Author: Stephen King
First Published: 1980
Page Count: 230
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Even at its short length, this story has a perfect give and take method of building your suspense that any horror fan will be glad they read it.
*Freaky premise *Air of mystery from beginning to end
*One minor character choice didn’t fit the story well
“The Harrison side of the lake was gone. It had been buried under a line of bright white mist, like a fair-weather cloud fallen to earth.” After a devastating thunderstorm rocks the vacation town of Bridgton, Maine, a mysterious mist rolls in bringing nightmarish creatures along with it. Trapped in a local grocery store, the shoppers must think of a way to survive and find a way out of their hellish predicament.
I have only read two Stephen King books (the first being Under the Dome) but I will still confidently say this is my favorite of his books so far. It isn’t really a full book, but more of a novella. I was lucky enough to finally come across it in my local bookstore in the standalone version of the story that was published when the film came out. Even though King only gives you a partial glimpse of the horrors within the mist and what might have brought about its existence, it is what you don’t see and know about the mist that gives the book its power. Stephen King has said the film version of this book was the scariest adaptation of one of his books and I’d have to say that this book is one of his scarier premises that I’m aware of. There is something so frightening about being trapped in such familiar surroundings like a local grocery store in a small town surrounded by something as common in nature as mist.
There was only one thing I really had a problem with in the book. I won’t reveal what it is so that I don’t spoil the story for anyone. However it is a choice the main character, David Drayton, makes while he is held hostage by the mist in the grocery store that didn’t sit well with me. It went against everything that we knew to be true about his character and values from the beginning of the story. I suppose you could chalk his choice up to the pressures that apocalyptic scenarios put on people, which cause them to act differently than normal. However, his choice seemed really out of left field and didn’t add anything substantial to the story, so I could have done without that scene.
While The Mist is certainly a simple story, that doesn’t take away any of its horror punch. It gets right down to business by building up the terror and the length of the story is perfect for the tale King has crafted. Even the ambiguous ending leaves you something nice to chew on. Not every book needs to be X amount of pages long and filled with blood thirsty zombies to give you an uneasy night in bed, and King proves that here.
*Film Adaptations: (Starring Marcia Gay Harden 2007)