Hidden Gems: Stephen King’s lesser known novels

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Stephen King is well known for his horror novels, and there are a certain number of his novels which have true classic status. It, Carrie, The Green Mile, and The Shining are all well known as both novels and their film adaptations. However, these are just a few of the novels produced throughout King’s prolific writing career – he has published an astonishing number of books, 55 novels and counting, not counting his short stories and nonfiction works. As part of The Edge‘s continued ‘KingFest’, celebrating the author’s best works at Halloween, Rebecca James collects together just a select few of King’s lesser known works.

Firestarter

Firestarter was published in 1980, and is one of King’s earlier published works. It follows the story of Andy McGee and his daughter Charlie, who are on the run from a covert government agency, known in the novel as ‘The Shop’. They are fugitives because Charlie’s mother and Andy participated in an experimental drug program which left them both with paranormal activities, and Charlie was then born with terrifying pyrokinetic abilities.

Firestarter is a compelling in part because of the fugitive narrative and the intrigue of the covert agency, and in part because of the way that the narrative is revealed to the audience. King uses flashbacks to slowly reveal the backstory of the novel, placing it alongside the current events throughout. The depth of the relationship between Andy and Charlie also forms the centre of the novel, but in typical King fashion Firestarter doesn’t shy away from any extreme. The full potential of Charlie’s fire powers and their destructive nature is front facing throughout.

Needful Things

Needful Things was published in 1991, and is notable as King’s first published novel after he received treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. This trend can been seen through the novel, as desire comes to the forefront of Needful Things. The book features a particular shop which seems to always stock exactly what people want, for a very reasonable price. But these good prices also come with a string attached – the buyer has to perform a seemingly innocent prank on someone who lives in this very peculiar town.

What follows is a devolution of the relationships within the town, as the owner of Needful Things, Leland Gaunt, seems to know exactly what buttons to push to cause chaos in the town. What makes this novel particularly worth searching out is the exploration of what we value, why we value them, and how underneath the surface any human can hide all manner of depraved secret.

Cell 

Cell is one of King’s more recent novels, having been published in 2004. In it, King takes on a very modern phenomena – the mobile phone. After a mysterious signal is broadcast on the mobile phone network, anyone who has a phone is transformed into a zombie like character, leaving those without them attempting to fend off the hordes (which you could imagine would be a far smaller number in 2016!). The novel centres on Clayton Riddell, as he attempts to reconnect with his young son.

King’s novel turns the wonders of modern technology as the impetus for the action of the plot, which sees the zombies, or ‘phoners’ as they are dubbed by the novel, gain increasing psychic powers. This leads to some of Cell’s most horrific moments, as people are forced to act against their will in increasingly terrifying ways.

These are just a few of Stephen King’s works – you can find more information about his works here.

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Studying for my PhD focusing on Eighteenth Century Pirate Literature. Writer 2011-2013, Culture Editor 2013-2014, Editor 2014-2015, Culture Exec 2015-2016, Writer 2016-2017. Longest serving Edgeling ever is a title I intend to hold forever.

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