Needful Things by Stephen King
A new store has opened in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. It has whatever your heart desires…if you’re willing to pay the price. In this chilling novel by one of the most potent imaginations of our time, evil is on a shopping spree and out to scare you witless.
Despite having some new releases on the list, I wanted this to be my first Horror October read…but that may have been a bit of a mistake.
I love Stephen King. I have issues with his endings a lot of the time, but no one can argue with his craftmanship or imagination. Needful Things however, was a massive struggle.
In this book, King makes a return to Castle Rock, Maine, which I first heard about from his previous novels, It (shudder) and Pet Sematary, and he’s right, I did feel like I’d been there before.
From the off, King works his magic in introducing you to a location and its inhabitants, making it feel instantly real and ominous. We meet Leland Gaunt, owner of the eponymous new shop with its mysterious name and strange products. In a small town like Castle Rock, this is understandably big news, and the townsfolk are full of gossip and speculation.
There is something for everyone in Needful Things, you just have to think about what you want most of all, and Leland Gaunt can find it. But he doesn’t want your money, he wants something else altogether…begging the question, how far will you go for the thing you want most?
I did love certain parts of this book. I loved the prologue most of all, where we get a tour of town from an anonymous narrator who gives it a sinister Carnie sort of feel. And as with most of King’s work to date, he slowly introduces a large cast of characters, all of them unique and intriguing.
But after the good start, my heart really wasn’t it. I found Needful Things so hard to get through. It probably didn’t help that I only manged to find thirty minutes at a time to read it, and that the font was so small every page seemed to take an age…and I just wanted it to speed up, or end.
A few of the characters did keep me reading though. Brian Rusk for one, and also the relationship between Alan Pangborn and Polly was interesting, but ultimately it wasn’t enough for me to love this book. I loved the idea of it, and appreciated the whole materialistic message, but it didn’t excite me, or creep me out like I was expecting.
I think this is one of those cases where I just wasn’t in the right mindset to read a slow-burning tome, so hopefully one day I’ll return to Castle Rock and have an altogether different experience. I live in hope.
Needful Things is available in paperback from Waterstones now.