Needful Things by Stephen King

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With a demonic blend of malice and affection, Stephen King says goodbye to the town he put on the map -- Castle Rock, Maine . . . where Polly Chalmers runs You Sew and Sew and Sheriff Alan Pangborn is in charge of keeping the peace. It's a small town, and Stephen King fans might think they know its secrets pretty well; they've been here before.

Leland Gaunt is a stranger -- and he calls his shop Needful Things. Eleven-year-old Brain Rusk is his first customer, and Brian finds just what he wants most in all the world; a '56 Sandy Koufax baseball card. By the end of the week, Mr. Gaunt's business is fairly booming, and why not? At Needful Things, there's something for everyone.

And, of course, there is always a price. For Leland Gaunt, the pleasure of doing business lies chiefly in seeing how much people will pay for their most secret dreams and desires. And as Leland Gaunt always points out, at Needful Things, the prices are high indeed. Does that stop people from buying? Has it ever?

For Alan and Polly, this one week in autumn will be an awful test -- a test of will, desire, and pain. Above all, it will be a test of their ability to grasp the true nature of their enemy. They may have a chance . . . But maybe not, because, as Mr. Gaunt knows, almost everything is for sale: love, hope, even the human soul.

With the potent storytelling authority that millions of readers have come to prize, Stephen King delivers an Out Town with a vengeance, an inimitable farewell to a place his fiction has often and long called home.

“Everyone loves something for nothing...even if it costs everything.”

King has tried to say goodbye to Castle Rock on several occasions, but we aren’t always ready to let a good thing go. Hey, I’m still not, this town is almost as fun as Derry (but not quite!), so being in the town again with its character references was thrilling enough. A nod to the underappreciated Cujo was especially liked, but there’s also some mentions of stories from The Dark Half, The Body, Sun Dog, and probably a few more buried memories in the town.

Layered and complicated, creative and well-rounded characters, well-written with a wicked ending -- one of King's better books, but it suffered from too-long-itis. It would have been a much better story if a few hundred pages were trimmed for my impatient mind. The first three hundred pages and the ending were the strongest. The book starts slowly but somehow stays gripping despite the inching plot, I think it’s the middle that started wearing me out, mainly due to such a huge rush of head-hopping that it becomes tedious and somewhat confusing.

Leland Gaunt has become a well-liked King character despite whether you enjoy the movie or the book. I didn’t find him particularly special compared to some of the other villains he’s created, but he works well for the story. The sudden shifts of an almost cheesy nature work well with the underlying comedic tone that sometimes hits the book, which the movie ended up playing up. He did come across a little more flat and character-cheesy in the end of it all, but I have to admit there’s a certain sense of style with his ride and his style.

It’s always a delight to see the Sheriff again. He’s one of my favorites of King’s characters.

I'm happy I read it, but it wasn't a perfect sale.

Book Quotes

“Not everybody believes in ghosts, but I do. Do you know what they are, Trisha?

She had shaken her head slowly.

Men and women who can't get over their past . . . That's what ghosts are.”

Cover Gallery