Book review: Night Shift by Stephen King

Book review: Night Shift by Stephen King

Night Shift is a collection of twenty short horror stories written by Stephen King published in 1978.

Prolific author Stephen King is primarily known for his best-selling horror novels such as The Stand, Misery and It, but his career began with the publication of several short stories throughout the 1960s and ’70s in men’s magazines. Following the success of Carrie and The Shining, these early stories were brought together in Night Shift – King’s first and most recognisable short story collection.

Put simply, Night Shift is a must-read for horror fans and those familiar with King’s novels will take pleasure in recognising several of the locations and story lines found within the collection. Stories connected to ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand feature prominently, while horror film aficionados can feast upon the original source material from which the Children of the Corn franchise is founded.

There is a wide variety of story-telling in Night Shift; from the spooky and supernatural “I Know What You Need” and “The Boogeyman”, to the deranged yet plausible psychological thrillers “Strawberry Spring” and “Quitters, Inc.”. Of course, a horror saga would not be complete without tales of possession, and King does not disappoint with “The Mangler” and “Trucks”, offering bizarre stories of man-made technology gone mad.

There are two stories in the collection which seem out of place, which is odd because both are original stories written specifically for Night Shift. “The Last Rung on the Ladder” deals with the pain associated with the suicide of a family member, while the final story, “The Woman in the Room” follows the hardships of a man coming to terms with the imminent death of his terminally ill mother. Both stories pack an emotional punch but simply do not fit the over-arching horror them of the book.

Night Shift is among King’s best work and provides a great reminder of how masterful he is in the art of short story telling. Parts of the collection were written over fifty years go and remain as effective today as they were when first published. This is the ideal book to read over these dark winter nights and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Review overview
Night Shift
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