Stephen King's The Dark Half |

Stephen King's The Dark Half was first released in 1989 and is a slightly darker horror novel than his usual offerings. The book was well received and was only outsold by 'Clear and Present Danger' by Tom Clancy in the year it was published.

During the 1970's and the 1980's King wrote a number of books under a different pen name, Richard Bachman and these books were more cynical and darker in nature than King's normal psychological and gothic style of horror. King wrote The Dark Half immediately after having his pen name discovered which partly explains why the novel is darker thanhaps other books written by King around the same time.

Stephen King's The Dark Half revolves around Thad Beaumont, an author who is trying to recover from alcoholism and the story is set in the small town of Ludlow, Maine. Beaumont who writes literary fiction for a living is not particularly successful and although King has been successful using his own name as well as a pseudonym, the character Beaumont also writes books under a pseudonym, George Stark, his books being far more successful. Stark writes crime books with the main character being a violent murderer called Alexis Machine. When Stark's real identity becomes public knowledge, Thad and his wife decide to hold a mock funeral for his pen name character.

After being buried, Stark climbs out of the grave as an actual physical entity and embarks on a number of killings, targeting everyone he holds accountable for his death, characters such as the interviewer from 'People' magazine who made him public knowledge as well as Beaumont's agent and editor. Whilst Stark is carrying out these murderers Beaumont experiences a number of surreal visions and nightmares. The number of murders associates the interest of Sheriff Pangborn who travels over from neighboring Castle Rock, a town that is featured in a number of King's novels.

Sheriff Pangborn incrementally believes that Beaumont is responsible for the murderers even though he can provide alibis at the time of each death. As Beaumont discovers that he has a mental connection with Stark, Sheriff Pangborn learns that Beaumont had a twin, an unborn brother that merged with Beaumont in the womb but which later had to be removed by a neurosurgeon. When the doctor removed the twin he found an eye, some fingernails and part of a nose, raising questions about whether Stark is the embodiment of an evil spirit or whether Beaumont himself manifests as Stark as a split personality.

As with many of King's books, although Beaumont ever overcomes Stark and vanquishes him the novel ends on an unhappy note with Beaumont's wife holding serious doubts about the future of their marriage after she learns that he had not only created a Stark but that some part of him actually liked him.

Stephen King's The Dark Half manages to combine a well constructed and highly entertaining storyline with the author's comments regarding his own situation with having his pseudonym made public. As with King's book 'Misery' where he conveys the feeling of a writer being trapped by his own successful creations, The Dark half manages to convey a similar point while never losing the suspension and horror that makes this book a thoroughly entertaining reading.

Source by John Kilmerstone

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