Review: “The Mist” by Stephen King

This is what happened. On the night that the worst heat wave in northern New England history finally broke – the night of July 19 – the entire western Maine region was lashed with the most vicious thunderstorms I have ever seen.

The Mist, Chapter 1 opening

Author: Stephen King
Publication Date:  1980
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Horror
Format: Paperback
Find it on: Goodreads

Synopsis

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King’s terrifying novella about a town engulfed in a dense, mysterious mist as humanity makes its last stand against unholy destruction—originally published in the acclaimed short story collection Skeleton Crew and made into a TV series, as well as a feature film starring Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden.

In the wake of a summer storm, terror descends…David Drayton, his son Billy, and their neighbor Brent Norton join dozens of others and head to the local grocery store to replenish supplies following a freak storm. Once there, they become trapped by a strange mist that has enveloped the town. As the confinement takes its toll on their nerves, a religious zealot, Mrs. Carmody, begins to play on their fears to convince them that this is God’s vengeance for their sins. She insists a sacrifice must be made and two groups—those for and those against—are aligned. Clearly, staying in the store may prove fatal, and the Draytons, along with store employee Ollie Weeks, Amanda Dumfries, Irene Reppler, and Dan Miller, attempt to make their escape. But what’s out there may be worse than what they left behind.

This exhilarating novella explores the horror in both the enemy you know—and the one you can only imagine.

From Goodreads

Review

The Mist is a tantalizing sci-fi horror novella by Stephen King. Set in coastal Maine we follow main character David and witness a tranquil town abruptly terrorized by a bizarre mist that creeps in after an unusually brutal storm. The mist is home to death in a variety of forms, possibly escaped from a nearby suspected government facility. It’s a shorter read so the summary on Goodreads covers a decent chunk of it. This will be a briefer review so as to dodge any spoilers. 🙂

Off the bat in the first few pages this book did start to show its age in the form of older gener stereotypes. David is introduced as a strong guy, firm and unshakeable. He chugs beer like water (which his son dutifully fetches for him) and is a guiding hand to his partner Steffy. She becomes frantic and scared during the storm, and is vulnerable to sway from local gossip. It’s a traditional portrayal of masculine strength versus weaker female constitution and the feminine message is a bit demoralizing, especially as a modern reader. Later a sex scene is introduced unexpectedly (and IMO unrealistically given context), which just compounds the issue in my mind.

I also found the end somewhat unsatisfying – without saying too much it feels as if King abandons you in a world with minimal story closure. However I’ll allow this could be strategic. One could imagine that sort of ending lets the feelings of unease and terror linger longer in the mind and may be a tactical choice on King’s part.

With those negatives out of the way, I want to say on whole I did really enjoy The Mist. King keeps it moving so there’s always something interesting brewing, and the various creatures of the mist were interesting nightmare fuel 🙃. In the end King delivered exactly what I was looking for – a quick and engaging dark tale. I’d definitely recommend this, to anyone searching for a shorter horror read.

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Background cover photo by Maksim ŠiŠlo on Unsplash

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