I’ve wanted to review Needful Things by Stephen King for the past few years but I never could quite find time to read this massive beast of a book. I had read it once before, a few years before I started my blog, so I wanted to give it another read before I reviewed it. I finally made time for it this October and I’m glad that I did. Let’s get into the synopsis and then my thoughts! This review will have slight spoilers.
With a demonic blend of malice and affection, Stephen King says goodbye to the town he put on the map — Castle Rock, Maine . . . where Polly Chalmers runs You Sew and Sew and Sheriff Alan Pangborn is in charge of keeping the peace. It’s a small town, and Stephen King fans might think they know its secrets pretty well; they’ve been here before.
Leland Gaunt is a stranger — and he calls his shop Needful Things. Eleven-year-old Brain Rusk is his first customer, and Brian finds just what he wants most in all the world; a ’56 Sandy Koufax baseball card. By the end of the week, Mr. Gaunt’s business is fairly booming, and why not? At Needful Things, there’s something for everyone.
And, of course, there is always a price. For Leland Gaunt, the pleasure of doing business lies chiefly in seeing how much people will pay for their most secret dreams and desires. And as Leland Gaunt always points out, at Needful Things, the prices are high indeed. Does that stop people from buying? Has it ever?
For Alan and Polly, this one week in autumn will be an awful test — a test of will, desire, and pain. Above all, it will be a test of their ability to grasp the true nature of their enemy. They may have a chance . . . But maybe not, because, as Mr. Gaunt knows, almost everything is for sale: love, hope, even the human soul.
With the potent storytelling authority that millions of readers have come to prize, Stephen King delivers an Out Town with a vengeance, an inimitable farewell to a place his fiction has often and long called home.
Needful Things is one of my favorite Stephen King books and I don’t think it gets the praise it deserves. As I said above, this is a MASSIVE book so if it didn’t hold my attention there’s no way I would have ever finished it, much less read it twice. I’m not afraid to DNF a book, especially a ridiculously long one.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the characters because there are so many of them. This book takes place in a sleepy little town filled with average people and we learn about almost all of them. Most books that have a ton of characters are confusing but this one is not. Each character is completely different and they all have their own unique voices. The most unique of all, however, is our antagonist, Leland Gaunt.
Leland Gaunt exists for one reason and one reason only; to make deals with unsuspecting people by playing on their emotions of greed and lust. Of course, these “deals” aren’t really bargains and he takes much more than they’re willing to lose. The overall story of making a “deal with the devil”, and Mr. Gaunt is the devil, is not a new or original one. It’s been around for hundreds of years, especially during history’s many witch hunts. However, as always, King has taken this basic folklore and spun it into a story that’s both gruesome and hilarious.
This is my third favorite book by King, right behind Pet Sematary and IT. I recommend it to any mature readers that are looking for something creepy to read. Have you ever read Needful Things? If you’re a fan of Stephen King, what’s your favorite book by him? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!