The Bazaar of Bad Dreams – Stephen King (Hodder)

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A collection with bite.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King’s latest collection, will delight his fans. Alongside a wide variety of stories (around 20 in total, including two poems), which I’ll come to in a minute, King introduces each tale with a short piece telling how that story came about. These provide an invaluable insight into the mind of one of our finest writers, and are an involving read in their own right.

The anthology includes stories such as ‘Mile 81’, a tale of a young boy’s encounter with a hungry creature disguised as a car; ‘Bad Little Kid’, a wonderful story of a killer’s confession about the reasoning behind his crime, and a truly evil child; ‘Batman and Robin  Have An Altercation’ is an emotional story that reveals the devastating effects of Alzheimers’ – both on the sufferer and those around them; ‘The Dune’ shows us an old man relating how he found a dune on a small island just offshore that predicts who will die – and its latest prediction.  ‘Morality’ is an absorbing story of temptation, and the effects succumbing to it might have on a marriage, while ‘Blockade Billy’ has a firm basis in King’s other love, baseball.

This collection shows King when he’s at his best; the stories inside all resonate with deeply human characters and emotion, told in his own inimitable style, whether the story itself is a character study, a good old-fashioned monster tale or, indeed, one of the two poems, ‘The Bone Church’ or ‘Tommy’.

In his introduction to the book, King invites us to peruse the stories he has laid out for us to read. As he himself says, ‘“Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.” Marie O’Regan

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