I‘m not much of a one for horror stories (or so I say because given my love of all things vampire-related, I probably read more horror-ish books than I think) but that didn’t stop me signing up for the Spring into Horror read-a-thon organised by Michelle at Seasons of Reading. It’s a low pressure read-a-thon (one of the things I like about participating) and you only had to commit to reading one horror. Because I have never read any Stephen King – an author I immediately associate with horror – I decided he was the man to read.
After much humming, haa’ing, and attempting to read some of his lengthier novels, which left me daunted, I settled on Carrie – his first book and one that came in at just around 200 pages so it also felt manageable to read in a week (well less by the time I made the decision). After taking so long to settle on a book, I wasn’t feeling too positive when I started. That changed pretty quickly and I ended up really enjoying it.
Published in 1979, Carrie is almost as old as me and I imagine a story most people know. Carrie White is a teenager who has spent her entire live being bullied, by her schoolmates and her mother, a religious fanatic who locks her in the closet whenever she needs to be taught a lesson. What no one knows is that Carrie has telekinetic powers, powers she uses to deadly effect on the night of the high school prom and after a particularly nasty prank is played.
The book is in three parts, before prom, prom night, and the aftermath. It’s told through a mix of perspectives including Carrie’s, other students, her mother, and then excerpts from reports, scholarly articles and court transcripts written after the fact. It sounds confusing but it isn’t and it gives what is actually a very simple story more depth than it might have had otherwise. The changes in perspectives were also quite short, sometimes only a paragraph or two so it kept the story moving and me interested. Once I got used to the way the story flowed and the language, which had a bit of a stream of consciousness to it in some places, I found I couldn’t put it down.
I also found that I felt really sad for Carrie, despite the lives she took in the end. I didn’t blame her because there is only so much a human being can take and her classmates were cruel and her mom pretty evil for a God fearing woman. I didn’t feel bad for anyone she took revenge on, other than Tommy who took her to the prom and was a pretty decent guy.
I was surprised by what happened to Carrie at the end though. For some reason I had been expecting a different ending, not that I’m sure what it could have been. Despite this though, I wasn’t disappointed but actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. I may even go back to some of those meatier novels…liked this a lot.