I’ve had a long history with Stephen King’s books. When I was twelve, I read my first King book (It, I chose it because it had a monster hand coming out of a sewer grate) and I wasn’t able to finish it for six months because it scared the shit out of me.
I’ve read (pretty much) everything he’s written since then, so keep that in mind when I say that Full Dark, No Stars is one of the grimmer books he’s written.
As he says in the afterword, the stories are all about people in difficult and trying circumstances and what they have to do to get out of them. There are four novellas, starting with “1922” which opens with a farmer confessing to the murder of his wife and what happens to him and his after the crime’s been committed. The cheerfulness factor maintains at about that level throughout. “Big Driver” is a revenge story, “A Fair Extension” is about a deal with the devil, and “A Good Marriage” asks how well you can truly know the person you’re married to.
And it’s a grimness that I could dig. Both “1922” and “Big Driver” are creepy and entertaining, though it’ll probably be a while before I reread either. And “A Good Marriage” is my favorite King story to come out in a while.
“A Fair Extension” was, for me, the weakest of the lot. It was dark without any real weight behind, feeling more mean for meanness sake than to drive a plot home. And I didn’t get the references to major events and tabloid news stories throughout the story.
Aside from “A Fair Extension”, I really enjoyed the collection. It made me giddy and happy and depressed and creeped out all at once, and I think that’s the best one can expect from good horror.