Stephen King is a fail-safe author; when I don’t know what to read, I read Stephen King because I’m always sure it will be great. This story was no exception, as you’ll soon find in this Needful Things book review.
Stephen King is one of the most prolific authors of our time, but Needful Things is one of the most iconic tales. Once reading Needful Things, many pop-culture references start to make sense.
It was the first novel Stephen King wrote after coming out of rehab for addiction. This proved that King doesn’t need to follow the writer’s adage of “write f*cked, edit sober.” He’s still a great author, sober.
What Needful Things Is About
Set in the town of Castle Rock in Maine (where else would it be?), the residents are intrigued by a new store, Needful Things. Now, what exactly could that supply? Whatever you need, of course, or rather, whatever you believe you need.
Leland Gaunt’s new store has something for everyone, but his items don’t come cheap, which doesn’t refer to the price tag. While immensely satisfied with their purchases, his customers find the worst of themselves emerging to protect their newfound property. A mere little prank or trick is a part of the terms of conditions, but Mr. Gaunt knows his trade well, and soon enough, greed consumes the residents of Castle Rock.
Only Sherrif Alan Pangborn can feel something’s not quite right about the new clerk, but can he save his town from something bigger than himself?
What I Thought
Like all of King’s works, this is dark, and a sinister ambiance of foreboding runs throughout as there’s something about Mr. Gaunt you just can’t put your finger on. It may be a lengthy novel, but it never bores. The number of characters and frequent POV changes can be confusing, but you could conduct the census of Castle Rock yourself by the end of it! It’s alarming, brutal, and violent at times, but King’s humour always shines through for comic relief.
Even though Needful Things won’t happen in real life (I hope), it’s a cautionary tale about greed. You can get your hands on your most desired possession but at the cost of your decency and soul? The whole town falls apart after the store opens when one “harmless” prank Mr. Gaunt has his customers do ripples into chaos.
Leland Gaunt is such as captivating antagonist. King excels at writing bad guys, and Mr. Gaunt is one of his best villains.
I would 100% recommend this to anyone who loves horror and thriller novels. I have a bookshelf full of books I’ve yet to read, but all I want to do is pick up another King novel!
Did you know Rick and Morty based an episode on Needful Things?