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You Like It Darker

Release Date: May 21st, 2024

From legendary storyteller and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary new collection of twelve short stories, many never-before-published, and some of his best EVER. “You like it darker? Fine, so do I,”  writes Stephen King in the afterword to this magnificent new collection of twelve stories that delve into the darker part of life—both metaphorical and literal. King has, for half a century, been a master of the form, and these stories, about fate, mortality, luck, and the folds in reality where anything can happen, are as rich and riveting as his novels, both weighty in theme and a huge pleasure to read. King writes to feel “the exhilaration of leaving ordinary day-to-day life behind,” and in  You Like It Darker , readers will feel that exhilaration too, again and again. “Two Talented Bastids” explores the long-hidden secret of how the eponymous gentlemen got their skills. In “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream,” a brief and unprecedented psychic flash upends dozens of lives, Danny’s most catastrophically. In “Rattlesnakes,” a sequel to  Cujo , a grieving widower travels to Florida for respite and instead receives an unexpected inheritance—with major strings attached. In “The Dreamers,” a taciturn Vietnam vet answers a job ad and learns that there are some corners of the universe best left unexplored. “The Answer Man” asks if prescience is good luck or bad and reminds us that a life marked by unbearable tragedy can still be meaningful. King’s ability to surprise, amaze, and bring us both terror and solace remains unsurpassed. Each of these stories holds its own thrills, joys, and mysteries; each feels iconic. You like it darker? You got it.

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Stephen King Has A New Book Coming In 2024, And I'm Crossing My Fingers It Includes His Cujo Sequel

Please, please, please.

In less than a month, a brand new Stephen King novel will be arriving in bookstores everywhere. The book, titled Holly , is his latest centering on protagonist Holly Gibney (from the Bill Hodges trilogy, The Outsider , and "If It Bleeds"), and it's arriving almost exactly one year after the publication of 2022's Fairy Tale . At the age of 75, the author remains as prolific as ever – and he already has exciting plans for 2024 with a new collection titled You Like It Darker .

Stephen King is the guest on the latest episode of the Talking Scared podcast, and he teases his work on his Holly follow-up during the interview. A release date more specific than "2024" isn't offered, but he does say that the omnibus will feature "mostly new stories – long stories, for the most part," and he adds that the hardcover will be a substantial tome of over 600 pages.

He describes a Lovecraftian tale that will be included called "The Dreamers" – which will feature characters accessing a reality that exists beyond dreams that is "apocalyptic," "dark," and "sentient" – but I will admit that I am primarily curious about whether or not You Like It Darker will feature the first publication of "Rattlesnakes," which has been described as a sequel to Cujo .

Stephen King first described "Rattlesnakes" on a podcast in May 2022, and while he didn't give everything about it away, he mentioned that there will be a "terrible scene" where a pair of four-year-old twins fall into a rattlesnake pit. Precisely how it will connect to the 1981 classic about a Saint Bernard who goes on a rabies-induced rampage is unknown, but I'm sure I'm like many of King's Constant Readers in that I'm dying to find out. Knowing King, the new story may be more of a spiritual sequel to Cujo , or it could have deep ties and let readers catch up with the lives of Donna and Vic Trenton in the years after the tragic death of their son (for those of you who have only ever seen the movie, the book's ending is a whole lot darker ).

You Like It Darker looks to be the eleventh Stephen King collection to be released – part of a special run that includes titles like Night Shift , Different Seasons , Skeleton Crew and Four Past Midnight . Some of King's best and most beloved stories (like "The Body," "Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption " and "The Mist") have been featured in these books, and we can only hope that his 2024 addition builds on that legacy.

While we wait for more details about You Like It Darker , fans will be able to dig into Holly soon and satiate the hunger for new Stephen King (copies go on sale September 5). And if that's not enough, you can always rewatch some of the best Stephen King films of all time and read about all of the Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV projects that are currently in the works.

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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.

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Stephen king’s latest book, ‘holly,’ tops bestsellers charts, days after debut.

The new book follows familiar King protagonist Holly Gibney as she untangles a series of disappearances in a midwestern town.

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More than 50 years into his storied career, Stephen King has landed another bestseller.

King, the popular horror and suspense novelist, released his latest book Holly on September 5 and it quickly shot to number one on Amazon’s bestsellers chart .

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Listed at a suggested retail price of $30, Amazon has Holly on hardcover on sale for just $19 right now — a 35% discount. You can also listen to Holly on audiobook narrated by King. Amazon has a 30-day free trial to Audible here that you can use to listen to the Holly audiobook online for free.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone , King says he was drawn to developing another story for the character of Holly because he felt like there was more to explore with her tics and eccentricities. “I like her so much because she’s such a weird combination of insecurity and OCD and detective ability,” he says. “You get to know characters and some you don’t want to go on with. And some of them… I really wanted to see what she was up to.”

As King adds in the accompanying publisher’s notes for Holly , “I could never let Holly Gibney go. She was supposed to be a walk-on character in  Mr. Mercedes  and she just kind of stole the book and stole my heart.”

While much of King’s work takes place in a supernatural realm, the author’s new book is (mostly) centered in the present, with the characters dealing with Covid, and Holly’s Covid-denier mom — spoiler alert — eventually succumbing to the disease. While the book still has paranormal themes (think cannibalistic professors and things that go bump in the night), King says he wanted Holly  to be “a time capsule of a particular time when I was writing the book.”

Holly is now available on Amazon as a hardcover book, for Kindle and as an audiobook. Read the book here.

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Stephen King Knows Anti-Vaxxers Are Going to Hate His Latest Book: ‘Knock Yourself Out’

By Brenna Ehrlich

Brenna Ehrlich

THIS POST CONTAINS spoilers for Stephen King ‘s new book Holly , which comes out today.

Stephen King is readying himself for a flood of hate when his next book, Holly , drops on Sept. 5. “I think that a lot of people are not going to like it,” he says. “I think that a lot of people — particularly people on the other side of the Covid issue and the Trump issue — are going to give it one-star reviews on Amazon. But all I can say to those people is, ‘Knock yourself out.’”

When first we find Holly, she’s attending her Covid-denying mother’s funeral via Zoom, and struggling to finally extricate herself from that domineering woman’s influence. As we saw in Mr. Mercedes and 2018’s The Outsider, Holly spent most of her life at home, sheltered from the world, before teaming up with retired Detective Bill Hodges at the Finders Keepers agency and tapping into her innate crime-solving skills. Holly sees her finally striking out on her own, and entering a world more terrifying than ever before: One in which disease looms around every corner, Black men are murdered in the streets, and, an aging pair of professors trap and eat younger folks in their effort to curtail the march of time. And while King’s books usually truck with the supernatural, this time the horror is all real.

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When did you decide to give Holly her own book? Well, I guess that I just sort of liked Holly a lot. You get to know characters and some you don’t want to go on with. And some of them… I really wanted to see what she was up to. I like her so much because she’s such a weird combination of insecurity and OCD and detective ability.

Do you see yourself in her at all? Yeah, I do. I have a lot of OCD tics, straightening pictures in strange hotel rooms, that sort of thing. I feel like I can’t really go to bed unless I’ve brushed my teeth half a dozen times or something. And so, yeah, I recognize her a lot and I’ve certainly seen a lot of people who are in her situation who have been treated badly through high school and some of the early work experiences, and yet they blossom. I like Holly because she’s a late bloomer, let’s put it that way.

Yeah, I like that as well — that she had this life that her mother wanted for her, and then she completely broke out. Right. Yes. She was supposed to stay under Mother’s thumb, and of course, Mother plays a big part in this book because Holly is never really free of her mother. I don’t think any of us really are.

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I heard the second piece of inspiration for this book was a news story you read about an elderly couple honor-killing a family member. Holly seems to usually deal with supernatural creatures — like the shape-shifting Outsider in the book by that name — but the couple in this book seem far more terrifying. Holly talks a little bit about that at the end, and she says something like, “When you deal with people like the Outsider it’s almost comforting in a way because you can say if there’s an outside force for evil, then there must be an outside force for good.” Where in the real world, when you deal with people like the [cannibalistic professors] the Harrises, they seem outrageous — until you put them in perspective of people like Dennis Rader, the BTK killer who did unspeakable things to his victims, just unspeakable. There are police who were involved with those crimes who simply won’t talk about what they saw at some of those crime scenes. So that’s the inside evil, the prosaic side of it.

[Rader] was a very prosaic man and in a lot of ways the Harrises are prosaic people. They’re academics. I’m sure that you’ve been to college and you have known professors who would climb up on their hobby horses and just sort of babble on about those things. And Rodney Harris is that kind of guy. He just believes in the sanctity of meat.

There have been a lot of cannibals popping up in pop culture recently . What do you think it is about them that it’s so disquieting to us? I think that it’s one of the final taboos. One of the interesting things about all of those creatures that have been spawned by George Romero, the zombies, the flesh-eating zombies, we say to ourselves, “Oh, my God, that is the worst thing that I can possibly think of.” Rodney is in a class by himself, Rodney and Emily both. But Emily, of course, is the crazier of the two because she’s less interested in the sanctity of livers and brains and that sort of thing than she is getting even with people that she doesn’t like.

I don’t feel like I’ve read a lot of books that were written during Covid that include it as more than a side note. Yeah, I think that’s true. And it’s tough to do because the whole thing about masks is — I don’t know if you remember this or not, but there was a time in the Nineties when cellphones came in and everybody said, “Well, that’s going to put an end to a lot of tropes in suspense fiction because you can just pick up a phone from your back pocket and call people.”

And when you talk about Covid, you’re talking about people masking their expressions, and it presents its own number of different problems. And there’s always that question of, “Are you going to tap elbows? Are you going to shake hands?” So it presented problems, let’s put it that way. And I tried to do it in such a way that it would not become boring. That’s something that critics and readers are going to discover for themselves and they’ll have their own opinions.

Buy Holly $19.46

I know that there are a lot of people out there on X, or whatever you want to call it, that are convinced that Covid is over and it’s not a going concern anymore. What do you think of that idea? Well, Holly’s mother is a Covid denier, and she dies in the hospital of Covid. And to the very end, she’s saying, “I’ve just got the flu. The flu is what I have.” And I think that it goes back to this is not a new thing. There have been people for years who have just been vaccination deniers who say that if you get a vaccination for a certain kind of thing, you’re going to cause birth defects in your children, this and that. Or if you vaccinate your children, they could have strokes. And you see the same things about the Covid vaccinations.

Jerome and Barbara Robinson — Holly’s co-worker at Finders Keepers, and his sister — play a big role in this book. Do you foresee them getting their own books? Jerome is very important in what I’m writing now. I’m writing another book, and Jerome is involved with this one particularly because in a lot of the early books, Jerome’s job with the Finders Keeper’s Agency has to do with finding lost dogs or kidnapped dogs. So I had a chance to do something in this book with that, and I’m really delighted to see him involved in the book. He’s a cool character.

He really is. I also love your love of dogs that carries throughout your work. How is your dog doing? Molly’s great. She had a tumor removed from her neck this year. She’s getting on in years a little bit, but she’s still cool. And I think that with dogs in particular, they’re so much a part of our lives, and yet they age so much faster than we do that there’s a kind of cycle that we’re able to see with dogs that we don’t see with our friends. Our human friends, I should say.

I love that in your book Fairy Tale — about a young man who finds a portal to another world — the dog gets to be young again when she takes a ride on a magical sundial.   The question that I got a lot of times when people would see the cover of Fairy Tale and they’d read a little bit about it, people would ask me, “I don’t want to read this book if the dog dies. Does the dog die?” And my response to that was always, “You have to read the book to find out.”

You must get a lot of that after Pet Sematary . The cat didn’t get to have quite the same fate. Well, the cat came back. It just wasn’t a very nice cat anymore.

Sadly, I think I would have loved the cat regardless! Anyway, back to Holly : Barbara also gets to explore her talents with poetry quite a bit. I know you’ve written a few over the years. Would you ever delve deeper into that? Well, it’s like songwriting in a way. I love music and I can’t write a song to save my life. And I love poetry, and I love to read it, and I can’t really write very good poetry. There is a little short poem in Holly that I like that I did write, and that has to do with grass. But I would never try to write a book that centered around having to write a lot of poems. I just can’t do it.

Lately, I think that I’ve been sort of stuck on Foghat and Bob Seger, people like that. But I’ve also been listening to a fair amount of country music. So a lot of Travis Tritt and Alan Jackson, people like that. Have you heard this song by the guy? It’s “North of Richmond” or something?

Yes. Oliver Anthony and the “Rich Men North of Richmond.” What are your thoughts on that? I don’t know! I haven’t heard the song yet, but I’ve seen pictures of him. He’s got a beard and he’s got a cool guitar. 

It’s part of a big culture war between the right and the left right now, which is interesting. But I have to ask, I hear you’re a huge fan of “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega? Oh, yeah. Big time. My wife threatened to divorce me. I played that a lot. I had the dance mix. I loved those extended play things, and I played both sides of it. And one of them was just total instrumental. And I played that thing until my wife just said, “One more time, and I’m going to fucking leave you.”

What were you writing at the time? I think probably 11/22/63 . But when I write, there are things that I can listen to a lot. And a lot of it is techno stuff or disco stuff, but techno in particular, there’s this group called LCD Soundsystem, and I love that. Fat Boy Slim is somebody else. I can just listen to that stuff. If you tried to write and listen to Leonard Cohen, how the fuck would you do that? Because you’d have to listen to the words and you’d have to listen to what he’s saying. But with some of the techno stuff, or KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, it’s all good.

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So I read your essay about AI in the Atlantic , which was interesting because it’s so different from a lot of other people’s views on AI. I’m curious how you see it integrating itself into literature. Well, let me just say that I get the worries about AI as it applies to screenwriters and to writers who are involved with writing for TV. Because there’s this fear, I think this is unstated fear, that AI has sort of been writing sitcoms all along and some of the drama series, too, because they’re pretty formulaic. They’re pretty by the numbers. But as far as AI goes and books written by AI, scripts written by AI, what can you do about it? You might as well be King Canute trying to turn back the tide because it’s going to happen.

But I find it very, very difficult to believe that AI — until it achieves real sentience, which is a ways away yet — can write anything. I’ve read poems by AI that were in the style of say, William Blake, and they have the God stuff and the lamb stuff and all this, but it ain’t the same. It ain’t even close. It’s like the difference between Budweiser and some generic beer. So both of them get you a little bit tingly, but it ain’t the same. 

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Stephen King’s ‘Fairy Tale’: A Portal to a Fantasy Kingdom

In King’s latest novel, a teenage boy discovers another world beneath a backyard shed.

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By Matt Bell

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FAIRY TALE, by Stephen King

Stephen King is no stranger to the portal fantasy genre, or to the kinds of young, unwitting protagonists who end up traveling to other worlds. In “The Gunslinger,” the first volume of his epic Dark Tower series, King gave us 11-year-old Jake Chambers, who arrives in Roland of Gilead’s world after dying in ours. In “The Talisman , ” co-written with Peter Straub, 12-year-old Jack Sawyer “flips” between America and the fantastical Territories on a quest to save his mother’s life. Twenty years later, King and Straub sent Jack on another Territories adventure in “Black House,” this time connecting his story to the Dark Tower books and King’s larger multiverse.

Following in Jake and Jack’s footsteps comes Charlie Reade, the 17-year-old hero of King’s latest novel, “Fairy Tale.” A talented athlete, Charlie saves the life of Howard Bowditch, an eccentric recluse who lives alone with his ancient German shepherd, Radar. Inserting himself into Bowditch’s life as a make-do nurse and handyman, Charlie slowly discovers that his neighbor is addicted not just to solitude and secrets (and, eventually, pain pills), but to the treasures of a place called Empis, a kingdom he visits by descending “185 stone steps of varying heights” beneath Bowditch’s locked backyard shed.

It takes many pages and foreshadowings for Charlie to get into that shed, but he finally arrives in Empis with Radar at his side and Bowditch’s .45 revolver on his waist. There Charlie finds a kingdom in dire need, its royal family long ago overthrown by the usurper Flight Killer, who has inflicted a mysterious disfiguring illness called “the gray” upon the populace. Most notable among the sufferers whom Charlie meets on his quest is Leah, a deposed princess whose “storybook loveliness” is marred by her missing mouth, “a knotted white line” ending in “a dime-sized red blemish that looked like a tiny unopened rose.” (How Leah manages a drink provides one of the novel’s most arresting images, a pure jolt of classic King-style body horror.)

There’s plenty of fresh invention in “Fairy Tale,” but much of what Charlie encounters reminds him of something else he’s seen or read. Before he meets Radar, the German shepherd is rumored to be a “monster dog,” “like Cujo in that movie.” Leah evokes for him a similarly named princess in need from a galaxy far, far away. Charlie, aware of the tropes he’s inhabiting, isn’t surprised: “Isn’t ‘Star Wars’ just another fairy tale,” he reasons, “albeit one with excellent special effects?”

King’s portals — like his novels — have always been leaky apertures, prone to cultural exchange and playful cross-contamination. “There are other worlds than these,” Jake Chambers once told Roland of Gilead (a line that appears verbatim in “Fairy Tale”), and in King’s novels all possible worlds, his and those of others, are always playing a game of telephone. Some elements are lifted wholesale from traditional tales like “Rumpelstiltskin” and especially “Jack and the Beanstalk,” which contributes not just the deadly child-eating giant who guards Empis’s palace but the name of the Lovecraftian horror lurking beneath. Other allusions and homages abound, with King sometimes even playfully laying claim to the inventions he’s riffing on, as when Bowditch speculates that Ray Bradbury must’ve visited a particular location in Empis’s capital before writing “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” (As far as I can tell, King always gives credit where it’s due, sometimes subtly, sometimes not.)

So “Fairy Tale” is a multiverse-traversing, genre-hopping intertextual mash-up, with plenty of Easter eggs for regular King devotees. Thankfully, it’s also a solid episodic adventure, a page-turner driven by memorably strange encounters and well-rendered, often thrilling action. The best (and longest) of the novel’s set pieces depicts Charlie’s forced participation in the Fair One, a gladiatorial contest organized to entertain Flight Killer and his sycophantic court. In the Fair One, it’s kill or be killed, and surviving it takes all of Charlie’s wits, charisma and athleticism — as well as a risky indulgence in his hot temper and his talent for violence. “There’s a dark well in everyone, I think,” Charlie realizes, “and it never goes dry. But you drink from it at your peril. That water is poison.”

At 17, Charlie’s seen the lingering effects of these dark wells on his father, a recovering alcoholic, and the isolated Mr. Bowditch and even on Flight Killer, the root of all Empis’s problems; by the novel’s end, Charlie will need to learn to live with what he’s sipped from his own. After all, goodness isn’t something you are, even if you’re the chosen prince who has come to save a kingdom: Goodness is something you do , and Charlie Reade is always trying his best.

Despite the plot’s twists and turns, the biggest surprise “Fairy Tale” has to offer King’s so-called Constant Readers might be the book’s promise of a happy ending. At one point, Charlie warns us these require “something unlikely,” narrative tricks made “palatable to readers who wanted a happy ending even if the teller had to pull one out of his hat.” But I’ll bet many readers hungry for a genuinely feel-good adventure won’t care what tactics King uses to deliver the goods: These days, some of us will take all the happy endings we can get, however unlikely they seem.

Matt Bell is the author most recently of “Appleseed” and “Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts.”

FAIRY TALE | By Stephen King | 599 pp. | Scribner | $32.50

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