Needful Things

Needful Things

Leland Gaunt opens a new shop in Castle Rock called Needful Things. Anyone who enters his store finds the object of his or her lifelong dreams and desires: a prized baseball card, a healing amulet. In addition to a token payment, Gaunt requests that each person perform a little "deed," usually a seemingly innocent prank played on someone else from town. These practical jok...

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Title:Needful Things
Author:Stephen King
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Edition Language:English

Needful Things Reviews

  • Bradley

    With this tome of Stephen King small town horror, I'm constantly amazed that I had missed picking this up and geeking out over it when it first came out.

    I'm certain that I would have. It has all the things I'd been learning to geek out about with his general horror universe, including Cthulhu references, homages to his previous works including events and characters, all of them strung up as if on a map of homicide victims on a perp board, and of course, Castle Rock, itself.

    Castle Rock Entertainm

    With this tome of Stephen King small town horror, I'm constantly amazed that I had missed picking this up and geeking out over it when it first came out.

    I'm certain that I would have. It has all the things I'd been learning to geek out about with his general horror universe, including Cthulhu references, homages to his previous works including events and characters, all of them strung up as if on a map of homicide victims on a perp board, and of course, Castle Rock, itself.

    Castle Rock Entertainment, indeed. This is the grand blowout of the town, with evil creeping in and changing all of its residents from a patina of middle-class respectability and Rockwellian charm into roving bands of gleeful murderers with very dark hearts.

    And can we really blame it entirely upon Antique Madness? Roadshow Antiques? That equally weird craze of the early 90's, turned EVIL? Or was it just Mr. Gaunt, aka (Flagg, maybe?) stirring up loads of crap? Nah, it's just the greed and pride of humanity, stoked in just the right way, and that's what Stephen King is really known for.

    His supernatural aspects are generally underplayed and always in direct support of deep characterizations, of twisting flawed people into even more atrocious examples of humanity, with usually only a few semi-heroic survivors at the end that *sometimes* manage to make it through the fire.

    This novel is a shining example of all this, taking all the best simmering-pot boil-over of 'Salem's Lot, the twisted madness of Tommyknockers, and throwing in an epic battle of two older ladies eviscerating each other in broad daylight on the street. :)

    Truly a charming novel. :)

  • Gregor Xane

    Mr. King likes to tell stories about people getting trapped. He's got one about a guy trapped in a bedroom. He's got a whole bunch of these stories, really. He's got people trapped inside a car, in a gas station, a classroom, a grocery store, a hotel, on an island, a city under a giant force field. I'm pretty sure he's got one about a lady handcuffed to a bed for the whole book. I'm just going from memory here. He's probably got a lot more.

    In

    , the entire town of Castle Rock is tra

    Mr. King likes to tell stories about people getting trapped. He's got one about a guy trapped in a bedroom. He's got a whole bunch of these stories, really. He's got people trapped inside a car, in a gas station, a classroom, a grocery store, a hotel, on an island, a city under a giant force field. I'm pretty sure he's got one about a lady handcuffed to a bed for the whole book. I'm just going from memory here. He's probably got a lot more.

    In

    , the entire town of Castle Rock is trapped by their possessions. Its citizens are punished mercilessly for 700+ pages with some special brand of evil that feeds off the sin of imbuing bric-à-brac with sentimental value.

    Admittedly, I'm oversimplifying the plot of this book quite a bit. But

    is just a morality tale at its core, a boldfaced warning about materialism. The message of the book seems to boil down to something we all heard as kids, mom saying that you don't

    those roller skates, you just

    them.

    But to say that this is

    a simple morality tale really does this book a disservice. It's got all the things I like in a King book: suspense, action, gore, folksy humor (the cruel and the crude varieties), characters you can identify with, protagonists you care about, insane people and perverts, monsters and great big explosions. Most importantly, it's got a great villain. Our bad guy, Leland Gaunt, isn't subtle, he chews up the scenery at every turn, but he's exactly what this novel calls for. Done well (and King does them very well), comic book villains are the best kind. All right, maybe just the most fun to read about.

    And, yes, this book had some of the Stephen King things I don't like so much. I feel sometimes King is writing down to his characters, like he'll create a character just for the sake of mockery. Lester Pratt, the goody two-shoes, Christian 'boy scout' character in this book is a prime example. I would be willing to bet that no one ever--no matter how repressed and/or brainwashed, sheltered, or close-minded--ever, ever had an internal monologue that's featured the celebratory phrase "rooty toot toot"

    while thinking about the prospect of getting some pussy.

    King also has a tendency to veer into some rather cloying, almost treacly, Garrison Keillor territory, and in this book the opening and closing are perhaps the most nauseating examples of this that I've personally encountered.

    And then, like with many of King's novels, we have the borderline

    ending.

    Now, I know what you're thinking:

    But, you see, the thing is, Stephen King is sort of like the President of the United States of America. (Bear with me here.) The people you hear bitching about the President the most, the people who are the hardest on him, seem to always be the very same people who voted him into office. I've read over thirty books by Stephen King. So, in my mind, that pretty much means I voted that son-of-a-bitch into office over

    I'll say what I want.

    And now you're probably asking,

    No question.

  • Leo .

    What a fantastic book by the great man. Needful things is a great book. A shop owner who gives everybody what they want for a price. Soon the whole town is in chaos and at each others throats. Great concept and well worth the read. The film is great too. Max Von Sydow is amazing as the character Leland Gaunt🐯👍

    I see a moral to this story. How people covet the things they so desire and will do almost anything to get it. Even if it is out of reach people will covet. Result to murder. Cain and Able

    What a fantastic book by the great man. Needful things is a great book. A shop owner who gives everybody what they want for a price. Soon the whole town is in chaos and at each others throats. Great concept and well worth the read. The film is great too. Max Von Sydow is amazing as the character Leland Gaunt🐯👍

    I see a moral to this story. How people covet the things they so desire and will do almost anything to get it. Even if it is out of reach people will covet. Result to murder. Cain and Able springs to mind. This selfish attitude that humanity has come to. Striving to get to the top and step on many to get there.

    The Black Friday day when hundreds or thousands of people queue outside a department store waiting for it to open. Some even camp outside for days! Just so they can get their hands on the latest TV for a knock down price. People trampling over each other and fighting over merchandise.

    This book epitomizes the greed, envy, ambition and downright stupidity that us, as human beings, have come too. The temptation. The lure. The deceit.

    What a crazy Profitable; I say that with my tongue in my cheek for only the top profits; paradigm we live in.👍🐯

  • Edward  Lorn

    Some authors write about king slayers. Others write about serial killers. Stephen King? He writes about fuckers capable of leveling entire towns. Whether those responsible are aliens or devils, it doesn't matter. The ride is usually a fun one.

    is no different. It is, however, the epitome of a bloated Stephen King novel. There are entire characters herein that serve zero purpose. George T. Nelson and Frank Jewett's stories could have been left out. Ace Merrill is another pointless

    Some authors write about king slayers. Others write about serial killers. Stephen King? He writes about fuckers capable of leveling entire towns. Whether those responsible are aliens or devils, it doesn't matter. The ride is usually a fun one.

    is no different. It is, however, the epitome of a bloated Stephen King novel. There are entire characters herein that serve zero purpose. George T. Nelson and Frank Jewett's stories could have been left out. Ace Merrill is another pointless character. I simply do not see what he added to the proceedings. I never understood why Buster couldn't do everything by himself. Even when those two split up, they're still only across the street from one another. Even the movie version cut Ace and nobody cared. I theorize that Ace was a loose end for King, the bad guy that got away, so he felt the urge to give the hood a proper send off. Insert Ace in

    . Problem solved.

    Now I know what you're thinking. "Doesn't sound like you enjoyed this one, E." Well, that's not entirely true. Yeah, I think certain characters are useless and some scenes are pointless, but I dig this book quite a bit. King always impresses me with how he manages to create entire fictional towns populated with such true-to-life personalities and make it seem so fucking effortless. At this point in his career (1991), King had killed two small towns and crippled another three: 'Salem's Lot was sucked dry; Chamberlain was never the same after Carrie White; Derry died a special kind of death but refused to go away completely; Haven would be off-limits for decades; and Castle Rock had one bombastic enima. I remain in awe of that fact. Think about that. In less than fifteen years, one author populated and then ravaged five small towns. And we loved every minute of it.

    I think several things make readers ignore the bloat in

    . Cora and Myra's Elvis Presley fascination is awfully hilarious, as well as some of the shenanigans other characters get into. The beshitted picture of one townie's mother had me in tears, I was laughing so hard. Buster was blissfully insane, and Nettie and Wilma's fight scene is one of the most gruesome in all of horror literature. This novel is jampacked with awesome occurrences, and that makes the bloat feel worth it. Even the uber goofy ending can be ignored because the rest of the book is... well, it's just a shitload of fun.

    Obvious Tie-ins:

    Hidden Gems:

    Gaunt refers to the items in his shop as "gray things", which supports my theory that all of King's works can be tied back to the Dark Tower series by way of

    or

    . I believe all of King's supernatural villains, all of his monsters, belong to the race of Old Ones known as the Prim. But more on that in my

    post coming in April.

    Notable Names:

    Pop Merrill

    Ace Merrill

    Evvie Chalmers (I love how this woman is in five different King books, but is never on-camera, as it were)

    George Bannerman

    Thad Beaumont

    In summation: It's not the best book King has ever written, but it's far, far,

    from his worst.

    is a favorite for many King fans, and I understand why. I simply think he could have used fewer characters to the same end. Well worth a read, whether you're a King fan or not. But, be forewarned. Whole sections of this book make no sense unless you've read

    .

  • Carol

  • Dan Schwent

    A store has opened in the Maine town of Castle Rock, a store selling objects a person most desires, at a price the buyer can afford. But are the goods worth the cost? Can Sheriff Alan Pangborn get to the bottom of Leland Gaunt and his Needful Things before he falls prey to the madness that's gripping the town?

    In what originally was intended to be its final appearance, Castle Rock goes out with a bang in this Stephen King tome.

    It reads like a love letter to Castle Rock at times. I caught referen

    A store has opened in the Maine town of Castle Rock, a store selling objects a person most desires, at a price the buyer can afford. But are the goods worth the cost? Can Sheriff Alan Pangborn get to the bottom of Leland Gaunt and his Needful Things before he falls prey to the madness that's gripping the town?

    In what originally was intended to be its final appearance, Castle Rock goes out with a bang in this Stephen King tome.

    It reads like a love letter to Castle Rock at times. I caught references to The Dark Half, Cujo, Sun Dog, The Body, and I think Cycle of the Werewolf. Ace Merrill and Alan Pangborn are the only characters I remember from other books but I'm sure there were probably others.

    The story starts off slow as, one by one, the citizens of Castle Rock fall prey to Leland Gaunt's charms, buying his trinkets for whatever cash they have on them and doing pranks for him. These pranks are as custom tailored to the victim as the trinkets he sells and soon the denizens of Castle Rock are fuming at one another. Once things escalate to the point of violence, there's no turning back, making Needful Things very hard to put down for such a heavy book.

    There's not a lot more I can tell without giving things away. Alan Pangborn could have been a Gunslinger in another life and his relationship with Polly was pretty well done. Ace Merrill was a world class douche and fell into the #2 bad guy role pretty well. I thought Needful Things took the gossip and cattiness that's a staple of small town life and turned the dial up until it broke off.

    Things I'm still pondering:

    - Was the spider that appeared near the end a relative of the spider from It, only feeding on pain instead of fear?

    - Are Leland Gaunt and Randall Flag the same person?

    - What happened to Castle Rock after the conflagration at the end?

    Needful Things is like cooking a pot roast in a crock pot. It starts out slow, begins to simmer, and is a churning cauldron of deliciousness by the end. Four out of five stars.

  • Jeff

    As Jeff turned to go into Needful Things, he bumped into a woman wearing a

    determined expression, who was hurrying out the door, clutching a stuffed warthog. Entering the store, he was greeted by a tinkling bell and what appeared to be the shop owner, walking toward him with an outstretched hand. Jeff’s first instinct was to back away in revulsion, but he extended his hand and felt a wave of nausea sweep over him.

    “I’m Leland Gaunt and welcome to my humble establishment. I’ve just opened to

    As Jeff turned to go into Needful Things, he bumped into a woman wearing a

    determined expression, who was hurrying out the door, clutching a stuffed warthog. Entering the store, he was greeted by a tinkling bell and what appeared to be the shop owner, walking toward him with an outstretched hand. Jeff’s first instinct was to back away in revulsion, but he extended his hand and felt a wave of nausea sweep over him.

    “I’m Leland Gaunt and welcome to my humble establishment. I’ve just opened today and I haven’t gotten all my goods unpacked, but you’re welcome to look around.”

    Gaunt had the strangest shade of green eyes that Jeff had ever seen. It was as if Jeff was staring into a bowl of spinach.

    As Jeff walked around the store he noticed that, no matter where he turned his head, Mr. Gaunt never left his peripheral vision.

    Looking at a glass case, Jeff noticed a paper with writing. It was the cleverest, best written, funniest review he had ever read. And it was a review of the book he was currently reading. Why if Jeff put this out on Goodreads, he’d get thousands of “likes”. Thousands.

    Gaunt appeared over his left shoulder. “That is something, isn’t it? I just got that in today.”

    Jeff felt he had to have it. Maybe tens of thousands of likes. “It is pretty good. How much do you want for it?”

    Gaunt smiled. His teeth reminded Jeff of gravestones. “Well, how much money do you have?”

    How much money do I have? Jeff checked his wallet. “Only four dollars.”

    Gaunt gave him his best shark-like smile and said, “What a coincidence, that’s what I’m selling it for.”

    As Gaunt pulled it out of the case, Jeff could have sworn the page was a shopping list, but once Gaunt handed it over, he saw it was his precious review. The greatest review he had ever read.

    “By the way Jeff, (Jeff didn’t remember telling Gaunt his name), I’d like you to play a small prank on someone…"

  • Rebecca McNutt

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is the basic premise of

    , one of the strangest Stephen King books I've ever read starring a really well-developed antagonist and a great balance of horror and fantasy. The story seems simple enough, a typical town sheriff pitted against Leland Gaunt, the mysterious and creepy owner of a shop that gives the citizens of Castle Rock anything they want for no price at all - but of course,

    has a price, and the peop

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is the basic premise of

    , one of the strangest Stephen King books I've ever read starring a really well-developed antagonist and a great balance of horror and fantasy. The story seems simple enough, a typical town sheriff pitted against Leland Gaunt, the mysterious and creepy owner of a shop that gives the citizens of Castle Rock anything they want for no price at all - but of course,

    has a price, and the people who don't ask why are left to regret it later. As a strange bout of madness grips the town and things start to get dangerous, the book takes a very sinister turn.

    If you've ever watched the 1990's show

    's episode featuring a sinister investor who turns a small town shop into a hub of madness for desperate shoppers, or if you've ever watched

    , you'll definitely like the kind of spooky store atmosphere

    casts out. Stephen King crafts brilliant characters as usual, and though the Maine setting is a bit old considering it's chosen for almost all his books, the plot itself and the surprising events which unfold are definitely worth it.

  • Anne

    As always with King, this was a very entertaining and suspenseful read the whole way through. However, somehow I just didn't connect as much to the characters as I usually do, which is why I cannot bring myself to give the full five stars. The plot itself was super interesting and I loved all the mysterious things that happened. There is also no shortage on gruesome scenes, so reading this during the spooky October time was definitely the right decision.

    However, as I mention

    As always with King, this was a very entertaining and suspenseful read the whole way through. However, somehow I just didn't connect as much to the characters as I usually do, which is why I cannot bring myself to give the full five stars. The plot itself was super interesting and I loved all the mysterious things that happened. There is also no shortage on gruesome scenes, so reading this during the spooky October time was definitely the right decision.

    However, as I mentioned, the characters just didn't quite appeal to me this time around. I found them interesting for the time being, but none of them truly stuck in my mind for long (which is usually the case whenever I read a book by King).

    I'm someone who finds good characters more important than an exciting plot, so the fact that I didn't feel close to the characters bothered me a lot. If you're someone who cares more about a plot, I'm sure you will love this book, because the story on its own is unique and quite clever.

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