‘Different Seasons’ – Stephen King

There’s something reassuring about King and though, on occasion, he veers into something off-putting this was a sublime collection of novellas that hooked me from the start.

The Shawshank Redemption immediately had me recalling the movie, which really is so well done. The voice of the narrator draws you in. We’re shown some awful things but you are unlikely to ever feel anything other than admiration for these figures. The gradual revelation of what Andy did to escape prison defies belief…but there was a definite part of me that really admired him for this. Such a small thing, but the optimistic ending about him finding his key to freedom in a hayfield near Buxton always makes me smile (more now I’m living in Hayfield, only a few miles from Buxton). Coincidence? I like to think not.

Apt Pupil begins with a seemingly clearcut American hero. Yet behind Todd’s golden boy facade lies a darkness that is utterly terrifying. This young boy ingratiated himself into the life of an old man…but the man is not quite what he seems. The old man in this story is a former Nazi camp officer who has evaded justice. Todd wants stories. What drives someone to do such horrific things? We’re never sure, but this goes to awful places. Very uncomfortable reading, but fascinating.

The Body is perhaps best known for the child stars that acted in the movie adaptation of the story. When they learn that the body of a missing child has been left on nearby train tracks the group decide to set out on a journey to see it for themselves. A story truly evoking a bygone era. The sense of children crossing into maturity is carefully presented here.

The last story focuses on a bizarre gentleman’s club that few are invited to. They meet regularly and are entertained by a regular telling of stories. We follow our main character through his first experience at the club, and then come to a most unusual story…that of a young woman who, disregarding social convention, is determined to give birth no matter what her personal circumstances.