It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. I’ve
hoarded read a couple of books since my last one and my favorite is from none other than Stephen King, the master of horror. I received a copy of “Bazaar of Bad Dreams” as a Christmas present from last year’s Secret Santa in the office. How was the book? Let me just say that I did not regret asking for it.
There are 21 short stories in “Bazaar of Bad Dreams” and all of them are well worth reading. Is it scary? Not really, but it’s still a good book to read because it does well in terms of unsettling you. There’s a story about an evil, killer car. Another one is about a husband who does not cope well with the condition of his wife. While the overall feel for this book is dark and at times heavy, there’s also humor injected in some, like “Drunken Fireworks.” (Sidenote: That “Summer Thunder” story was quite depressing. After reading that, I was like, “Well, this calls for hugs for our dogs.”)
With all 21 stories in this bizarre “Bazaar of Bad Dreams”, I rounded up my top three favorites. I do love my horror with something creepy and eerie pertaining to ghosts and such. The three short stories below do not have ghosts but they sure don’t fall short on the creepy and the eerie. And as per the usual Stephen King, there’s always that nasty evil lurking just around the corner, ready to jump out and shriek and screech until it triumphs.
“Bad Little Kid”
In this story, George Hallas, a prisoner nearing his execution date, recounts his experience with the little boy he killed. As the story progresses, we learn that things are not what they seem — especially when it comes to the reason why he killed the boy who was no more than six years old. You can guess from the title that the little kid is not really human. If he was, then something else took over his chubby kid body and replaced it with something sinister and crude.
It started when George was still a kid, on the way home with his neighbor and good friend, Marlee. They were walking on the side of the road when a kid with a striped sweater and beanie hat with a propeller on it started teasing Marlee from the other side. That first (and definitely not the last) encounter with the bad little kid resulted to Marlee being hit by a car. Like all events, this would fade into memory for George. Years later, during college, he encounters the kid again. This time, he is walking down the street with his girlfriend, Vicky. You can guess what happens next. When he finally catches up with the bad little kid years later, things don’t go well for George. His story is sad and his ending is sad as well. But then there’s a catch. One that came in the form of a beanie with a propeller on it, with a daunting, chilling note. Looks like the bad little kid is back and he’s got his eye on someone close to George yet again.
Wesley Smith, an English professor, is an old school type when it comes to reading. He has always preferred reading books with his hands, all weight and wonder printed out in paper before him. This changed when his girlfriend broke up with him. Depressed yet determined, Wesley ordered a Kindle. A few days later, he became a reluctant owner of a pink Kindle. Soon he discovers that his gadget is unlike the others. He is able to jump from one alternate universe to the next just by searching within the Ur functions. Thrilled yet confused, Wesley now has access to his favorite authors’ never before published works, which never existed in his time and universe.
Together with a student and a fellow professor, they explore all the other things that Ur has to offer. One of those things was access to newspapers, specifically The New York Times and his local newspaper. In those, they discover that the end of the world did happen in the 1960s and that a few days from now, his ex-girlfriend and her basketball team will meet a tragic and grisly bus accident. Determined, Wesley hunts down the source of the bus accident. This turn of event sets loose two men from another world. A confrontation ensues and Wesley learns that actions and reactions come with a price. They always do.
“That Bus is Another World”
This has to be one of the shortest stories in the book. Short as it may be, this one is not any less horrifying. In this story, we are introduced to Wilson, a man on his way for a meeting with one of the top ad firms in the country. Caught in traffic, he is mesmerized upon seeing a young woman in the bus next to the taxi he was riding. He noticed that the young woman, who was transfixed with the magazine she was reading, was not alone. A man sat next to her, busy with his briefcase.
This short story reminds us that little horrors, random as they are, do come when we least expect it.
I cannot say it well enough: Read “Bazaar of Bad Dreams” if you are going for something dark and disturbing. There is plenty of that in this book.