The Dark Half by Stephen King

The Dark Half, Stephen King, 1989

My favorite quote: “You’re dead, George. You just don’t have the sense to lie down.”

Notable characters: Thad Beaumont, the writer; George Stark, his pseudonym and dark half

Most memorable scene: Thad’s childhood surgery to remove the partial remains of his unborn “twin.” Much like poor Thad, I’ll never entirely get that “twin” out of my head. Just one of many horrors implanted into my brain by Stephen King — but alas … I love him for it

Greatest strengths: The Dark Half has some of the most gruesome descriptions ever — even for a Stephen King novel. And not just the removal of the “twin.” There’s more, *shudders* 

Standout achievements: The writing style. In The Dark Half, Stephen King merges noir, gothic, and horror — in a way that only he can do. I get that he’s long been considered a horror-writer, and he definitely is — but the beauty of Stephen King is that he’s so much more, and even in an earlier work like The Dark Half, you can really see it

Fun Facts: In the 1970s and 80s, Stephen King wrote several books under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Writing The Dark Half was his response to being outed as the real author of the Bachman books. Though where all the creepy black birds in The Dark Half (let alone the removal of Thad’s “twin”) came from is anyone’s guess 

Other media: The 1993 film, The Dark Half by George Romero, starring Timothy Hutton. A DOS video game adaptation in 1992 by Capstone Software. I don’t know how one would “play” The Dark Half video game (see if you can successfully excise Thad’s “twin,” maybe?) but then, I’m not much of a gamer. Also, there’s a coming film adaption of The Dark Half that’s slated to be written and directed by Alex Ross Perry

What it taught me: As a writer, I’ve probably learned more from Stephen King than any other author, and The Dark Half taught me that even the most unique and intriguing concepts require good execution. This book is a fantastic idea, but even so, it’s Stephen King’s prose that really makes it pop

How it inspired me: I pretty much can’t read anything by Stephen King without coming away buzzing with creativity. That includes The Dark Half, which isn’t even one of my favorites. I think writers of any genre could learn a lot from Stephen King. Except maybe people who write those instructions on how to assemble chairs and entertainment centers. I don’t think someone inspired by Stephen King should be encouraging anyone to pick up hammers and drills and the like. Things could go terribly wrong very quickly

Additional thoughts: While the idea of a pseudonym gone wild is actually pretty brilliant, I didn’t love The Dark Half. In my opinion, it wandered, repeated itself, and went on too long. On the other hand, there are moments in this book I’ll never forget (have I mentioned the removal of Thad’s “twin?”) so it’s a mixed bag … For me, that’s not an entirely uncommon response to Stephen King books

Haunt me:

Read The Dark Half

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

2 thoughts on “The Dark Half by Stephen King

  1. Hi Alistair,

    I loved the Dark Half. I bought it as a regular from a book club I belonged to at the time. The Richard Bachman connection and fictional revenge on the publisher’s employee who outed him was very apparent, making this a very memorable book. I still quote the catchphrase, ‘the sparrows are flying’ to my wife whenever I see a flock f the little birds. Also, ‘Low slung sonofabitch’ is a cool monicker for a number plate!

    Keep ‘em coming.


    Tom Adams


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