Readers adore Stephen Kings novels, and his novellas are their own dark treat, briefer but just as impactful and enduring as his longer fiction. Many of his novellas have been made into iconic films, including The Body (Stand by Me) and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Shawshank Redemption).
The four brilliant tales in If It Bleeds prove as iconic as their predecessors. In the title story, reader favorite Holly Gibney (from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider) must face her fears, and possibly another outsiderthis time on her own. In Mr. Harrigans Phone an intergenerational friendship has a disturbing afterlife. The Life of Chuck explores, beautifully, how each of us contains multitudes. And in Rat, a struggling writer must contend with the darker side of ambition.
If these novellas show Kings range, they also prove that certain themes endure. One of Kings great concerns is evil, and in If It Bleeds, theres plenty of it. There is also evils opposite, which in Kings fiction often manifests as friendship. Holly is reminded that friendship is not only life-affirming but can be life-saving. Young Craig befriends Mr. Harrigan, and the sweetness of this late-in-life connection is its own reward.
An adroit vehicle to showcase the nature of evil (The Boston Globe), If It Bleeds is exactly what I wanted to read right now, says Ruth Franklin in The New York Times Book Review.