The Mist by Stephen King Review

"The Mist" by Stephen King is a novella found in his short story anthology "Skeleton Crew." It is the story of a small town in Maine that is overcome by a storm one evening. The following morning, as residents begin to clean up and rebuild, a mist begins to creep toward the town. It is a mist like none of them have ever seen and it makes a few residents, particularly our protagonist David Drayton, uneasy. When the mist hits the town, residents both indoors and outdoors realize that not only is the mist an unknown, but untold numbers of nightmarish creatures live in the mist and are waiting for their human prey to wander outside or give them a way in.

Like so many other Stephen King stories and novels, "The Mist" reads like a gripping study in human behavior. King has keen insight into the emotions of all the character types he uses -- from the worried, protective father and hero in disguise types to the loud mouth coward and charismatic yet crazy leader types. "The Mist" is no exception. From the word go in this novella, Stephen King is developing characters and character histories that lead the reader to a culmination of each character's inner person, so to speak. As the horror begins to engulf the town, David Drayton is trapped in a grocery store with his son and dozens of others. As the horror of what is outside begins to make cracks in everyone's sanity, we see extreme religiosity, charisma, foolishness, despair, desperation and bravery. It all unfolds in such a way that the reader can see his or her neighbors among the victims. This is how Mr. Smith would react, etc. That is the beauty of some of Stephen King's work. The surroundings or antagonists are impossible and horrible, but there is something very realistic and earthy about his characters.

The entire book is told from David Drayton's perspective, so where he goes, the reader goes. This is good because most other characters either go to their deaths or stay stuffed into a grocery store. David is worried about his wife at home, who is most likely dead, and the son beside him, who is rapidly losing the innocence of childhood. David is the quintessential good guy, trying to do the right thing, even if he is sometimes wrong. He is met with some serious opposition in the book, namely a crazed woman who wants to murder someone to please god. However, he is one of the few characters who do not give into a gimmick to ease his fear. This makes the read a little less horrible than it could have been, considering the reader does not have to be along for the ride in the mind of an insane person.

Sometimes in horror, the writer only touches on what is horrible about the story. They use methods that leave the readers to their imaginations. These are quite effective methods. However, Stephen King rarely does this. He drags his readers straight into the sh*t with him. In "The Mist", we have a little bit of both. The size of the mist is unknown and no one can see what is there until he gets close, which is often too late. Therefore, the reader knows that there are horrors lurking in the mist. The evidence is in the creatures that get close enough to kill. This is when Stephen King drags you in the shi*t. He introduces you to dinosaur-sized gray masses, dog-sized spiders, tentacles that lead off into the mist and flying insectile creatures that are too large and evil looking. However, you are still left to wonder what else is out there in the mist. It is a very enjoyable mix of two writing methods.

When it comes to the horror genre Stephen King is among the most prolific, talented and popular novelists of all time. Stories like "The Mist" show exactly why this is. King has a way of keeping widespread disaster from becoming grandiose. He has a way of bringing readers the small town characters that they may recognize from their own lives, thus making them wonder what the people around them would do in a Kingesque situation.

Shelly Barclay

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