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.
  • 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 HP 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.

  • Axes at School: Bob planned a school shooting when he was younger with his friend Brian.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
  • Dark Secret: First Bob's then Darcy's.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Bob is a vicious serial killer, but he was nothing but nice to his wife and children.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bob is rather charming and a pillar of the community.
  • Man Bites Man: Bob enjoys biting his victims.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Darcy discovers that her husband has a collection of extremely dark sadomasochistic magazines.
  • 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.
  • 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, although that's put into doubt when it's revealed that he had bitten off the boy's penis.