14 December 2012

The Mist, by Stephen King

When in doubt, just read Stephen King.

So goes my mantra in 2012, and will continue on through next year and for many more to come. If I'm left conflicted between which of two books I want to read, I invariably drop both and end up going for Stephen King. Even with ones delivering a bizarre and unintentionally funny plot (*coughcough* The Tommyknockers), I usually always find something in it that ultimately leaves me happy and thrilled I read it. With this short story, I was extremely happy I settled into this for a rainy, cold evening in Virginia Beach.

A quick read at 230 pages, The Mist was originally published as part of an anthology of short stories included in the release of Dark Forces in 1980. It was released a few years ago as a novella and I guess now I'll have to rent the movie. (Although I will not hold my breath for it, King movies notoriously are poorly executed.)

David Drayton, his wife and young son live on Long Lake in Maine. After a particularly frightening series of storms one summer night forcing them to seek cover in their basement, the next morning unveils the beginning of an unnamed sense of dread. When David sees a weird mist of fog across the lake, quiet fear settles in. He heads to the store with his son and neighbor, and the mist moves even further, trapping the shop's customers in. It's here in this tiny supermarket, somewhere in Maine, that the battle for survival begins.

I marvel at King's ability to build tension.  It actually reminded me of the first part of The Stand and I was completely freaked out by the unknown constantly squawked to myself over and over "what is in the mist? Please, someone tell me, what the heck is that, oh my gawd, what is that??" and the subsequent breakdown of a group of people exiled from everything and other humans, a la Lord of the Flies. And while I was disappointed with one choice David made, he was otherwise a likable character.

The Mist hit the mark yet again for me; a great Stephen King tale to while away the time and scare the stuffing out of you. Diving once more into fear of the unknown, King doesn't meander into side stories much as it's confined to a shorter length, but don't expect for it to be tied up into one nice and neat little bow at the end, which even the main character points out. Instead, you can anticipate another solid story by the master of fear to keep you up late, late into the night.

The only thing missing? Stephen King's introduction or afterword of some sort. I have gotten used to reading his insights into the development of a story, most especially his self-deprecating humor, and I was looking forward to it.

Passage of Note
You know what talent is? The curse of expectation. As a kid you have to deal with that, beat it somehow. If you can write, you think God put you on earth to blow Shakespeare away. Or, if you can paint, maybe you think - I did - that God put you on earth to blow your father away.
Others said:

Publisher: Signet, a division of Penguin
Release Date: My copy is 2007, originally 1980
Pages: 230

FTC Disclosure: I purchased this from my local independent bookstore.

About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The Stand, The Dark Tower series, It, The Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know. So here you go, click here to visit this wicked cool author's official website.

The Stephen King Project. My education (and others') continues. The Mist is another selection for the challenge Kathleen and I are hosting. The site can be found (with other participants' reviews) here.


  1. Now I know I want to read Stephen King someday soon. I just read one of his books and I never read any more again. I saw the movie 1408 - which freaks me out even now.
    This sounds every bit scary as 1408. Adding this to my TBR.

  2. I've only read some King books and I've loved them all. After reading this post, I think I want to read some more. The Mist is one that I have not read, but I did watch the film version of it during this past Halloween. It was goodish up to a point and then it fell apart. Sounds like the novella is much better - as I would have expected it to be.

  3. It has been many a year since I've read Stephen King, but the memories of many positive, edge-of-your-seat reading experiences give me the confidence to agree with you that he is a good go-to author. I especially remember many nights in high school when I would lay in bed reading a King book, doing my best to let myself get freaked out so that I could enjoy the experience even more.

  4. I love this book and actually started re-reading it a few days ago to write my own review of it. Hopefully the film won't disappoint you too much. It's directed by Frank Darabont who is, in my opinion, the only person who is genuinely able to deliver the goods on King film adaptations. I enjoyed your review.

  5. Just FYI, that gif sounds like heaven. I love Stephen King!!! I haven't read The Mist, though!

  6. Great review! I read this as a short story long ago, but I'd like to do a re-read with the novella. (And you're right, the movie doesn't do it justice.)

  7. Terrific review. Stephen King is just not for me. Been there, tried that, walked away!
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  8. I haven't read The Mist but I did see the movie. I wouldn't recommend it. I agree that King's novel don't always translate well on film. I need to put The Mist on my list for next year though. My library has a huge King selection which makes me a very happy library patron. :)

  9. It's always good to have a go-to author. Glad you enjoyed another of his stories :)