The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Friday 29 April 2016

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Stephen King
Genre(s): Adult, Horror, Short Stories
Published: November 3th 2015
Pages: 483
Rating: 4 stars

In The Bazaar of Bad Dreams there is a curio for every reader – a man who keeps reliving the same life, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries, a poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax.

There are also intriguing connections between the stories – themes of morality, guilt, the afterlife and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.

Effervescent yet bittersweet, juxtaposing the everyday against the unexpected, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to both his ‘Constant Reader’ and new audience. King introduces each with a fascinating autobiographical passage about its origins or his motivation for writing it, giving unique insight into his craft which will delight the millions inspired by his celebrated non-fiction title On Writing.

I made them especially for you’, says King. ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’

Stephen King really is the King of his craft. He's able to spin creepy, spine-chilling tales in 40 pages as he is in 400. This collection of short stories wastes no time in getting down to business, ensuring from the get-go you're in for a wild ride.

Mile 81 kicks off the collection with an anecdote of King's past travels and abandoned rest stops, which in themselves can be horror stories. It's perhaps reminiscent of Christine and From a Buick 8, but I wouldn't know as I've yet to read those. What I do know is that the slow build sets the tone for the rest of the stories: things are not what they seem.

I wouldn't go as far as to call the overarching theme 'horror', but it's definitely unsettling - in some cases more so than others. Before this, I'd only read one collection of King's short stories (Full Dark, No Stars) and while I loved it, I did find I preferred some stories over others. This again was the case with The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, with some of my personal favourites being The Dune, A Death, and Afterlife.

King has a way of switching his tone and style to suit each story. Some came across as more 'classically King' to me than others, but all were enjoyable in their own right. Characters felt well established and separate from each other, and things had just the right amount of believability coupled with the unnatural. 

Overall, a good place to start if you're new to King's work and don't want to be terrified.


  1. This book looks so intriguing! Also perfect for me to start off with because I am a huge scaredy cat!

    1. It's definitely worth looking into if you don't want to commit to one of his novels. Some were definitely scary, but it's easy enough to skip those! I will say, I'm a massive scaredy cat, too, when it comes to films but somehow I can cope with King.


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