Night Shift contains a number of short stories by Stephen King. First published in 1978 it was nominated for the best collection for the Locus and the World Fantasy Award’s. ‘Night Shift’ was the first book written by King which included a foreword, he uses an informal and humorous style- where he also humbly introduces himself and his horror themed stories.
Previously unpublished, the first novella in ‘Night Shift’ was an unread and unseen text. Set in Maine the story begins on the 2nd of October 1850, when Charles writes a number of letters to his friend Bones. The novella continues like this throughout, with journal and diary extracts from a close friend, Calvin and from a late ancestor- Robert Boone.
King launches into the story using the setting of an old and worn house- left by its previous inhabitants to collect dust. The clichéd beginning which uses the description of the house to set the theme of a horror story is expected… however what follows is not…
Once Charles and Calvin have moved into the house, they begin to realise what they assume to be rats moving about in the basement and behind the walls may be something more scary and sinister…
When Calvin finds Robert Boone’s diary, it gives the pair an insight into the village of Jerusalem’s Lot…however at a price. The book that Robert purchased for his brother, Phillip back in 1789, was also the day that Phillip and the entire village of Jerusalem disappeared. Will this book titled ‘De Vermis Mysteriss’ help Charles discover his ancestor’s secret?
And will the horror end as Charles remains the last in his bloodline?
Rating 4* - It is no wonder King is a best-selling author- ‘Jerusalem’s Lot’ is an unexpected chilling suspense story.
When Calvin discovers the map of a ghost town, Charles finds out more about his past history than he is expects. King really keeps the plot moving from scene to scene, the uncertainty of what lies in the unknown makes his writing even more spectacular.
The ‘Graveyard Shift’ was first published in 1970, in an issue of Cavalier magazine. In 1990 it was also adapted into a film of the same name.
A young worker named Hall lives in a small town in Maine. He is recruited by his boss to assist with a cleaning job over the 4th of July weekend. Happy for the overtime Hall agrees to help his boss alongside his other workers.
The basement of the old mill has been abandoned for decades and is infested with a large colony of rats. Cut off from the rest of nature these rats are no ordinary colony, they are large, armoured and albino coloured. The bizarre creatures have evolved with bat-like features in pterodactyl sizes! They can climb the walls and burrow through the ground… and one by one worker’s begin to get bitten…
However- Hall and his fellow workers have not seen anything until they discover a cow sized queen rat lurking below the basement…
Rating 3* - This bizarre tale by Stephen King is totally unexpected! Many of his more popular titles follow similar cliqued horror plots- however King’s short stories take on a different twist! The ‘Graveyard Shift’ suggests something spookier than an invested basement of rats… and King never fails to disappoint!
First published in the spring of 1969, ‘Night Surf’ is a post-apocalyptic short story. It first appeared in an issue of Ubris magazine later published and heavily revised in ‘Night Shift’.
Warning: Includes spoilers!
The brief story follows a group of teens who have survived a deadly virus called ‘A6’, which has wiped out the entire population of the world. The teenagers prove that they have disturbing natures, as they reiterate a story of the group burning a man alive. They then believe this is the sacrifice that has given them protection against the virus.
The main character- Bernie, reflects on his life- including memories of a previous girlfriend he had taken to the very same beach.
Will the teenagers survive? Are they in fact immune from A6?
Rating 2*- Slightly more of a let-down in comparison to the previous short stories in ‘Night Shift’. This piece is one of the considerably shorter stories in King’s book- it keeps the reading guessing. You do not quite realise it is a post-apocalyptic style story until King reveals it! You can really appreciate Stephen’s style of writing in this novel- even though it is not one of his better pieces.
I Am the Doorway
First published in March 1971 in an issue of Cavalier magazine- the story follows an ex-astronaut’s experience of extra-terrestrial possession which occurs after his trip to Venus.
He begins the story with his hands in bandages whilst he tells his friend, Richard, of a boy who is buried nearby. He complains of a terrible itch that his hands started with once he had returned from space- however he refuses to show anyone.
His hands open a doorway that allows the extra-terrestrial presence to take over his body- which he is adamant killed and buried the boy.
Can the ex-astronaut close the doorway between the worlds?
Rating 4* - After reading the previous stories this space tale ticks all of boxes! King really delivers his stories on the last lines...where he flips the ending and leaves you thinking about what will happen next?!
First published in December 1972 in the cavalier magazine and then later joined the rest of the previous stories in ‘Night Shift’.
‘The Mangler’ is set in an American town; at the beginning of this novel we are introduced to an industrial laundrette- where we meet the Mangler. The police follow a series of gruesome deaths caused by an industrial laundry press machine that devours workers.
Will Detective Hunton get to the bottom of the mystery?
Rating 4* - Weirdly exciting! Although this has a strange plot it is well worth a read, King’s short stories are a hit! They are engaging and farfetched which makes his genre so exhilarating!