I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The story is a bit daft - I know that’s something you just have to take for granted (with varying degrees depending on the premise) with Stephen King’s books - and the genre in general, but I think the physical manifestation of a parasitic twin crept a little too far over the line and prevented my total absorption.
There was enough about the book that I did like to keep me interested the whole way through and I cared for the safe outcome of Thad, his family and Alan. I liked pretty much all of the characters and appreciated the less than tome-like length of the book. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the reading experience either.
As for what I wasn’t keen on: Stark’s existence made no sense. Yes, I know King’s works beg a hefty suspension of disbelief, he’s just usually much more explanatory or at least provides a thread of logic to the far-fetched plot points. I’m not saying I’d have preferred a classic dissociative identity disorder story, although it would have been easier to swallow than the physical reality of Stark as a separate person. Of course it wouldn’t, and couldn’t, have been the same book, but at least it would have been a concrete reference point. I’m being a whiny bitch, I know, but for someone whose works are generally resplendent with exposition, we were kept as much in the dark as the characters themselves.
The illustration of the bond between the twin babies was something that always threatened to have a deeper significance than it actually turned out to have, particularly when William displayed the identical bruise that Wendy earned from her fall. In the end it didn’t go anywhere and, if the point was just to say that twins have a strange connection, he made that point just by stating it and mentioning the few examples of phenomena and didn’t need the Wendy/William goose chase.
As for the book being a response to his outing as Richard Bachman, I’m a bit removed, 20 years down the line, always having known that Bachman was King to be too much moved by the idea that he was outed. The idea of the pen name existing as a distinct personality is interesting but a little over-dramatic when extrapolated to the nth degree. I think/hope it’s more a case of King having a bit of fun with the concept.
So yeah…The Dark Half. Not great but not shit.