* One of America’s most prolific authors
* Practically invented the modern horror genre
* See the extent of King’s work, from soaring epic to hardboiled detective fiction
Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series of books is considered one of the masterpieces of American fantasy literature. It took him over twenty years to write the books, and King is thought of as a “fast” writer.
However, as we’ve seen with George RR Martin and others, epic fantasy is, shall we say, not a speedy genre. The stories of King Arthur took hundreds of years to come together, though, so we suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on these guys.
In 2017, the “Dark Tower” finally made it to the big screen in a film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Meantime, King’s novel, “It,” was remade into a film and promptly debuted at number one at the box office, with a whopping $117 million opening weekend. It’s one of the best fall openings of all-time, proving that when it comes to horror, Stephen King is still, well, king.
For those who’ve made the journey all the way from 1982’s The Gunslinger and are craving more of Stephen King’s unique, expansive and darkly surreal universe, don’t worry, there’s plenty more. Here are 13 of the best Stephen King books for “Dark Tower” and “It” fans.
1. The Green Mile
This story of a man gifted with incredible empathic and healing powers locked on death row is one of King’s most nuanced books of the supernatural. Here we see King’s mastery of the form, using science fictional elements to explore very real aspects of human society.
2. Salem’s Lot
“Salem’s Lot,” Stephen King’s second novel, is a classic of small town horror. One of the most iconic books in its genre, it practically invented the tropes of what would become the horror genre in film.
3. Bag of Bones
“Bag of Bones” is a haunting thriller set in an isolated lake house. Like many of King’s most iconic novels, it uses the framing of a lonely, struggling writer as the starting point of an eerie, supernatural journey.
4. Lisey’s Story
Hailed as a breathtaking mixture of romance and horror, “Lisey’s Story” is inspired by the real-life trauma that befell King when he was hit by a speeding van in 1999.
“Misery,” adapted into an acclaimed film in 1990, is a great example of all the things Stephen King’s work is known for. In it, the recurrent themes of isolation, claustrophobia and escalating insanity appear in their most sharpened forms.
6. Pet Sematary
“Pet Sematary,” a #1 bestseller, shows Stephen King as a master of the unconscious. Like no other contemporary author, here King takes childhood symbols of the unknown and forges something as terrifying as the discovery of death itself.
Made into the iconic 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek, “Carrie” was the first of Stephen King’s novels to be published and adapted for the big screen. It’s often credited with launching the author’s career. A 2013 remake stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.
8. Mr. Mercedes
“Mr. Mercedes” was originally planned to be a small short story, but has since evolved into the genesis of a new trilogy. The first book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, this novel showcases King’s versatility, deftly adding elements of Hardboiled Detective fiction and recalling the aesthetic of film noir.
Called King’s most mature work, “It” has been adapted for film in 2017. The story begins with a familiar horror set up: a group of preteen friends who have to face a monster, but then, “It” adds the complexities of adulthood, framing the action as a return to the site of childhood trauma some 28-years later. Like Stranger Things, It locates the essence of horror as a function of the way we construct childhood and innocence.
10. The Shining
“The Shining” may be one of Stephen King’s most famous novels, thanks to the classic film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. The tale of a mentally-unraveling writer who takes his family to a remote chateau, it gives us chills to this day.
In “11.22.63,” King takes us on a time-traveling thrill ride that stands out for the way it makes the grand shifts of its plot hinge on mundane details. A dense yet fast read, it’s both an examination of American culture at the peak of its power and a meditation on hubris and loss. The title refers to the date JFK was shot.
12. The Stand
Now restored in its entirety, the uncut version of this eerie post-apocalyptic thriller from 1978 remains shockingly relevant today. It presents a haunting vision of a world changed utterly by the most seemingly-casual of errors.
13. The Mist
“The Mist” is one of Stephen King’s most renowned masterworks of horror. Elemental and claustrophobic, “The Mist” is a portrait of fear itself.
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