Night Shift – Stephen King

imageBook 5 of the Stephen King Challenge is Night Shift. Night Shift is the first short story collection from Stephen King and it is quite simply the finest group of short stories that I’ve ever read. While not all of them are 5 star reads, as a whole the entire compilation is amazing. This is King at his utmost finest.

Here is my breakdown of each story –
Jerusalem’s Lot – A short story that pre-dates the happenings in ‘Salem’s Lot. The story takes place in 1850 and is written in epistolary form where the main character, Charles Boone inherits an old mansion near Preacher’s Corners. The town folk are leery of Mr. Boone and his manservant, Calvin McCann, and feel that the mansion is cursed. Upon inspecting the house, they find an old map that leads them to a deserted town nearby called Jerusalem’s Lot. They find out that the town is deserted for a reason. The story wears its Lovecraft influences well.

4 out of 5 stars
Graveyard Shift – A fun romp in an old mill on the river that is filled with rats. The asshole of a foreman leads a team of workers to come in while the mill is shut down for the holiday to clean out the basement. The creepy atmosphere drips off the pages as you are led into the dark corners of the basement and beyond where there are rats, rats, and more rats.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Night Surf – The story that led into the idea of The Stand. While that sounds like a great read, it’s not. Unfocused and very little point.

2 out of 5 stars
I Am The Doorway – Now this one is a fun marriage of Ray Bradbury meets The Twilight Zone. What did an astronaut bring back from his space exploration of Venus? Yeesh!

5 out of 5 stars
The Mangler – Can a huge commercial laundry machine have a demon inside? It sure can if it’s located in Maine. While the idea seems silly, King does a good job keeping everything tongue in cheek.

4 out of 5 stars
The Boogeyman – Three dead kids and the closet door is always open, just a crack. Was it an accident, murder by an abusive father, or was it the Boogeyman? Great story that has shades of EC Comics Tales From The Crypt-type of feel.

5 out of 5 stars
Grey Matter – Another EC Comic inspired story about what can happen if you drink skunky beer. Loved it!

5 out of 5 stars
Battleground – What every kid whose played with those little green army men has daydreamed about. A direct hit!

5 out of 5 stars
Trucks – a bleak existence as automobiles and owners trade places as masters and slaves.

4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes They Come Back – The new students in Jim’s class look and act a lot like the greasers who killed his brother all those years ago. How is that possible? What do they want? How will Jim ever get rid of them? Great story!

4.5 out of 5 stars
Strawberry Spring – A killer is on the loose during a Strawberry Spring. Not a bad story, but not quite as good as the others.

3.5 out of 5 stars
The Ledge – What would you do to win your freedom and the woman you love? Would you walk around a 5″ ledge of a building 43 stories in the air? This story made my ankles hurt and my balls retract up into my stomach. Good stuff!

5 out of 5 stars
The Lawnmower Man – WTF was that? I don’t think Loony Toons could come up with something this silly.

2 out of 5 stars
Quitters Inc – Now if only we had watchdog organizations like this. We’d all live to be a hundred. Really enjoyed this one.

5 out of 5 stars
I Know What You Need – Ed comes into Beth’s life and always seems to know just what she needs. Good story, but I would’ve preferred a nastier/scarier ending.

4 out of 5 stars
Children Of The Corn – Burt and Vicky find out that Gatlin, Nebraska is no tourist destination. Starts out with good scares but then ends flat. I have to admit, it was too hard to not think of the movie while reading this and it probably ruined it for me. I wanted more.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars
The Last Rung On The Ladder – Larry and his sister Kitty weren’t supposed to climb the rickety ladder that led to the haymow when they were kids. But sometimes temptation is too much and the thrill of plunging down into the loose hay below disguises the danger. King’s descriptive abilities inserts the reader into the story. You can smell the dusty hay, feel the wobbly ladder, and feel the fall pull your stomach into your throat. Great story!

5 out of 5 stars
The Man Who Loved Flowers – Twisted tale of what could be going on when you see a man carrying flowers down the street.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
One For The Road – A tie-in story that takes place 2 years after the happenings in Salem’s Lot. Great storytelling where you can feel the frosty air in your lungs and the terror in your chest.

5 out of 5 stars
The Woman In The Room – A sad tale about the struggle to euthanize a loved one to ease their suffering. More depressing than anything.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars
Again, the whole thing was such a blast to read. I savored every morsel. If you haven’t read Night Shift yet, plunk your hard earned cash down now.
5 out of 5 stars!
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

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