Literature: Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of novellas written by Stephen King that all deal with the themes of vengeance and retribution.

The novellas in chronological order:


A man convinces his son to help him in murdering his wife after she proposes moving off the family homestead.

  • Anti-Villain: Henry and possibly Wilfred by the end.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The entire story is the written confession of its protagonist.
  • Darker and Edgier: Probably one of King's bleakest works. It starts off grim and only gets worse.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Everything that can go wrong does.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Wilfred thinks he has the plan to murder his wife and dispose of her all thought out, but when things start to go wrong he realizes how many factors he didn't take into account and how half-assed his plan actually was.
  • Disposing of a Body: Arlette is dumped in a well.
  • Driven to Suicide: Henry kills himself after Shannon dies.
    • The manuscript Wilfred writes concludes as he is attacked by the rats that have followed him and proceed to bite and tear at his body before he can finish himself off. When the police investigate his room later on, they find Wilfred dead of apparently self-inflicted bite wounds, suggesting a Through the Eyes of Madness account.
  • Finagle's Law
  • From Bad to Worse: Oh yes.
  • Glasgow Grin: Wilfred accidentally gives this to his wife when he kills her.
  • The Great Depression: Wilfred states that for the farmers it started in 1923.
  • Insane Troll Logic / Protagonist-Centered Morality: Wilfred uses this to explain how murdering someone is an act of good. To elaborate, they're murdering the wife because, in his eyes, she's a terrible person and a sinner. Thus, by killing her before she can redeem herself, it gets her into Heaven automatically because she was never given the chance.
  • Outlaw Couple: Henry and Shannon becomes this.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Wilfred manipulates Henry into helping him murder Arlette so that he can keep his land from being sold. He gets to keep the land, but it comes at a heavy cost when Henry knocks up Shannon and runs off, eventually resulting in both their deaths. Soon, nature seems to throw onto his misfortune, with a rat that attacks one of his cows, his livestock gradually being killed by the bad weather, and Wilfred losing one hand to amputation to prevent gangrene from a savage rat bite. In the end, he even questions if it was really worth it.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Henry was on the way to becoming this.
  • Swarm of Rats: And how.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
  • Shout-Out: To H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls".
  • Teen Pregnancy: Wilfred's son gets the neighbor's daughter pregnant. It doesn't go well. For anyone.
  • Together in Death: Henry and Shannon.
  • Trauma Conga Line
  • Unreliable Narrator: Perhaps, given some hints that portions of the narrative could be Through the Eyes of Madness.
  • Villain Protagonist

Big Driver

After being violated and left for dead, a mystery writer uses her detective skills and plots her revenge.

Fair Extension

A man makes a Deal with the Devil to exchange his misery with his friend's good luck.

  • Affably Evil: George Elvid is very friendly for the Devil
    • Though he becomes much less affable when he ends his business with Streeter and becomes anxious to make tracks.
  • Asshole Victim: Played with. The reader is made to hate Tom Goodhugh (he stole Dave's girlfriend, got rich off an idea that Dave helped implement, etc), but it's hard not to feel sorry for him when his life turns to shit.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Streeter enjoys watching the horrible things that happen to Tom Goodhough's family. Meanwhile, he becomes more and more prosperous and happy. In the end, looking at stars, he makes a wish - for more.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Of the darkest sort.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Devil is clearly disgusted with Streeter.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Dave Streeter's life finally turns around at the expense of his friend's.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The actual reason for Streeter's hatred toward Tom.
  • Karma Houdini: Dave Streeter.
  • Louis Cypher: George Elvid.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Tom Goodhugh's life after Dave's deal.
  • Villain Protagonist: By the end of the story Streeter has become one.

A Good Marriage

A middle-aged wife discovers that her husband is hiding a dark secret.

  • Alone with the Psycho: Played with. Darcy spends time alone with Bob after discovering his secret, and he only acts gentle to her. But this is even creepier, and Darcy spends a lot of time wondering if he'd murder her if she acted against him.
  • Axes at School: Bob planned a school shooting when he was younger with his friend Brian, several decades before Columbine.
  • Beneath the Mask: The one of the major points of the story is how loved ones can hide secrets. The fury on Bob's face strips the mask away further, showing that he never loved Darcy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: A major reason Darcy is reluctant to go to the police: everyone would presume she knew about the murders.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Bob is prepared to the point of paranoia, which is why he lasted decades without being caught. He always places his box of trophies in exactly the same place, and uses a sliver of almost invisible tape to see if its been opened.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Beadie sends taunting messages to the police, where Bob deliberately misspells to hide his intelligence.
  • Dark Secret: First Bob's then Darcy's.
  • Dead TV Remote Gag: When Darcy's looking for batteries for hers, she finds a lot more than she intended....
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Darcy avenges Beadie's victims and finds a sense of closure when Holt Ramsey assures her she did the right thing.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Bob is a vicious serial killer, but he was nothing but nice to his wife and children. The look in his eye before Darcy pushes him implies that even this love is faked though.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bob is rather charming and a pillar of the community.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Bob states that Brian Delaney infected him with misogynistic and violent ideas, and his voice drives him to kill. Darcy believes this is simply a self-justification.
  • Karmic Death: Bob dies a horrific death, smothered after having his neck, arms and back broken.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Darcy gets Bob drunk, then pushes him down the stairs so it looks like a drunken fall. After ringing for an ambulance as a delay would look suspicious, she smothers him.
  • Man Bites Man: Bob enjoys biting his victims.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Darcy discovers that her husband has a collection of extremely dark sadomasochistic magazines.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: When Darcy discovers Bob's secret, he often acts like a teenager with severe personality issues.
  • Retired Badass: 74 year old Holt Ramsey has a reputation for solving difficult crimes with his hunches, is the one cop who came close to catching Beadie, and visits Darcy to confirm his suspicions. He retires to Florida to enjoy his last few months after the story.
  • The Reveal: Aside from Darcy's discovery that Bob is Beadie, two later moments greatly undermine most of what Bob says to Darcy in his confession: his look of hate after she tries to kill him, and Holt revealing that BD bit off his boy victim's penis.
  • Serial Killer: Bob Anderson, a.k.a Beadie.
  • Significant Monogram: Bob's serial killer alias 'Beadie' was derived from his childhood friend Brian Delahanty's initials. Bob believes that Brian 'infected' him.
  • Smug Snake: Bob believed that he was so careful and smart that the police were nowhere near catching him, but Holt Ramsey's hunch might have led to an arrest eventually.
  • Straw Misogynist: How Bob justifies his crime to himself. He believes a delusion that many women he meet are sluts who are trying to tempt him, when in fact they are doing normal things or even acting creeped out. He then believes that they are sexually teasing him, so they deserve to die.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: King was in part inspired by the BTK killer, particularly after the killer's wife received backlash for claiming to have no knowledge of her husband's crimes.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While Bob usually just killed women, he also at one point killed one of their children. He later tells his wife that it was an accident, saying that he had to do it once the child witnessed him murdering his mother. Although that's put into doubt when it's revealed that he had bitten off the boy's penis.

Under the Weather.

This is an additional short story included in some editions of the book, after the Afterword. A man named Brad Franklin goes through his day while his wife Ellen stays in bed because she has bronchitis. Or so we are led to believe.

  • Five Stages of Grief: Brad is firmly in stage 1, Denial, and it doesnít look like he will get out of it soon
  • Foreshadowing: in a flashback we learn that, while they were on a plane to The Bahamaís, Brad thought for a moment that Ellen had died while in fact she was just sleeping, and when he told about this later, he promised he would never accept her death, but just use his imagination to keep her alive. By the end of the story, we find out that Ellen has died and Brad is doing exactly what he promised.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Ellen learned some years ago that she cannot conceive a child, which is one of the darkest pages in her and Bradís marriage.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Brad is keeping everybody in the dark about what happened to Ellen, and is most of all fooling himself.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Brad just canít accept that his wife has died at least a week prior to the start of the story. He keeps her corpse in their apartment, and goes out of his way to convince himself that she is just sleeping a lot because she has a bout of bronchitis, and that the foul smell everybody complains about (and which he pretends not to notice) must be from a dead rat in the neighboring apartment