Ah, good ole’ Stephen King. It’s nice to know that he’s always there with a ripping good yarn to give me a break from the steaks of heady non-fiction that I sometimes find myself in. Needful Things is the last of his stories set in the the town of Castle Rock and it follows a common pattern and set of themes that he has developed in other books: a malevolant force comes to a small community (most often in Maine) in order to wreak havok and is finally stopped by a noble hero, usually a law enforcement official. It’s essentially the same theme as seen in The Tommyknockers, parts of The Dark Tower, Christine, It, ‘Salem’s Lot, Desperation, The Regulators, From a Buick 8, and Storm of the Century. And those are just of the works I’ve read.
Still, familiar as it is, Needful Things is still a pretty good read with an interesting presentation of the old plot. A sinister merchant sets up a store and makes faustian deals with the residents of Castle Rock in order to fulfill their wishes and sew seeds that grow into dissent and disaster. I mentioned in my discussion of The Tommyknockers that King excels at building up tension until it releases with a bang, and he does it again here –literally in this case. It’s nice to see all the groundwork he lays grow into something exciting by the end. It’s not King’s best work in terms of creating something unique or literary, but it did pull me in for the ride.