Title: Nightmares & Dreamscapes
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror, supernatural
Where I got the book: I purchased this book through Bokkilden.
My rating: ★★★★☆
Summary: A solitary human finger pokes out of the drain in a bathroom sink. Famous dead musicians inhabit a seemingly idyllic small town. A London suburb is crawling with monsters. This collection is a multi-layered nightmare world consisting of 24 short stories.
“I can only speak from my own experience, of course, but for me, the imagination which so often kept me awake and in terror as a child has seen me through some terrible bouts of stark raving reality as an adult.”
– Introduction of Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Stephen King
This is (only) the fourth Stephen King short story collection that I’ve read so far, and I have to say that Skeleton Crew still stands as my absolute favorite. This is thanks to some seriously brilliant and memorable stories – such as “The Jaunt” (probably my favorite King short ever, like, if you think about it too much it just completely messes with your head), “Word Processor of the Gods”, “The Mist”, “The Raft”, “The Monkey”, “Gramma”, and more. So if I were to recommend a King collection at this point, it would most definitely be “Skeleton Crew”.
But, there are many great stories in “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” as well! This collection is just another example of the vast and, frankly, terrifying universe that is Stephen King’s imagination. It offers a handful of seriously disturbing events and the best thing about this is that they are disturbing in different ways – some are just downright creepy while others offer food for thought and really make you wonder. I love that kind of variety in a short story collection, especially when it’s in the horror-genre because there are so many ways to write it. It doesn’t have to be in-your-face gore and monsters. Sometimes the subtle, barely noticeable change or the little twist at the very end of an increasingly unsettling story is enough to frighten you and I think King does the “creeps up on you” kind of horror extremely well.
My favorites in this collection were “The End of the Whole Mess”, “Chattery Teeth”, “The Moving Finger”, “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band”, “Crouch End”, “Sorry, Right Number”, and “The House on Maple Street”. These are all very different from each other and among them they share some unpredictable things that I really enjoyed reading about – ranging from the apocalyptic, almost philosophical kind of horror, to disturbing Lovecraftian-inspired horror, to horror added a little bit of sci-fi.
However, there are also some rather forgettable stories included in this, and – not surprisingly maybe – these were the less scary, less supernatural/mysterious ones. I personally could have done without the baseball story, “Head Down”. It’s the only non-fiction piece of the collection too, and as someone who doesn’t have the slightest interest in and a very limited knowledge of baseball, I have to admit I largely skimmed this. I think I got the point but the whole time I was checking to see how many pages were left (and sadly this was one of the lengthier stories of the bunch). I also didn’t find it to be written in a way that made it interesting for others than those who are fans of the sport. Other stories I didn’t care much for were “The Night Flier”, “It Grows on You”, “My Pretty Pony”, and “The Fifth Quarter”. Though these were also very different stories, they just weren’t engaging or complex enough to remain memorable for me.
But all in all, I really enjoyed this collection! It’s 900+ pages long and I think I read it next to three other books but honestly I just breezed through it. Like I said there’s a great variety in this and I’m sure there’s something in here to captivate all horror-fans, whether they are familiar with Stephen King’s work or not.