I have always had a taste for horror. Not the mass-murder, hack and slash, screamer style—my tastes are for the fairy-tales-gone-wrong, betrayal, and sex. Edgar Allen Poe’s Cask of Amontillado, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves were some of the first horror stories I read. After that, I guess you could say I had tasted blood.
IT by Stephen King was the first “proper” horror novel I ever read. You could classify the stories I’d read before as gothic horror and this one was contemporary or modern horror, but no matter. This book left me starry-eyed about Stephen King. I started buying his other books, picking up the anthologies of H.P. Lovecraft and delving into the genre.
IT was an absolutely brilliant read. Within the first hundred pages, King had introduced all of the main characters in such a way that I felt like I knew them. I didn’t know them on a personal level, but King gave me just enough about each character that I could extrapolate what they were really like. He only briefly described what their parents were like, what a typical day after school was like, and who their eventual spouses were, but he did so in such a way that I felt like I could imagine what their whole life had been like from the time they were kids in the Loser’s Club to when they come back as adults. This was a remarkable set-up for a crazy story.
One scene in particular that I don’t think I’ll ever forget was when Bevvy accidentally stumbles across Henry and Patrick in the dump. She knows that if she’s caught, it’s not going to be good. But the readers know—thanks to a couple of King’s infamous lengthy asides—just how bad it is going to be. Some standard dramatic irony right? But then he adds the rather urgent matter of Bevvy needing to relieve herself.
Now, going to the bathroom isn’t something that I would think about while writing an intense scene for a character. In fact, I can only recall one other book where a character needed to use the washroom at all (Stephanie Meyer’s The Host, if you’re wondering). When the scene was finally over, and Bevvy got out safe, I was left in awe. Not so much that she got out okay, but at how much that small detail made everything seem infinitely worse.
There are many more things I could say about Stephen King’s novel, but those two points were definitely the most memorable to me. Plus, I have to leave something for the next blog post, right?