If it Bleeds by Stephen King was the Sceptre May buddy read. Fetching the envelope with the yet secret book from the mailbox, I remember thinking, ‘Well, it can’t be a King, it’s too slim’. I laughed so hard when I opened the brown paper envelope a few minutes later.

Not having read a Stephen King book for ages, only partly Mr King’s fault (I wasn’t a big fan of The Dark Tower), I was a bit hesitant to start these novellas. Only a few pages into the first story I was hooked though. There was something about the writing, it felt like coming home to a favourite book. (Why did I put Mr King off for so long?) And the plots reminded me of The X-Files; a bit creepy, but nothing too scary.

There’s “Mr Hannigan’s Phone”, a story about a young boy who still gets messages from his former employer’s phone long after Mr Hannigan and his phone were buried. There’s “The Life of Chuck”, a story told in reverse chronology, from Chuck on his deathbed to Chuck’s childhood. Then the story about a writer with writer’s block who strikes a deal with the dev… “Rat” which allows him to finish his novel, but at what costs? And, of course, the title story, “If It Bleeds”. It’s basically a sequel to The Outsider starring Holly Gibney, who sees beyond some facial hair and smells a rat.

My favourite story? Can’t say exactly. I liked all of them for different reasons. “If It Bleeds” put Mr Mercedes and The Outsider on my reading list. “The Life of Chuck” was interesting because of the unusual timeline. “Mr Hannigan’s Phone” made me wonder who I might be able to reach with that ancient iPhone I keep in one of my drawers. “Rat” spoke to me, because I’ve had to battle writer’s block before, worst was staring at the blank page when I tried to write my MA thesis. Though that was not the main reason, it reminded me of one of my favourite childhood books, Jules Ratte. A story about a girl who finds a very intelligent, speaking rat and keeps it as a pet. She’s taking it to school too, so the rat can help her cheat on her tests.

Since I tend to read everything a book has to offer, yes truly everything from the copyright page to the acknowledgements, I must say that the best part of the book was the Author’s Note. That’s just be though, you might like a different part of the book best.

4/5 Goodreads stars