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The Dark Half by Stephen King
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The Dark Half (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Stephen King

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,77444735 (3.55)88
Member:karenwodke
Title:The Dark Half
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1990), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:horror

Work details

The Dark Half by Stephen King (1989)

  1. 30
    Dead City by Shane Stevens (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: In his afterward to The Dark Half, King explains that he took the character of Alexis Machine from Stevens' Dead City
  2. 10
    A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell (Othemts)
  3. 10
    The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz (VictoriaPL)
    VictoriaPL: Another writer who has trouble figuring out if he's involved in a series of murders or not.
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English (41)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All (44)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
A late-80s Stephen King novel about an author whose pseudonymous alter-ego/absorbed-in-the-womb evil twin comes to life and goes on a brutal rampage right out of one of his own crime thrillers.

It's a really great premise for a horror novel, and one that hints at some intriguing themes of identity, creativity, and the dark side that may be hidden in good people. Mind you, King doesn't really go into any of those themes in any depth, but I think they're lurking in there, anyway, under all the supernatural weirdness and the gore. Mostly it doesn't tingle the spine the way the best of his stuff does, but the prologue does contain what may be one of the creepiest images he's even written, so I have to give it some points for that. And, as is usual for King, it's a very readable book.

On the other hand, while I was more than happy to accept its bizarre-but-fascinating premise, other aspects of it did stretch my suspension of disbelief, including a sheriff getting ridiculously chummy with a guy who's a suspect in his murder investigation, and a whole lot of thoroughly unconvincing dialog. And while, at about 430 pages, this is downright slim compared to some of King's later work, it does drag some in the middle in a way that makes me think it could have been cut down by 50 or even 100 pages and been the better for it. Plus, the resolution is... odd. It's well built-up-to throughout the novel, which is more than you can say for some of King's endings, but it's still odd.

Basically, this is middle-of-the-road King. Definitely not his best, definitely not his worst. ( )
  bragan | Oct 28, 2016 |
One of his only clunkers, in my opinion. ( )
  Laura_Drake | Aug 19, 2016 |
Thad Beaumont, decides it's time he puts a rest to his pen name "George Stark." In a strange series of events, you find out that George Stark has come to life. The story alternates between George's view and Thad's view throughout their struggle to destroy each other.

This is a scary book - a book with real depth. King, as usual, writes in criminal ease and keeps his reader hooked to the end. I highly recommend it as one of King's most thought-provoking novels. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Overlong, in the end. ( )
  scarequotes | Jan 23, 2016 |
So, a murderous pseudonym is on the loose, armed with a ludicrous premise. There's none of the exploration of identity that the premise is so ripe for... and the structure is flawed; you know from the word go that Stark is the pseudonym, robbing the story of any suspense. A dangerous maniac might be scary, but a supernatural monster? Gimme a break. Also, you know what was found in Thad's head so the big reveal with the surgeon later on is robbed of it's shock value. Admittedly, it is mindless fun and can be enjoyed and forgotten on that level but could have been so much better. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"Cut him," Machine said, "Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice."

-- Machine's Way

by George Stark
Dedication
This book is for Shirley Sonderegger, who helps me mind my business, and for her husband, Peter.
AUTHOR'S NOTE I'm indebted to the late Richard Bachman for his help and inspiration. This novel cound not have been written without him. S.K.
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People's lives -- their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences -- begin at different times.
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Book description
Thad Beaumont would like to say he is innocent. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the voice on the phone uttering its obscene threats and demanding total surrender. But how can Thad disown the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it - and signs its crimes with Thad's bloody fingerprints? (0-451-16731-7)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451167317, Mass Market Paperback)

In 1985, 39-year-old Stephen King announced in public that his pseudonymous alter ego, Richard Bachman, was dead. (Never mind that he revived him years later to write The Regulators.) At the beginning of The Dark Half (1989), 39-year-old writer Thad Beaumont announces in public that his own pseudonym, George Stark, is dead.

Now, King didn't want to jettison the Bachman novel, titled Machine Dreams, that was he working on. So he incorporated it in The Dark Half as the crime oeuvre of George Stark, whose recurring hero/alter ego is an evil character named Alexis Machine.

Thad Beaumont's pseudonym is not so docile as Stephen King's, though, and George Stark bursts forth into reality. At that point, two stories kick into gear: a mystery-detective story about the crime spree of George Stark (or is it Alexis Machine?) and a horror story about Beaumont's struggle to catch up with his doppelganger and kill him dead.

This is not the first time that Stephen King has written a dark allegory about the fiction writer's situation. As the New York Times writes, "Misery (1987) is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his audience, which holds him prisoner and dictates what he writes, on pain of death. The Dark Half is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his creative genius, the vampire within him, the part of him that only awakes to raise Cain when he writes, the fratricidal twin who occupies 'the womblike dungeon' of his imagination." --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Thad Beaumont, a writer of brutally violent novels, becomes a murder suspect when his pseudonym is linked to the killings.

(summary from another edition)

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