I got into Stephen King late in life, which was mostly due to me not being a fan of horror. The only two King books I read as a teen were Eyes of the Dragon and Misery. The former is a fantasy story while the latter actually is horror, though the villain is a psycho fan and not a supernatural clown. The psycho clown was simply a bridge too far.
When I finally dove into King in my thirties, it was The Dark Towers series that I first read. I was rediscovering my love of fantasy and King fit in. But once my toe was dipped into the work of King, I could not stop. I devoured Salem’s Lot, The Stand, Hearts in Atlantis, 11/22/63 and many others.
Now reading a few King books a year is a regular part of my reading life. This year I read Desperation and The Regulators, which take place in a sort of parallel universe with the same characters in different locations. I read the Bill Hodges trilogy, King’s series of detective novels – Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keeper and End of Watch. Then I followed Holly Gibney, a character in those novels, into The Outsider. Now I am reading If It Bleeds, completing the Gibeny pentalogy (is that a word?).
But my favorite King read this year has been IT. I knew this was widely considered one of his two best works, along with The Stand. I had slowly built up my courage as I read the stories with vampires and other supernatural creatures. IT, featuring Pennywise, was the last bridge to cross. My final foray into the depths of King’s mind.
Well, it was one of my favorite books of the year.
One of my first reactions to the book was that I wish I had read it sooner. Yes, IT is a horror story featuring a murderous supernatural clown. But it is so much more. IT is truly a fantastic story filled with compelling multi-layered characters.
Next year will certainly be a year of more King. Perhaps a return journey to the Dark Tower.