The Dark Half by Stephen King


Author: Stephen King

Title: The Dark Half

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1989

Number of Pages: 431

Geographical Setting: Maine

Time Period: present time

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Thad Beaumont is a writer, a husband, and a father of twins. He has made many fans and big money writing gory horror novels under a pen name, George Stark. When a potential blackmailer threatens to reveal Stark’s identity, Thad decides to “kill” his alter ego and to start writing under his real name. After Thad makes a fake funeral for Stark, a serial killer starts murdering people in the fashion of Stark’s novels. The main suspect in these horrible crimes is Thad, since his fingerprints are all over the murder scenes.  As he realizes it is his own “dark half” to blame, the revenge seeking killer goes for Thad’s life. Although the horrifying killing spree takes place later in the story, the reader can feel the sense of menace from the first chapter, when teenage Thad’s brain tumor surgery reveals body parts of an undeveloped twin. This character-driven story is high in emotion as the reader feels for Thad, a nice family guy, and fears for his supposedly fictional sinister alter ego. Suspense, a mysterious villain, and an intriguing storyline make this book impossible to put down. Even those who find unexpectedly appearing graphic scenes of violence disturbing will keep reading this page-turner to find out what happens next.

Subject Headings: Horror fiction, Mystery fiction, American authors – fiction

Appeal: fast-paced, character driven, terrifying, emotional, sense of menace, unexplained phenomena, sympathetic protagonist, sinister antagonist, intriguing characters, graphic violence, serial killer, clever plotline, gripping, mysterious

3 terms that best describe this book: terrifying, fast-paced, intriguing characters

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Man with the Phantom Twin: Adventures of the Neuroscience and Human Nature by V.S. Ramachandran (his scientific book explains multiple phenomena of the human brain, a topic that was raised but never rationally explained in King’s novel)

The Monster of Florence by Douglas J. Preston (like King’s horror, this true crime story has a suspenseful, creepy, and dark tone; in both books there is an element of sleuthing for a brutal serial killer and accusation of the crime falls on the “good guys”)

Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms by Carmela Ciuraru (while Dark Half is about a writer whose pseudonym comes to life with horrible consequences, this true historical writing expands the topic of pen names – it describes multiple writers, their lives hidden under their pen names, and various consequences of their reveal)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Darkfall by Dean Koontz (both novels are fast paced, with suspenseful, menacing tone, and multiple scenes of explicit violence; like in King’s novel, there is a supernatural antagonist killing people, and attempts to catch him bring deadly threat)

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (like King’s novel this story is character-driven, creepy, suspenseful, and violent, featuring a serial killer; although satirical in nature, it resembles King’s concept of having in the brain a supernatural being that kills others)

The Stake by Richard Laymon (like Dark Half, this is a fast paced horror story with explicit violence; the main characters of both novels are horror writers and their writings in some ways come to life)

Name: Anna


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