Saturday, 21 January 2017

Book Review: Night Shift by Stephen King

Night Shift was Stephen King's first short story collection, released way back in 1978 and it contains quite a lot of his more popular short stories that ended up becoming movies. The prime examples being Children of the Corn and Sometimes They Come Back.

“The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”

King is often hailed as the master of the short story. Prior to this collection I had only read Nightmares & Dreamscapes and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and I did really enjoy them, but found it odd when people would comment things like "Oh it was good, but it was disappointing compared to earlier ones". Well, now I get it, guys! Now I get it. You can quite literally feel King's hunger for story-telling throughout the entirety of this collection and given these stories were written at the very start of his career, the material is all so fresh with absolutely amazing, outrageous ideas.

I feel like I should reveal that I am not a huge fan of short stories. I want to get lost in a story with the continuing development of a story and its characters. I want to get to know my main characters inside out, back to front. I want to spend days/weeks thinking about the story and the characters and where it's all going, with the anticipation of getting into bed each night to see what happens next. You don't get this with short stories - they're short, that's their nature. You often don't get to find out what happens or why...there's cliffhangers that are never explored again. There isn't that same pull to keep reading and it can take me longer than usual to get through a short story collection. However, Night Shift has completely changed my perspective on short story collections. I WAS thinking about the book all day, but instead wondering what crazy story King has coming next. I DID have the same urge to keep reading. Some characters were memorable, even though I only got to know them for 30 pages or so. This collection was simply out of this world.

I almost don't know where to start reviewing this book, but I guess I can start with my absolute favourites in the collection. I can quite honestly say that there was not a bad story in this entire collection, but the much-anticipated Children of the Corn was as impressive as I imagined and is probably the greatest highlight for me. It was creepy and unsettling and even more terrifying than I could have predicted! Sometimes They Come Back was also a great story, alongside I Am The Doorway, The Mangler, Grey Matter, The Lawnmower Man...okay, I think I'm actually starting to list every single story in the book.

The Last Rung on the Ladder was also surprisingly emotional and almost brought a tear to the eye. Only King could evoke such a reaction in such a short story. I had previously read One for the Road as it was included in my edition of 'Salem's Lot, but it was great to read this story again. The only problem makes me want to revisit 'Salem's Lot!!

Some stories were downright hilarious and just a joy to read, such as Battleground and The Ledge. It's difficult to even pinpoint my least favourite, but if I absolutely had to chose, I'd probably pick The Man Who Loved Flowers - but even then, I really enjoyed this story. It's unusual to not be able to find a flaw in a short story collection, but I've tried and I literally can't.

Night Shift is trying very hard to squeeze into my top 5 King books and I might have to just let it, but which book gets the boot? Gah! Why is life so difficult?!!



  1. I loved revisiting this collection through your review, Jo! xox

  2. I finally got around procrastinating and checked your blog out on my computer. I love it. I love Stephen King oh so much and it pleases me to see other Constant Readers. Keep on keeping on Johann!

  3. "Night Shift" was my very first introduction to Stephen King! There was a paperback copy of this short story collection in the beach house that my mom's side of the family used to own, and I vividly remember taking it off the bookcase and reading it one summer when I was younger. I think King's short stories are some of his best work! I'm glad that he's been able to change your mind on the short story form.


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