events as they unfold - King is a master here. Most of the stories, most between 20 and 30 pages long, have at least an element of a “sting in the tail”, as King admits, making them a very fun, short, read indeed so easy to put aside and pick up again as you wish.

My favourite is probably “Morality” - A tale of an older minister who pays a wanna-be writer to perform a small act of sin and the resulting fall out. Shades of “Indecent Proposal” but it is an excellent character study and with the writing element to it, very much in the realm of King's experience. “Afterlife” is an amusing though interesting take on what happens after we die complete with bureaucracy whose sting was somewhat unexpected. While “Herman Wouk is Still Alive” is an odd title this story truly shocks with extreme tragedy arguing strongly, on the way, as an argument against drink driving. “Mile 81” reminded me a bit of the violent car in “Christine” - Extremely odd yet simple in premise and execution. In “Blockade Billy” we even get a story of old-time baseball complete with quite an impressive display of the understanding of the sport by King that often made me having to think about what he was talking about but the story has a typically King-esque twist that made the effort worthwhile. “Summer Thunder” deeply depressed me. I could go on but you will have to pick it up and explore yourself.

Easy to read and not just for lovers of horror. Sit back and enjoy the master at work.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-01-22

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Hodder

Publication Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781473698925

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