Review – Stephen King: “1922”

By -
  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Gallery Books
  • Release Date: May, 2011
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

When it comes to Stephen King, many say that the man can write no wrong. However, I have found many of his “short” stories to be more enjoyable than his epic tomes he calls a novel length tale. “1922” is the first story of five in the Full Dark, No Stars compilation book, and given that this is meant to be a collection of really dark material, it was something that couldn’t be passed up. But, does this tale really satiate the hunger for a quality, if not brief, psychological thriller?

As the tale starts out, we’re immediately addressed in a traditional letter fashion. The date of composition being April 11th, 1930 at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. The writer introduces himself as Wilfred Leland James, who is the husband to his now murdered Arlette Christina Winters James. The entire story is told through a first person perspective, but in the character’s own words from what he experienced from 1922 and on. The letter itself becomes pretty descriptive to outline the dire circumstances in which he had to kill her over farmland.

There’s a good deal of character development throughout the book, introducing Wilfred’s neighbors as important characters to the story through their daughter, Shannon Cotterie, who becomes the love interest of Wilfred and Arlette’s son, Henry. Arlette has grown tired of the country farming lifestyle, and is considering selling her endowed three hundred acres of land to a growing butchery company for a lump sum of money in order to move out of Hemingford Home, Nebraska, and back home with family to the big city of Omaha. Wilfred refuses to let her sell the land, asserting that he is entitled to the land her father left her. The growing tension pushes him too far, causing him to manipulate Henry into committing murder with him.

But, Arlette is not really painted as an innocent flower, especially when she’s drunk. Her vulgar language and insinuations towards Henry and his girlfriend, Shannon, are really what drive him to aid his father. From here, it becomes a largely psychological endurance test for the two. Henry quickly grows distant to everyone, including Shannon, and takes on the name Hank instead. Shannon winds up maturing with him, which introduces an issue of pregnancy between the two, causing the Correries to ship her off to a missionary in town despite her intellectual capabilities that would have made her the first female to graduate from the school she was attending, and perhaps make something of her life more than a simple house wife.

Eventually the story grows darker, utilizing the rats who feast on Arlette’s flesh more as her minions, all in a plot against Wilfred and Henry, who is growing more disturbed by what has happened, and impatient for Shannon’s return. These creatures attack Wilfred, as well as his livestock, including the most faithful of cows who can no longer give milk, making her a simple pet. Luck grows worse as Henry runs off to be with Shannon, quickly turning to a life of crime to be with the woman he loves, as well as the rats grows more and more despite being trapped in the well with the body of Arlette and the snood that she wore. Once in a while a representative from the butcher company would stop by, wondering on Arlette’s disappearance, as well as Sheriff Jones who is handling the case, as well as bringing news of his son and Shannon, and what happens to them by the end of the story, all leading to a conclusion of those lost during this sending rats to end his life, as well as themselves in the form of a newspaper article.

“1922” is a genuinely intriguing and well written story. The conclusion could easily have gone on a little longer and incorporated more detail like every other aspect. The utilization of the dead with the rats also felt pointless, and leaving it solely to the vermin would have been a lot creepier. Instead, the summarization of the years leading up to the hotel room in 1930 end up feeling rushed, as if the author just didn’t want to be bothered with it, or had to meet a deadline. But, in the end, there’s never too dull a moment, the story progresses well, there’s enough details for most of it make you feel for the characters and the situations they face, and the character development does hope for the best for everyone involved. If you have yet to read this story, it’s one that is well worth checking out. It isn’t a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but one hundred twenty eight pages, you’ll be invested as much as you could be.

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.