If It Bleeds
If It Bleeds is a collection of 4 novellas published as 1 piece of work. I will be reviewing the 4 pieces separately, each as their own story.
Table of Contents
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone
What Happens in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone?
This story follows a young boy named Craig and his supernatural adventures concerning him, Mr. Harrigan, and an iPhone. This story follows the life of Craig, a young boy who works for Mr. Harrigan by reading to him. On special holidays, Mr. Harrigan would send Craig a scratch card. By chance, Craig wins money, and his life was turned around. Craig was gifted an iPhone, and he gave Mr. Harrigan one as well as a thank you. After Mr. Harrigan’s death, Craig placed Mr. Harrigan’s phone with him in his grave. Whenever Craig would find himself in tough situations, he would call the old phone, expecting the line to be disconnected, but instead, he was able to leave voicemails. From that point on, mysterious events begin happening around Craig.
Who Are The Characters in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone?
This short story contains two main characters, Craig and Mr. Harrigan. Craig is a young boy who lost his mother at a young age, and has worked for Mr. Harrigan since he was nine years old. He is quite a good reader from a young age, and as a result he quickly becomes friends with Mr. Harrigan. Mr. Harrigan is an older man who spent most of his life amassing a huge fortune in New York. He has moved to Harlow, Maine to live a simple life away from the masses. He chose Harlow because it has all the perks of living in a small town, without the stunning views that bring tourists and people from the big cities.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Review
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone starts off pretty simple with a decent connection between Craig and Mr. Harrigan. Their connection is the heart of the story per se, as the readers see an old man and a young boy who are fond of each other. After Mr. Harrington dies however, there are many elements of horror and thriller that begin to pick up, and I couldn’t put the book down. Overall, I thought this was a great short story that was a packed a lot of great material in a short number of pages. This was definitely my #2 out of the four novellas.
The Life of Chuck
What Happens in The Life of Chuck?
This story follows the life of Charles “Chuck” Krantz in reverse order: starting with his death and working towards his childhood. The beginning of the story drops the reader off into an end of the world situation, which has more relevance as the reader progresses through the story. A few months before Chuck’s death, he was away for a business meeting and ended up dancing on the street with a street performer and a random passerby. The final section dealt with his childhood. After losing his parents, Chuck lives with his grandparents.
Who Are The Character in The Life of Chuck?
The Life of Chuck has one prevalent character that follows all three acts, Charles Kranz. The reader gets a few different versions of Chuck as he grows up, from a middle aged man who loves to dance but hasn’t in a long time, to a young boy who has experienced extreme grief. He is mature beyond his years due to all the pain and emotions he faces at a young age.
The Life of Chuck Review
The Life of Chuck is split into three acts and while there are elements of crossover between the three acts, this was definitely the most confusing of the four novellas. I found it hard to connect any of the characters, as I found myself just trying to understand the story as I read. It still is good, and each act of Chuck’s life is compelling with act 1 even having some horror elements in it. While this story was not my favourite and is my #4 of the four novellas, it still made for an interesting read.
If It Bleeds
What Happens in If It Bleeds?
If It Bleeds follows the adventure of Holly, from Finders Keepers, a detective agency. After watching the news about a school bombing, Holly begins to track down the mysterious killer. With each discovery bringing her closer to the killer, old ghosts from her past cases pop up, and begins to have ties with the current case she’s inspecting. The detective work sends Holly all over America for search of evidence. While away, she soon finds that the killer is linked to an Outsider, a being with the ability to change shapes. With this discovery, the case she’s looking into suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous.
Who Are The Characters in If It Bleeds?
This novella has the deepest character list by far. Holly Gibney, a character who has appeared in other works by King, is a detective with Finders Keeper. She is overly protective of those around her due to her past, but she is also locked in superstition. Her routine stays relatively the same, and this is the way she likes things, organized and in her control.
Jerome is a young man who took a year off of university to try writing a book based on a paper he wrote. He is also one of Holly’s friends, and coworkers. Ralph is a detective that has been friends with Holly for a long time, but spends most of this novella on vacation and is only mentioned. Chet is our main antagonist, the local reporter that was lucky enough to be on site for the explosion at the middle school in Pineborough.
If It Bleeds Review
This novella takes up the majority of the pages, and it is in my opinion the best of the four. The story itself is quite engaging, and I found myself excited every time I turned the page. It has horror elements that Stephen King is known for but is largely a cop thriller, but instead of a cop it’s a private investigator.
The story has many twists and unexpected developments that kept me on my toes the entire time I read it. The characters were quite fleshed out in a way I did not expect with Holly, the protagonist, being quite shy in a sense and not liking things to change from her norm, and a reader will feel like they know and understand her.
The other characters like Jerome and Barbara are given deep enough character traits that a reader understands them and why Holly cares for them. The villain of the story is quite interesting as well with a long backstory that connects multiple characters, and he is quite menacing. This novella gave me everything I wanted from mystery, engaging characters, and some horror elements that make it work quite well.
What Happens in Rat?
Rat follows an author, Drew, and his inability to write a novel that he so desires. When inspiration strikes, he whisks himself off to a cabin in the woods to write out what inspired him. While out in the wild, Drew is asked by his wife to return home as a storm was approaching his location.
Drew refused as he wished to write more of his novel. As the terrible storm hits, and Drew is wracked with sickness, a rat appears to him and offers him a deal. In exchange for being able to finish his novel, he would take the life of a friend. Drew, in his delirium, accepts this deal.
Who Are The Characters in If It Bleeds?
Drew Larson is the main protagonist of this novella. He is a struggling author with a new idea for a novel. Drew has struggled to write novels in the past, but he is driven to finally finish a novel he has started. He is willing to risk quite a lot to write the novel, until he truly understands what he is risking. His wife is the more stable character, not quite approving of his journey, but understanding he needs to do this.
This novella wasn’t grand or complex in any way, but it was still a solid story. The idea of an author isolating to write a story isn’t new, but the elements that come into play are interesting especially Drew’s, history of trying to write a novel. Honestly the thriller element does not come into play for most of the novella, but I was still following the story and was interested with what would happen to Drew. This was definitely a solid story, though my #3, that kept me satisfied throughout.
Overall, I thought this collection of novellas was quite good, and as my first Stephen King novel it makes me want to read more. I would highly recommend this to most adults who want a straightforward but quit engaging read.