Stephen King has written a new horror story: “Later”
“The whole thing here is probably a horror story,” the narrator clarifies right from the start. You don’t expect anything else from “Later”: Because the novel comes from Stephen King, the master of cultivated horror. Once again, the prolific US author delivered a hair-raising, exciting story that will hardly disappoint fans – not his best work, but one that is extremely entertaining and, as usual, solidly written.
Jamie Conklin, the protagonist in “Later”, can see dead people. “It’s not like the one movie with Bruce Willis, though,” he says. Jamie can talk to them too, and they have to tell him the truth. For his mother, a literary agent in financial distress, he uses his gift to find out from a recently deceased writer the content of his not yet written last volume of a bestseller series. But Jamie soon realizes that not all dead behave as kindly as the faded author – and that alleged friends can quickly become enemies.
“Later” is, according to the announcement, a horror story with supernatural phenomena, an evil spirit and splatter scenes. But the name King vouches for serving up more than a simple horror story. Even if there are no more or less hidden political messages this time (except perhaps that the name of a very evil character in the book, Thumper, reminds a little of Trump), the 73-year-old adds elements from crime, family drama to his latest horror story and coming-of-age.
As in many King classics (from “It” to the short story “Die Leiche” filmed as “Stand By Me” to the younger “Joyland”), “Later” focuses on a young person who suddenly finds himself with nightmares Shadow world, but also confronted with the bitter reality (murder, incest and drugs). Or as the publisher put it in the leaflet accompanying the book, it is “a story of growing up and becoming strong”. Each page is a page turner: Once again, King proves himself to be a perfectionist in a narrative technique that forces one to devour his novel.
Almost 300 pages in the Stephen King cosmos could almost be described as a novella. This noble trash story with a few surprising twists and turns – which the author makes curious about in classic King manner a few pages before with cryptic announcements – doesn’t need any more volume. Insiders can smile when King digs up the “Ritual of Chüd” (from “It”) or his protagonists make fun of a writer who always puts his story in the same place. “Later” is not set in Maine this time, but in New York.
(SERVICE – Stephen King, “Later”, translated by Bernhard Kleinschmidt, Heyne Verlag, 304 pages, 22.70 euros)