Trevor Kennedy today broadcast my review of Stephen King's novel, Later on Big Hits Radio UK. For those who missed it this is my review:
LATER by Stephen KingTitan Books, Hard Case Crime Novels, 2021
Stephen King is never afraid of picking up a previously used trope and adapting it. In fact, he openly references the most obvious comparison to this particular trope, The Sixth Sense. Both that and Later revolve around a boy who can “see dead people.” Not only that, but whenever Jamie Conklin, who narrates Later in the first person, asks them questions they have to give him honest answers.
Of course, being a Stephen King novel things don’t pan out well and we soon discover there are horrors out there which can make use of the recently deceased, something which Jamie finds out to his cost.
I must admit I didn’t find this Stephen King book as engaging as I normally do, possibly because it is written in the first person and maybe, too, because he tries to make it read like something a non-literary person would write. But it does move at a cracking pace and there are certainly some unexpected twists and turns along the way. And at around 230 pages it is one of his shortest novels.
Unusually, I didn’t find that the villainous characters, including Jamie’s mother’s one time girlfriend, the corrupt cop Liz Dutton, or the serial killer Kenneth Therriault, known as The Thumper, came over as vividly as they usually do in King’s novels. Perhaps the naïve first-person narrative prevented this, as we only see things from Jamie Conklin’s juvenile perspective.
Nevertheless, for all of this the book is far from boring, and despite being published as a “hard case crime” novel is replete with supernatural horrors – more than enough to satisfy all but the most jaded of King’s fans.
Trevor Kennedy publishes the fabulous magazine Phantasmagoria.