The symbolism depicted in this novel is familiar to all of us. Just like The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, we all have a dark half that we try to keep buried. In this book, the dark half will not stay buried of course.
It is a story about an author who uses a pseudonym to write a different genre of novel, just as King did, but the pen-name takes on a life of his own.
The novel is full of suspense as well as violence, murder and horror, but ultimately it is a tale about facing one's own demons. It is how I imagine anger, fear and frustration to be if they were personified, and in this book they do exactly that. In effect, this is an allegory. Just as in Jekyll and Hyde, two opposite forms contrast, blur and amalgamate - family and solitary, light and dark, fact and fiction, alive and dead.
As in all of King's books, the characters are well fleshed out and we see the writer not as some kind of romantic creative sort but as a man who writes for a living. The writing process in all its mundane formats particularly appeals to me. Such a great insight and reminder that writing actually is not glamorous at all.
This is a visceral, gripping story told with such insight we know that this is about King himself. Often jagged and uneven, The Dark Half is not classed as one of his greatest works: even so, it is one of my favourite Stephen King novels probably because of that. Dark fiction in every sense.
Other books by Stephen King: Pet Sematary, Mr Mercedes
Originally published: 20 October 1989
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