If It Bleeds

If It Bleeds

New Fiction

Book - 2020 | First Scribner hardcover edition
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Readers adore Stephen King's novels, and his short stories are their own dark treat, briefer but just as impactful and enduring as his longer fiction. Different Seasons, the knock-out King collection featuring "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" and "The Body" (made into the movies The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me), was published nearly forty years ago. The stories and their characters seem as fresh today as they did when King first introduced them to the world. In If It Bleeds, King gives readers four brilliant new stories sure to prove as iconic as their predecessors. Once again, King's remarkable range is on full display. In the title story, reader favorite Holly Gibney (from the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider) must face her fears and possibly another outsider - this time on her own. In "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," an intergenerational friendship has a disturbing afterlife. "The Life of Chuck" explores, beautifully, how each of us contains multitudes. And in "Rat," a struggling writer must contend with the darker side of ambition. If these stories show King's range, they also prove that certain themes endure. One of King's great concerns is evil, and in If It Bleeds, there's plenty of it, imagined in the title story as "a big bird, all frowsy and frosty gray." There is also evil's opposite, which in King's fiction often manifests as friendship. In this collection, Holly is reminded that friendship is not only life-affirming but can be lifesaving. Young Craig befriends Mr. Harrigan, and the sweetness of this connection is its own reward. King also reminds us that life's quotidian pleasures are even more glorious because they are fleeting: the outrageous good fortune of a beautiful blue day after a string of gray ones; the delight of dancing really well, when every move feels perfect; a serendipitous meeting. It's in these moments that King's ability to describe pure joy rivals his ability to terrify us. -- From dust jacket
Publisher: New York : Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2020
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9781982137977
Characteristics: 436 pages ; 25 cm


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alburke47 Mar 21, 2021

My review was too long, but here's a post to my website if you're interested - https://www.alwroteabook.com/2021/03/21/if-it-bleeds-by-stephen-king/

Jan 20, 2021

The mark of a good storyteller is to be drawn into the story immediately, to keep thinking about it and want to return to it if interrupted part way. King is a master storyteller who uses such simple language to craft his page-turning tales. The four in this book all have a touch of the supernatural, but they are character driven. My only criticism is that the "If It Bleeds" story could have been significantly shortened to eliminate the uninteresting personal life travails of the protaganist.

ArapahoePatrick Nov 25, 2020

A wonderful collection of short stories that are incredibly varied. My personal favorite concerned a unique vampire hunt which follows a protagonist of a different Stephen King story. They all are enrapturing and moving, I found it hard to stop reading between sittings.

Oct 14, 2020

It's no "Different Seasons." Or "Four Past Midnight." But, it certainly works as a collection of stories. I think Stephen King is extremely underrated and undervalued as a short fiction writer. While I'm a Constant Reader and love the long novels I don't recall ever having to grind through his short stories or novellas. I really liked all of these stories. If you're new to Stephen King I might recommend Salem's Lot or the short story collection "Skeleton Crew." To start. But, if you have followed his career over the years. This volume is an entertaining trip.

Sep 23, 2020

Honestly, I was not as entertained reading If It Bleeds as I have been reading past works of Stephen King. If It Bleeds is King's newest release (as of April 2020) that is not as strong as some of his other literary tales. It is a book containing four novellas. These novellas are titled Mr. Harrigan's Phone, Life of Chuck, If It Bleeds and Rat. Mr. Harrigan's Phone is very unsettling in the beginning and middle. This is everything we want from a Stephen King story. However, I feel as if King could've gone so much further and continued the story to make it as dark as possible. In this, the story feels cut off and unfinished. Life of Chuck at least comes full circle while having an ending that gives readers a sense of closure. Although, even this story is bland with forgettable characters and a concept that made me wonder what the point of the story was. The second half of the book begins to get better as If It Bleeds has very memorable characters. Holly Gibney, being the main character, has been featured in many of King's beloved novels such as Mr. Mercedes and The Outsider. So, it was very exciting to have a riveting tale that is full of suspense featuring Holly as the center of attention. Rat is a twisted tale that is extremely memorable. The story is very simplistic, but dark and terrifying at the same time. Stories like these are why I am so drawn to Stephen King books. At the end of the day, If It Bleeds features two novellas that readers are better off without (Mr. Harrigan's Phone, Life of Chuck) and two novellas that do the book justice after reading the bad ones (If It Bleeds, Rat). Three stars. - @BlingThrash15 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Aug 31, 2020

Another Stephen King short story collection to add to the impressive list. It’s interesting bringing characters from novels back around again, because their story just isn’t finished and they still have more to say. King is already very good at scaring your socks off, which happens at least once here! But pay attention and you might just find something to warm your heart. I’d also like to take this time to kindly ask you, library book reader, please stop dog- ears on library books. This is where you fold the page down to use as a bookmark to hold your place. This copy had dog-ears every few pages. You can do this to your own books that you pay for, but please don’t do it to expensive library books that pass through many hands. If you fear you will always lose a bookmark, try an audiobook.

Aug 10, 2020

The title story is satisfyingly full of Finders Keepers characters. SK is a master at people. Here he asserts that the monsters that harm us, and feed off our pain & grief may be a virus, an alien among us. He also contemplates his rocking chair.

Aug 09, 2020

Really enjoyed Mr Harrigan's Phone, If It Bleeds and Life of Chuck. Rat was my least favourite - it gave me the jitters.

rsmunoz Aug 02, 2020

Another sure-to-please collection by King. There's horror King and then there's unnerving King. These stories are more of the latter. The master storyteller will take you for a ride with phone calls with the dead, a deal with the devil, monster chasing, and even one with an apocalyptic slant told in reverse. I just love how he mixes the weird stuff with average people living everyday lives. Longtime fans will slurp it up, and newbies will scramble for his back list. 4 stars.

Jul 27, 2020

Stephen King-always brilliant and definitely always original. I thoroughly enjoyed the further adventures of Holly Gibney in his title story, If It Bleeds and the other stories are King at his very best. This great book was worth waiting for and I look forward to his next. Be prepared to be scared!

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Jul 08, 2020

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Mar 31, 2020

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Sep 02, 2020

"Free samples are fine, but if you give people too much for-free, whether its clothes or food or information, they come to expect it." - Mr. Harrigan to Craig upon the gift of an iPhone with internet capability.

Aug 26, 2020

"I sometimes thought of an African proverb I’d read in one of my classes: 'When an old man dies, a library burns.' "


Add a Summary
Aug 26, 2020

Mr. Harrigan's Phone

If we could communicate with the dead, would we do so? Would it prevent "Rest in Peace?" Would we hurt ourselves? In a fit of anger, text, "I wish that guy was dead!" Then find out later, he's been killed in an accident. Careful what you wish for!

The Life of Chuck

Starts with the end of the world as the characters begin seeing a retirement ad that seems odd because it's so mundane (given all the natural disasters.) "Charles Krantz. 39 Great Years. Thanks Chuck!" So who is Charles Krantz? The rest of the story answers the question. Also introduces the idea that when a mind dies, an entire world can go with it.

If It Bleeds

Follows Holly, a character introduced in the novel "The Outsider."
When a bomb goes off in a school, Holly discovers that the carnage is the work of a shape shifting creature that feeds off terror and grief. With the help of friends at her detective agency, Holly and company are able to lure the creature into a trap. Only from the mind of Steven King: death by automated talking elevator! King might also be having a little fun with on-line translation apps. Detecting an emergency, a robotic voice in the elevator calmly instructs everyone to, "Panic! Panic! Panic!"


Drew Larson is writing a novel when he catches a severe case of the flu. He is delirious when he dreams (or is visited by) a talking rat. It will help him finish the book, but someone Drew knows has to die. The rat suggests an elderly friend who has cancer. Drew agrees because a talking rat can't possibly be real. Drew finishes the novel, and it gets published. He has forgotten about the rat. When Drew gets news his elderly friend and his wife have been killed in a traffic accident, he remembers the rat's bargain. He seeks out the creature and they argue. Drew thinks the rat would make a good lawyer. It has a loophole or a technicality to dismiss all of his objections. Life goes on and Drew resumes teaching and family life. He tells himself the rat had to have been bad dreams. Life is full of strange quirks of fate. A man survives cancer only to be killed in a car wreck. Sometimes maybe there are no explanations. However, Drew has no intention of ever writing another novel.

Common Themes: Aging & Mental Accuity, Death & Dying


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