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Stephen King: A Face Among the Masters
Brighton David Gardner
Brighton David Gardner, 91 pages

Stephen King: A Face Among the Masters
Brighton David Gardner
Brighton David Gardner has spent years researching the world of Stephen King. He has interviewed Stephen King scholars, enthusiasts and film makers. A frequent contributor to talkstephenking.blogspot.com, Brighton has been interviewed by CNN on the subject of Stephen King.

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A review by Sandra Scholes

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Stephen King has inspired generations of readers with his novels, mostly horror, some science fiction and the occasional fantasy. This book, rather than just being about Stephen King, is more about the kind of influences he had when he was developing as a writer and the novels he liked reading. It did not take long for King to become well-known, as he fast became a household name throughout the world. Everyone remembers his first novel and the most recent ones he has penned. His first novel, Carrie had a profound impact on the public who had yet to realise how famous he would become over the years, and just how many novels he would complete. Carrie, like many of his books would be a social comment for all who read it. In it, Carrie White is smothered and harassed by her mother, a religious type who mentally abuses her. Carrie, it transpires, has powers of her own she could easily use to hurt or kill her. And the pupils at her school don't know this at first and take great delight in making fun of her for being different.

Stephen King: A Face Among the Masters has eight chapters. Chapter 1 deals with Carrie, his first novel and why it is still being talked about today. Readers can identify with Carrie as she is bullied at school, and abused at home by her insane mother. Other writers have influenced King such as H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch and Ray Bradbury. After this chapter, Brighton David Gardner recommends Lord of the Flies by William Golding as the readers may like the book and notice its similarities. Gardner does this at the end of most of the chapters. I found it helpful to know that there are other books I would enjoy. In further chapters, Gardner talks about Poe's works that were early influences for King and the influence of Charles Dickens among many. One of the more interesting chapters is 4: Which Book Would Alfred Hitchcock Film? Hitchcock's movies are iconic; Psycho, North by Northwest and Vertigo stand out as popular ones. The meaning of this chapter is that if Hitchcock was alive today; there are certain novels by King he might like to turn into movies. Some of them, Cell, The Running Man, and Dolores Claiborne all have similarities to Hitchcock movies; therefore they are prime examples of the horror genre and ideal for his type of movie making.

Gardner's other chapters focus on King's influences from the Twilight Zone in his later books, and is a very interesting chapter to look at called Dark Theologian where he mentions King's books using religion as a main theme running through them. Using other writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as a basis for similar books, we find out the Christian belief systems for The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, the shining and Salem's Lot. Who could forget the part in Salem's Lot where Mark picks a cross and brandishes it at the undead figure of his former friend, or when Barlow faces off Father Callahan, testing his faith?

King's work has grown over the years and as a writer his stories have captured the imagination of millions and Gardner makes some very interesting points about his novels, his characters and the themes where good almost always triumphs over evil. Gardner does have a lot to say that King was not the only writer who had a keen following; H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe had "constant readers" who enjoyed the books they had published. Stephen King: A Face Among the Masters is more a novel about the writers who inspired Stephen King to write. Gardner makes what could have been an ordinary book about a writer a true pleasure to read.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra's enjoying the heat at the moment that could rival Hell's dark abyss and while the perspiration has been flowing, so has the inspiration to write for the following; Albedo One, Hellnotes, the British Fantasy Society, Love Romance Passion and my blog.


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