N – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleN (Taken From Just After Sunset Collection, 2008)
AuthorStephen King
PublisherSimon & Schuster Audio
Time12 hours 17 minutes
AudienceFiction, Horror Anthologies, Short Stories
ASIN #B001L4EF46


Stephen King; need I say more.


This is another novella by the eponymous Stephen King. This tale is taken from King’s 2008 Just After Sunset Collection. Whilst the narrative has the feel a Lovecraftian novel, it’s claimed that it’s actually inspired by Arthur Machen’s work. 

The story is set in the familiar Kingeascian surreal world of Castle Rock, Maine. The story focuses primarily upon two key characters, Johnny Bonsaint and N. Johnny is a Psychiatrist and his client N is a 48 years old divorcee with children and a partner in a large accounting firm.

The account opens with a letter from Johnny’s sister Shelia Bonsaint Laclaire who discovered a manuscript in her brothers affects following his suicide. The case file holds a warning penned on it, to burn it. She foolishly ignores the instructions. Disturbed by the contents of the file, she enlists the assistance of Charlie, a distant family friend and associate from her youth. She asks him to read it and she gives him permission to burn the document should he feel it necessary. With the stage now set, the case file is revealed and what it contains is nothing short of nightmare fuel.

What follows is the account contained within the case file of a series of consultations by Doctor Bonsaint with his client N. The doctor initially concludes a simple case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and a mild case of insomnia causing sleep deprivation. The doctor also senses something else, but he isn’t sure of the cause.   

Over the next few sessions, N reveals that he has repeatedly visited a location he calls Ackerman’s Field. In the first instance to photograph the beautiful location. It’s revealed that the standing stones have influenced him and exasperated his OCD symptoms. Thus, propelling him into an uncontrolled counting behavior, the outward manifestation of his anxiety disorder.

What follows could be considered a dive into the esoteric and abstract concepts of a Cosmic Monster verse. If this were not bad enough, what follows is far worse. King masterfully leads the reader little-by-little, teasing, tantalizing, and building the tension piece-meal until you are as engaged as the characters.


N is the best King Novella you never heard of. I love it that Castle Rock is back in the mix again. N is an ideal read for anyone in a hurry or on the commute. It is intriguing, compelling, and dark. N is a slow burner that captures your attention and then slowly reels you into the horror universe. Yet, another winner from the stable of Stephen King.

The 112 pages shouldn’t take you much more than two hours and twenty minutes to read. The audiobook is about two hours and seventeen minutes. If you haven’t heard the audiobook version, it is made PHENOMENAL through the spoken talents of Denis O’Hare et. al.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.




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