“Everything you see is handcrafted, and while I love each and every item, I’m happy to sell them,” Stephen King writes in the introduction to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, his first collection of short stories in five years. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”
The author isn’t lying: Bad Dreams packs plenty of bite into the 20 stories found here. Roughly half of them have been previously published — in magazines such as The New Yorker and Esquire or via the digital-only Kindle Singles series — but for those who don’t chase down every scrap of King’s prose, it’s a welcome dose of horror from the modern master. A large helping, too: Dreams weighs in at 495 pages, every one of which whips by as you plunge into one jolting tale after another.
Whether it’s the slowly mounting dread of Mile 81 or the stark brutality of The Bone Church, a rare King poem, Dreams finds the author deftly spinning the mundane into the menacing. The ugly twist of Morality pairs well with the equally terrifying Under the Weather — in the space of just a few pages, King can leave your nerves thoroughly jangled. As always, King conjures nightmares you don’t necessarily want to wake up from.
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
- By Stephen King
- Scribner, $30
- Audio: Simon & Schuster Audio, $49.99.