The Bazaar Is Open

  Stephen King The Bazaar of Bad Dreams 5/5 stars


       I’ve had Bazaar of Bad Dreams since November of last year but I avoided it because there were always other books that I needed to review or there was a story that I needed to write. If you’ve read my reviews before you know that I have a love hate relationship with the later releases that King has written. On my shelf are UK editions of Misery, The Dark Half, The Tommy Knockers, and Four Past Midnight as well shit I have yet to read. Lisey’s Story, Cell, The Dome, and more. King was a huge influence on my writing and it pains me to say that I’m more of a casual fan now and not the constant reader I used to be.

     Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the latest in King’s collection of short fiction. We know how this works. Among the gems are a lot of filler. It’s something we’ve come to expect. I’ve read them all with the exception of Everything’s Eventual and the novella collection Full Dark No Stars. Dreams sat on my tablet for months and then I thought what the hell why not read it? This will at least tide me over until I work up the courage to read End of Watch (which I’m also avoiding). I set my expectations low knowing that there wouldn’t be any classic horror stories, and would no doubt be filled with the usual shit that King’s been writing. It’s a short story collection so I can skip what I don’t like. That's how it usually works. 

     Something happened as I was reading. I read Mile 81 and was totally absorbed in the story. Car comes out of nowhere and kills people. Sounds almost like Christine and Stephen King knows this. He even references this very fact in the story. This was a creepy little tale that had all the bench marks of a King classic. Next story hit and once again I am blown away. I kept expecting the filler to hit yet it never did. Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a solid collection that is almost as addicting as crack cocaine. I would find myself reading one story while promising that this would be it and I would stop reading, but that was a lie. This is without a doubt my favorite short story collection that King has released. Nightmare and Dreamscapes would be a very close second.

     What makes this so good are the stories. There aren’t many that would be considered horror but it feels as if King has finally decided to write what he wants. He’s made his money so know he’s taking a few risks and they actually pay off. These are stories that are all over the place and some will actually stick with you long after you read them. Each story flows into the next and as an added bonus King gives us a bit of background on each story. As an old fan I was surprised by how good this collection was despite the lack of horror. It’s a bit dark in places but that’s okay. The common theme here is death and the fear of it. Twenty stories may seem like overkill, but I enjoyed every single one of them. I’m sure there are others that find this collection a bit dull, or too long but I enjoyed every single moment of Bazaar of Bad Dreams which hasn't happened in a really long time.  This is King at his best and while I was bummed that there wasn't a lot of horror in the Bazaar I did find a writer who is still capable of writing a decent story that doesn't bore the piss out of me.