I credit Stephen King with many things:
- Making me afraid to go to sleep between the ages of 13 and 21.
- Creating some of the all time scariest, coolest, and absolutely horrible made-for-TV movies ever.
- Masterful exploitation of phobias. Clowns, dogs, politicians, disease, children ... If you're afraid of it, King will find it and twist it into something even more terrifying.
- Proving that a genre writer can not only achieve popular success, but critical acclaim as well.
- Setting the productivity bar unattainably high. Seriously, what human can write 4 novels in a year? Maybe he's not human?
- Not only getting a reluctant teenage boy to read, but to love it, and one day aspire to be an author.
As you can see from the list, I hold the Master of Horror in quite high esteem. As such, I thought it fitting that I dedicate my first ever Halloween blog post to him by listing my top 5 King novels of all time.
I think this is probably the scariest of all of his stories. It has it all - a small town, religious overtones, an out of control killer cop, possessed animals, and so much more. Although King had never been afraid to kill off main characters, this is the story that taught me not to get attached to anyone.
4) Cycle of the Werewolf
The first werewolf story that I'd ever read, and still the standard all these years later. I was fascinated by the idea of the town's religious leader becoming evil incarnate. It was also one of the first books I read where the kids were saving the adults. In that way, I consider it to be one of my first young adult books. The excellent movie, Silver Bullet, was based off of this novella. There's also some fantastic artwork.
3) The Eyes of the Dragon
This isn't a horror novel, it's fantasy. However, it was the first non-school related novel I ever read start-to-finish. I devoured it. It's the story of a troubled king, his 2 sons, and a maniacal wizard bent on ruling the realm. I look back on it now, and see that it was King's ability to create dynamic characters that really made the story shine. This story was the first that took me out of reality and made me truly empathize with a fictional character.
2) The Green Mile
Another non-horror novel, or novella, or series ... I digress. He originally released this story as a series of novellas on a (I think) twice monthly basis. I remember
asking begging my mother to drive me to the store the day the new book would come out (the date of the next installment was printed in the back of each book). King did it as sort of an homage to the old Western and Crime serial novels. They were sort of like long comic books without pictures, if that makes sense. At any rate, The Green Mile solidified (in my mind) his status as not just a great horror writer, but as a great writer. I wept when John Coffee died, and I wasn't at an age that crying over books was considered cool. This story contained mystical elements, but the characters were so expertly handled that it seemed entirely plausible. This story taught me that even the most fantastical tales could contain very real lessons about life and morality.
1) The Stand
I think this book would be in any true King fan's top 5, and probably tops in most of them. It was the first 1,000 + page story I ever tackled, and it could have been another 1,000 pages long and I wouldn't have put it down. To say it's epic would somehow be selling it short. This story has so many characters, and each of them are as vivid as the memories of your childhood best friends. From the first pages you really feel like the world is hanging in the balance. It's the greatest tale of Good Vs Evil outside of the Bible.
So that's my list! I know many of you are King fans, what's your favorite? How about the movies? Hope you all have a safe/happy Halloween.