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Holly Gibney #2

If It Bleeds

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2020)
If it Bleeds is a collection of four new novellas —Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds— each pulling readers into intriguing and frightening places.

A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider.

News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.

Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realizes there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins 'If It Bleeds' , a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case.

Dancing alongside are three more long stories - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat' .

The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

447 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 21, 2020

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About the author

Stephen King

2,690 books819k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,175 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,201 reviews40.7k followers
October 18, 2021
I missed to read Stephen King’s stories a lot! You may know that most of his short stories including Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, The Body from “Different Season”, Mist from “Skeleton Crew”, Lawnmower Man, Children of the Corn from “Graveyard Shift”, 1408 from ”Everything’s Eventual” adapted into successful movie scripts. ( Even though only good thing about Lawnmower Man seeing his cameo as a priest!)

This time: We luckily have four fantastic stories in our hands and best part is one of them belongs to Holly Gibney! After Mercedes Man trilogy and Outsiders, I already missed the character and welcomed her with open arms.

But don’t worry, all those stories are also unique, mysterious, entertaining and it actually helped me get rid of my frustration after I read “Institution” ( I know what you’re thinking! I already gave four stars to that book but frustration part comes from different writing style. When you resume reading same author’s books nearly 3 decade, you may sense something is not right and the words in the book won’t get clicked with your expectations and your literature taste)

This book brings back the joy of reading old school King stories and stop thinking about you’re just a prisoner in your house and living in a mad mad world.

It gave me so much fun and reminded me of my emotions when I was a small kid and watched “Back to the future” for the first time: mesmerized, enchanted and purely joyous and happy. Every time, when I read a new King’s book written by his regular sarcastic, witty, dark, awkwardly absurd tone with detailed and differentiated characterization, I turned into that small girl playing hooky, hiding under blankets, drinking Mexican Coke and devouring each page, barely breathing- right now I’m the same, only difference is I’m consuming alcohol and drinking from bottle!

Let’s take a close look to the stories:

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: ****stars
The story is narrated by little Craig, living with his dad, got attention of rich and old billionaire Mr. Harrigan who mysteriously moved to the town and listened to his bible reading at the church offers him a job at his house including watering plants, reading him books, dusting his silver antiques. He pays him hourly and sends him postcards, scratch lottery tickets at holidays which defined as cheapster by his father (because Mr. Harrigan plays with billions and only pays $5 for hour.) Till one day, he won nearly half million dollars from scratch lottery ticket! (Yes! The universe rewarded young guy in a different way!) And Craig shows his appreciation by purchasing Mr. Harrigan an Iphone 4 which made him reluctant to accept at first but Craig advertised the product wisely and made the businessman addicted by showing how to read business news daily and track Dow Jones index to decide his next investment steps.

Iphones helped them form a special and interestingly immortal relationship because after Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig hides the phone in his coffin and get buried with him. He kept calling Mr. Harrigan, listening his voicemail message (Surprisingly for years the phone never got out of charge and when Craig tells a problem to Mr. Harrigan like a school bully kicked the shit out of him and he leaves a message about the incident, next day he finds out his bully is dead! A creepy, emotional, Amazing Stories meets Twilight Zone story!

“Life of Chuck”- ***** stars

The story begins with the end of the world and told backwards with three acts including three important parts of Chuck Krantz. At the apocalyptic world shattered with earthquakes, collapse of networks and communication sources, billboards emblazoned with an eerie message: “39 great years! Thanks Chuck!” Before everything gets weirder at each page when you reach to the other act and learn more about Chuck’s back story, you get more surprised his connection with the universe’s collapsing. Especially his childhood life and living with grandparents, prying around the house to know more about ghosts ends with twisty revelation connecting with the beginning of the story. It was brilliant.

If It Bleeds- ***** stars

The story starts Outsiders’ detective Ralph Anderson’s returning to his house after family holiday and finding the envelope sent by Holly Gibney. When he opens the envelope he finds a drive named “If it bleeds” including audio spectrograms and a folder containing photographs. Holly wrote a note tells him: “If I do die, you choose to continue what I’ve started please be careful. You have a wife and son!”

I’m not gonna give much details but I can only say that large explosion at a middle school in Pineborough, Pennsylvania resulted numerous casualties, many of children and teachers. Holly realizes another outsider, a grief vampire feeding itself by consuming people’s pain and sadness may be involved with the incident and she will do whatever it takes to hunt him alone even though it means this will be her last task!

This is the best story of the book and I wish we had more Holly but don’t worry, I think she will have her own novel sooner. I can feel it.

Rat- **** stars

A passionate writer Drew Larson got attention of literature world with his short story but after that, his writing attempts end with psychical and mental breakdowns. He keeps his job as academician for the sake of his marriage. But now he wants to give another try and convinces his wife to work on his new project at her father’s isolated cabin in the woods. (From the beginning you may sense something really spooky will come out, right?) As he starts his assignment to writer a western thriller (I wish he shared the plot with someone instead of keeping himself so somebody may have stopped him!)

The story gets eerier as Drew makes a haunted bargain with a rat for accomplishing his plan to create a fantastic novel. But… Yes… It is time for me to shut up and stop giving more details!

Overall: I enjoyed the stories. I had quality time with the author’s brilliant story telling skills. Those are the stories I’ve missed so long! I’m rounding up 4.5 stars to 5! I highly recommend it to not only my one and only KING lovers but also to the well written thriller and fiction lovers as well.

Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books911 followers
May 3, 2020
1. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

This opening novella rocked my world. With signature Stephen King finesse, he introduces characters so vivid they could be standing next to you. I’m particularly impressed by his ability to deliver the millennial youth experience as effectively as he writes about being a boomer in his many other books. Then, when you least expect it, he scares the shit out of you. It’s better not knowing anything going in, so I won’t give away details. I shouldn’t even tell you it’s scary, but I guess it’s Stephen King so that’s not a surprise. Even though technically the plot has been done before (at least a couple times by Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone) it feels fresh here because of the rich characters and updated tech. A perfect 5/5 for me.

2. The Life of Chuck

Alas this novella is also signature Stephen King, but more exemplary of his occasional weakness—an outstanding setup let down by a disappointing conclusion. The opening pages are soaked in intrigue and promises what could be a thrill ride as dramatic as “The Mist.” But I think King stumped himself with the mystery and couldn’t figure out how to have it make sense. He puts up a decent effort, but the explanation is too uneven compared to the blockbuster opening. 3/5.

3. If It Bleeds

The further adventures of Holly Gibney and a direct sequel to The Outsider. There's enough references to key events that I wouldn't recommend reading it as a stand alone. It also refers to the entire Mr. Mercedes trilogy, so ideally you're reading it at Book #5--or perhaps #4.5 if the series continues.

King's flavor of cat-and-mouse crime mystery with supernatural elements has been a winning formula for me from the beginning. I don't quite get his obsession with Holly, but I like what she does and the dangerous situations she gets herself into. This new mystery is fully engaging with an edge-of-your-seat climax.

Most people would consider If It Bleeds alone a full-length novel, but I suppose it is novella-length by Stephen King standards. The plot doesn't involve particularly fresh experiences for Holly either, so that's probably why they felt it didn't deserve a celebrated release all unto itself. Still, though, it's a suspenseful ride that shouldn't be missed if you're all caught up on the series. 4/5.

4. Rat

At first it seems like a mashup of The Shining and The Stand, which would've been super awesome because that's basically how I feel right now, but then it takes a sharp turn toward Richard Matheson territory and his "Button, Button." A solid creeper overall despite being two halves and not quite a whole. Reminds me of King's younger days and the stories that appeared in Night Shift or Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Subtle references cleverly tie-in the three previous novellas. Not enduring by any means, but top notch entertainment. 4/5.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,813 followers
May 15, 2023
1. Mr. Harrigan's Phone: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
2. The Life of Chuck: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
3. If It Bleeds: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
4. Rat: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

That's how you do, Sai King!

If It Bleeds is easily one of the most well-rounded collections I have ever read.

This was well worth the wait. Releasing at the perfect time too, considering the themes captured within these haunting tales.

I could pretend I will write more at some point, but y'all know that's...





...receives book recommendation...

Is this for real?
This seems too good to be true?
Does the universe love me this much?

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
795 reviews3,621 followers
May 29, 2023
Again, King is reflecting about life, work, and death in 2 of the stories, something he is already dealing with in The Bazaar of bad dreams, a topic sadly coming irreversibly coming closer to everyone with each breath and second, each book read a flip closer to death, each heartbeat a metronome leading to and causing its self-destruction, eating away oneself to live. Damned telomeres.

It made me wonder why so few authors don´t start dealing with the inevitable at a certain age, why they don´t integrate their wisdom and talent in descriptions of how to deal with the big leveler.

Harrigan's Phone
Smartphones had already been a theme in King´s novel Cell and using everyday objects as Chekhovs and symbols is one of his favorite tropes, often surrounding it with character development influenced or inspired by possessed, obsessed, mundane, necromancing, magic,… objects, artifacts, or furniture. What happens after death is added to the recipe and voila, another unique combination of well known story elements is creeping out of the vault, assisted by intergenerational friendship and the good old question of what stays if one is gone, what ways metaphysical psi ectoplasmic manifestations might follow.

The life of Chuck
Who ordered the Merlin Sickness, hard to wreck such a plot device, but backwards storytelling is a beast all of its own. What lies closer than reminiscing and philosophizing about the fictional option of reverse living, replay dying, or simply getting younger until hopefully not dying as a wet spot, but changing direction again at, let´s say, early childhood, best avoiding the trauma button one already knows is coming closer in the future, past, whatever.
It could have had much more potential, but just like Cujo, Cell, and some other examples, it shows that King tends to not seek help from script doctors and plot nurses and prefers to ruin the one or other himself by not thinking the whole thing through long enough. Another trademark, starting very strong, using perfect characterization, and losing control over logic and suspension of disbelief because of a lack of fine plotting and editing, is big here too. Not bad, but the only 4 star in this brilliant collection.

If it bleeds
A Mr. Mercedes inspired interlude, starring Holly Gibney and explosions. I don´t get the dispute surrounding Mr Mercedes and this character and don´t remember (or don´t know about) a similar debate about another of King´s protagonists. It may have to do with the fact that the whole Mr Mercedes series was a kind of new land for King too, who obviously had some problems writing in the crime, murder, suspense, psychothriller genre with some more plot than character driven episodes, but what about this is poor Holly´s fault? I also felt that there is something strange going around with the German limousine but better weird evolution than writer´s stagnation or even degeneration.

Although creative incestual backlash has a magic all of its own and auto self cannibalizing is an often seen hobby, but that´s depending on highly individual preferences, both for readers and writers or however this and nastier metaphors should be arranged. Subjectively, as I am no friend of thriller plots just focused on playing hide and seek without much extra worldbuilding and horror or fantasy elements, I prefer his novels without this extra red line and investigation, but many may find their favorite psychothriller genre spiced with delicious characterization. It´s already long, could have been made a standalone novel instead, strong female lead characters unite!

Reflecting on the art of writing, the power of fantasy, himself, and the creative process itself is an often seen element in The Dark Tower, Love, Shining, … After reading, I imagined myself getting a bit even weirder than usual while working, writing, or editing very early in the morning or late at night, depending on the conception of the caffeine overdose, and this truly scared the heck out of me so that I needed even more guarana to calm me down. The picture of the danger of becoming insane in the membrane is one of the most realistic and therefore terrifying imaginations. For any reason, there seems to be predisposition, some may say self made and caused predestination for introverted, creative, already eccentric,.... wait a moment... heck, damn!

Not to forget and the collateral damages for the family members of the wacky lunatic. Shut up, damn cactus, I won´t dance naked in the rain. Again. The keyboard told me about your evil plans when carbon nanotubes penetrated my fingertips to transmit the warning directly into my brain. Although I don´t completely trust the keyboard anymore since the raven crowed me that he saw ants infiltrating the laptop. I should open it and see if there are quantum entangled hell dimension portals, leaking soul eating mind parasites, inside like in my last laptop I got exchanged because of this. Crappy customer service, by the way, felt discriminated, behaved as if my comprehensive and reasonable complaint wasn´t serious. Had no balls too, seemed to be scared without any reason.

The fact that King is 72 and his legendary novella collection Different seasons has the ingenious German title Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Tod remembered me of the fact that King is immortal for me, that he will live forever, that he is enriching my life for over 2 decades, quarter century soon, now and will always stay the author who allowed escapes from reality incomparable to anyone else. A friend and helper to dozens of millions of people, King is a living legend, a prodigy made immortal by the sheer depth, appeal, and fascination of the, somewhere we still can´t go (technical, simulated, or physical) possibly real, fictional universe he created. Thank you, Mr King, you are an emperor, a god King.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
May 2, 2020
Really enjoyed stories #1 and #3, snoozed through stories #2 and #4. Middle ground 3 star rating from me! Highly recommend the audio, as the cast of narrators are a few of my favorites.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,625 reviews472 followers
May 21, 2020
Stephen King did it again and came up with a brilliant set of four stories! In "Mr Harrigan's Phone" you'll learn never to bury a mobile phone with a dead person. Why? Sometimes communication can go beyond the realms of death. "The Life of Chuck" started a bit strange, with Act III to be precise. At first I thought it might be something futuristic. But then you'll learn who Chuck Krantz really was. The whole story is a kind of chronology of death foretold. Then we come to the longest story here, "If it Bleeds". Holly Gibney (we know her from the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider) is into a new adventure. A fake mailman delivers a parcel to a school. It was explosive, many die. But who is the mysterious bomber and why is Holly following a sinister newsman named Chet Ondowsky? What is the role of Dan Bell? If you liked The Outsider you will love this novella. Please read The Outsider first to get the full gist. Phenomenal follow up to The Outsider. I do hope it isn't the last time we hear from Holly and her friends. So, now we come to the last story here, "Rats". A teacher takes a sabbatical to write his first novel. He goes to a remote cabin in the woods. Will he be able to finish his book and what about the rat? Great tale at the end. Good advise how to deal with rats. Now at the end of my review I can absolutely recommend this set of stories! They are magic and make you cry out for more Stephen King. This is Stephen King at his peak!
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
October 25, 2021
Sorry, no two-thousand-word review planned. A rare thing, I know, but I do read a few books every year that are just for reading pleasure. No note-taking. No looks at themes or motifs, imagery, or how it related to me personally. No lists of interviews, summaries of each of the contained stories, no links to interviews with the author talking about the book, no list of links to other reviews I have written of the author's work. No list of characters in the stories who might have appeared before in King family fiction. No corny jokes. No author photo.

But just in case you want to know, I have been having a crap week with sleep, which is a major factor in why I was unable to post an actual new review this week. Head hits pillow, maybe I get to sleep maybe I don’t. If I do, I am awake in anywhere from ten to ninety minutes, off to the loo, then back to bed. If I am very lucky I get back to sleep tout de suite. Not so much this week. Even with taking something pharmaceutical to help. So, if sleep will not come, even after putting on music or a podcast and trying to drift off for twenty minutes, I read. A good signal of being ready to try again is when the words on the page devolve to squiggles, eyes beginning to close on their own. So, try again. Maybe I get back to sleep, maybe not. Maybe it will be another brief nap, or a full ninety-minute sleep-cycle. Been like this for the last five days or so. But having a book at hand that I can read without taking notes, just reading, is a necessary tool in my list of things to try in this quest for rest. My failure to be able to get back to sleep has been epic this week, thus I knocked off in one week a 447 page book that normally would have taken me anywhere from 15 to 25 days of chipping away, 20-40 pps at a time. Oh, said I wasn’t gonna write about personal stuff, sorry.

But just in case you need to know, I quite enjoyed it, and very much appreciated seeing Holly Gibney in the spotlight in her first solo case, and the thematic commentary King makes on the media in that title story, and his Pinter-esque reverse-chronology of The Life of Chuck. I'd better stop there. Four long-short stories, a fast, fun satisfying read. Vintage King.

Guess now I have to pick another bedside book to help me through the seemingly relentless sleep dep. God knows I have enough of them lying around.

Publication dates
==========April 21, 2020 - hardcover
==========June 1, 2021 - trade paperback

Non-review first posted - November 13, 2020
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
January 16, 2021

”When an old man dies, a library burns.”

The billionaire, Mr. Harrigan, builds an architecturally beautiful house in the country as a place to spend his twilight years away from the bustle of the business world that made him rich. He asks a young lad by the name of Craig to come up to the house to read novels to him. Entertainment for Mr. Harrigan and an education for Craig. Of course, they talk about things as well, and it makes me think about cobbled relationships like this that will maybe ensure that, when old people die, their whole libraries of thoughts don’t die with them. On certain holidays, Harrigan buys Craig scratch tickets, and one year Craig wins several thousand dollars. As a thank you, he buys Mr. Harrigan a cell phone. ”Craig, I rarely give advice, it’s almost always a waste of breath, but today I’ll give some to you. Henry Thoreau said that we don’t own things; things own us. Every new object--whether it’s a home, a car, a television, or fancy phone like that one--is something more we must carry on our backs.”

I don’t know if Martin Cooper knew just how large an encumbrance inventing the first handheld mobile device would prove to be for humanity, but certainly, Steve Jobs understood the inherent desire people would have for mobile technology and marketed that “need” brilliantly.

Craig shows Mr. Harrigan several uses on the phone that he may find interesting, and just like the rest of us, he becomes Pavlov’s dog, punching buttons, searching for the next information/entertainment fix.

The phone becomes a central part of the story, even from beyond the grave.

This certainly isn’t one of Stephen King’s scarier stories or anywhere near his best, but when I went to bed after finishing it, I found myself smiling. King has a special knack for writing about kids, and this story sort of represents to me all the great tales I’ve experienced from the pen of Mr. King.


”The human brain is finite--no more than a sponge of tissue inside a cage of bone--but the mind within the brain is infinite. Its storage capacity is colossal, its imaginative reach beyond our ability to comprehend. I think when a man or woman dies, a whole world falls to ruin--the world that person knew and believed in. Think of that, kiddo--billions of people on earth, and each one of those billions with a world inside. The earth their minds have conceived.”

The first sign of the world going down the drain will be when the internet goes dark. Billboard signs, plane writing in the sky, and ads everywhere proclaim CHARLES KRANTZ 39 GREAT YEARS! THANKS CHUCK! With the end of the world coming in fits and starts, it is still a curious thing to see such a proclamation about someone no one seems to know. The death of a mind. The death of a world. The story starts with the end of Chuck and travels backwards, like a train in reverse, to show us the life of Chuck and the world that will be lost forever when the final neuron winks out in his brain.

This is a strange story, but profound. As I was going through my brief notes, I thought to myself, I probably need to read this one again to catch the whole of the concept that King is trying to convey to me. The story at first feels muddled, but as the pieces start to click into place, the mud settles to the bottom, and the water becomes clear enough to see.


”In a movie it could be dismissed as no more than a cool special effect, but this is real life. A ripple runs up the round middle-aged face. It starts as the chin and rises not past the mouth but through it. The nose wavers, the cheeks stretch, the eyes shimmer, the forehead contracts. Then suddenly the whole head turns to semi-transparent jelly.”

If it bleeds, it leads, and when a middle school is blown up by an act of terrorism, Holly Gibney is as devastated as everyone else. As she watches the coverage, she notices that there is something not quite right about the TV correspondent on the scene. Her suspicions feel like paranoia, but as she investigates further, she starts to understand the horror she left behind in a cave in Texas is not the only one.

Holly came to life as a character in the Bill Hodges trilogy. For me, something was really off with King’s style for that series, and I quickly abandoned it. I do intend to read The Outsider, where Holly is given a starring role. King says in the author’s note at the end of the book that he has developed a minor obsession with Holly, so I think we can expect to see her show up in future works as well. Her love of the movies and her vast DVD collection certainly endear her to me as well.

Even though I haven’t read the background books, King gives me enough of a background sketch to read this story without experiencing confusion. If anything, this story sharpened my desire to read The Outsider sooner than later.


”There had never been a novel. He had tried, but no. He had pretty much given that ambition up. The first two efforts at long-form fiction had given him problems. The last try had caused serious problems. He had burned the manuscript, and had come close to burning the house, as well.

Now, this idea, arriving complete. Arriving like a long overdue engine pulling a train of many splendid cars.”

We all love that eureka! moment when an idea crystalizes in our mind. It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be how to fix the garden arbor so the next big wind doesn’t blow it completely down or the pattern for a new quilt or the best way to fix a problem with a coworker. The idea, as it lies like a shining, beautiful beacon of hope in our mind, is a wondrous, glorious gemstone of perfection. Jonathan Franzen best expresses what happens next: ”Even the clearest part of what was in your mind gets lost in translation.”

Most wives would be at least mildly excited if their husband comes to them and says, honey...I’ve got an idea for a novel and it is all laid out in my mind like a yellow brick road. Drew’s wife has been down this road before, and every time the yellow brick road has led to OZ. Things have gone drastically wrong every time. When a short story derails, Drew will mope for a few days, but when a novel goes wrong, the train is falling from the top of a high gorge, and Drew is screaming his way all the way to the bottom. So instead of being excited about this news, she is terrified. She is made even more uneasy when Drew decides he wants to go up to his dad’s cabin to work on the novel. The peace and quiet will help him focus on his writing. Of course, there won’t be anyone to notice when things start to go wrong, and we all know, even with the best laid plans of rats and men, things are going to go wrong. ”When he looked at the screen, every word seemed wrong. Every word seemed to have a better one hiding behind it, just out of sight.”

In the course of all of this building anxiety...oh no, not again...Drew rescues a dying rat during a storm.

The rat starts talking to him.

Needless to say, when words start playing hide and seek, a writer needs to go for a long walk, but when the writer starts talking to a rat, it's probably time for him to boogie on home before the rat makes a suggestion he can’t refuse.

I was really pleasantly surprised by all four stories. They are all very different, but certainly hit on themes that are of continuing interest to me. What is important? Why do we do the things we do? How do we focus on the right things? Is justice ever really justice?

I don’t know what it is about the quarantine, but somehow Stephen King’s books seem oddly tailor-made to survive a pandemic. I will definitely be cuing up more of his books over the coming months.

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Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,515 followers
June 10, 2020
This book is a solid four stars. I’m not big on short stories or novellas, never have been. Mostly because if I drop into the fictive dream and I’m enjoying the story it ends too soon and I feel shorted. I make the exception with King. I’m still working my way through his short work. I started reading his short work with Full Dark No Stars, what a great bevy of short stories.
If It Bleeds is comprised of four novellas, the first of which is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. This one is standard fare from King, I enjoyed it. For me it was a tad predictable and not as creative as I’d come to expect from him.
The next one, all on its own, was worth the price of admission. That’s the way it goes sometimes. The Life of Chuck is excellent. It is creative not only in concept but in structure as well, a true mind bender with the comparison of the multitude of thoughts to the number of stars in the universe. For me it was stunning.
The third one, the title of the compilation, If It Bleeds, hit a sour note for me, a dud. This is the one that kept the book from five-star status. It almost felt like King was writing a new novel, lost interest, waved his magic wand and call it a novella. Part of the problem I think is that the conflict wasn’t set well enough-early enough. He didn’t catch my attention until the mole showed up which was too far into the story.
The fourth and final story, Rat is back to the standard King fare. I enjoyed it and stayed up late into the night to finish it. This is a well-used trope that King breathed new life into.
These stories are not gory and are more a haunting than horror. I recommend this one.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson Series.

Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
643 reviews4,265 followers
June 16, 2020
“I will live my life until my life runs out.”

If It Bleeds is some of King’s best work in recent years, showcasing his talent once again when it comes to the novella. In each of these novellas, King reflects upon death in some way, and he handles it so perfectly. For me, it sits firmly up there snuggled close to Different Seasons and Full Dark, No Stars.

Mr Harrigan’s Phone was simply a lot of fun! A little creepy at times and the writing just felt like old King, but with more modern topics, like technology. Maybe a little unsatisfying for me personally, but still very solid.

The Life of Chuck is the story of a man’s life told in reverse and it works so beautifully. This is the type of King story I love most of all. When he just sucker punches you with a story full of heart and emotion. I may have even shed a tear...

In If It Bleeds we get to meet up with Holly Gibney once again in a sequel to The Outsider. In some ways it feels like a rehashing of that story, but it held my attention and I really liked the idea and theory behind how the “villain” fed. However, her use of the word “poopy” did start to grate on me a little.

For some reason, I had low expectations for Rat, but it ended up being one of my favourites. King loves writing about writers - these stories can be hit or miss for me, but this one was a winner! A struggling writer in isolation is an interesting narrative to follow... see also The Shining.

I had an absolute blast with this collection. It felt like the King I know and love. He’s still got it! 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,831 followers
Want to read
June 3, 2020
Just announced! Another Holly Gibney mystery!

Note: to avoid confusion, I wrote the above on May 14, 2019. It is now released and I am reading it. Also, at the time I was not aware it was another four novella book.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,882 reviews31.2k followers
November 24, 2020
This collection has 4 novellas, which are:

Mr. Harrigan's phone - loved
The Life of Chuck - Interesting
If it Bleeds - Holly Gibney, the story of the collection
Rat - Surprising. Loved

I did a review for each of these stories and I am going to include them in the bottom of this review eventually.

There are some novels I can't stand by Stephen for various reasons, but they all still read well. I just find that I slide along reading Stephen and his novels are effortless for me to read. He knows just how to draw me in as a reader and how to give his characters so much life. I don't think it's fair to call him a horror novelist anymore because he can do so much more than horror and most of his new stuff is different. People ask me all the time why I read him and if you want to learn about characterization, then Stephen is the master, bar none.

I enjoyed all of these stories. Life of Chuck was really different, but I thought it worked and I also thought I had Rat all figured out and Stephen took that story in a 90 degree direction I didn't see coming. I love a big some story and that one had a big one. I loved Mr. Harrigan's phone. It was creepy in the best ways. Stephen is also a master of the coming of age tale. No one does a better job of that transition period of life than Stephen in my opinion.

I enjoyed all the stories here, but the best one was If it Bleeds with Holly Gibney and Holly really got to shine. She was moving that story along from start to finish. She has grown so much and I am so thrilled that she has been around for 5 stories. Outside the Dark Tower, she might be the longest running main character in the King Universe. Maybe Randall Flag has her beat. I hope she pops up now and again in the future.

I have been reading Stephen King novels for more than 25 years now. I think my senior year, so 1993 was was my first time I read him and that was Carrie. I'm on a role and I plan on reading the Institute and Revival this read if I can get them in.

He gave us some more great stories with this collection. If you aren't a horror fan, then you should give this book a try.

Mr. Harrigan's Phone Review:

I love author's notes and whatever tidbits they like to share directly with the reader. Stephen seems to have dropped constant reader, which I loved and I'm saddened by. I was hoping for a preface to constant reader from uncle Stevie, but no such luck.

Stephen grew up watching horror TV and reading horror comics. He references and Alfred Hitchcock movie, one I haven't seen, where I man is so scared of dying, he has a phone installed in his crypt. That seemed to stick with Stephen and he uses that idea to spin a story of his very own.

This is mostly about a friendship between a boy and a retired man. Craig is paid to read to this eccentric billionaire and they form a friendship. It's a lovely part of the first 3rd of the book. It's my favorite part.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would have read more if the story were expanded. It seemed perfect, not too long or wordy, but simply just right. This was a hit for me.

Life of Chuck Review:

This is the shortest novella in the Novella collection "If it Bleeds" by Stephen King. It's not what I expected, but I love the contemplation the story gives the reader on life, what we know and that idea of we are more than we seem.

This story is told in 3 parts and it's told backward. The 3 parts are somewhat different with Chuck being the connecting link of the stories.

I'm going to throw up

SPOILER Warning! so I can talk about things without having to worry about spoiling something.

The tales are told about Chuck in some fashion at 3 times in his life and they go backward. We see his end, a middle section of his life and we finish up in his childhood. I think how it all links up is pretty good.

I love how the story starts, it appears the world is ending, everything is dying and people are scared. It's a great story and I was digging it. We then find that a man, chuck, is dying and all the worlds he contains die within him.

Stephen King has used Walt Whitman's poem many times in his stories. The whole worlds in a blade of grass was used in the Gunslinger. Here it is again. I love stories that expand my thinking about consciousness about the nature of life. That surprise was amazing.

The middle story is about Chuck in a moment of pure joy out of nowhere dancing on the street to some drum music on a perfectly normal day. I love that spontaneity. It's just more info on Chuck and his dancing.

The last section is Chuck is a child and his parents were killed in car crash and he is now living with his grandparents and there is a room that is haunted in the house. Eventually, he goes in the room and sees how he is going to die which ties this to the first part.

It's about a 50 some odd paged story and it's a breezy read, nothing sporty or fancy, nothing but a simple tale about a man and his simple life. Great stuff.

If It Bleeds Novella Review:

This is the novella of the same name of the collection it comes from - 'if it bleeds'. The story is a vehicle for Holly Gibney her first story completely about here. I believe it is best to have read, 'The Outsider', at least, before you read this, but it wouldn't hurt to read the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes) as well to really get to know Holly, who almost stole those books herself.

This story is close to 200 pages and its a quick and clean read. Stephen can have such tight writing in his story fictions. He can be on the wordy side at times in his bigger works, but not here. The story gets going, the plot moves along and it does its business.

I have read 3 of the 4 Novellas from this collection and I have enjoyed all of them, but this is my favorite, thus far. I love Holly as a character. She seems so fragile, but she is tough inside and capable. She is not your typical hero type character and she gets the job done here.


The Outsider is a creature and in that book it ends with the thought, I wonder if there are more of them. This story lets us know the answer, Yes, there are more. We see a TV new anchor at the scene of a school bombing and we find out this is another Outsider. Holly confronts him on her own, not the smartest idea and figures out a way to deal with him.

I love Holly's determination. Of course, everything goes wrong with her plan and that's where things get interesting.

I'm so glad we got this story about her and its worth the read. It is the centerpiece of this collection and rightly so.

Rat Review:

I am amazed that Stephen can still give a good twist that surprises me. I'm not really sure how to talk about this without giving things away, so I'm going to put up a Spoiler.

Spoilers ahead:

We are following this writer, Drew. He has a great idea for a novel and he goes up north to his cabin on the border to write it by himself. Drew is sick and a huge 3 day winter storm is coming through. We know Drew got his flu from a man who had to be hospitalized. The cabin is in the woods with only a dirt road that washes out and tons of trees.

I sat here thinking, Drew is going to get sick, the road will be blocked with down trees and he's going to have to fight for his life. It might even be the novel or his life. I saw the story going this way and I could see King writing this survival tale.

Uh, no. That's not what happens. All the sudden, there is a left turn and a talking rat shows up making a faustian deal with Drew. I mean, I know the name is Rat and I was waiting for an evil type rat to show up, but I didn't expect this.

The story could have been much more devastating, but it's a good tale and well told and enjoyable. I loved reading this. I loved getting a look into the mind of a writer and how that process works. It was good.

Drew does get his novel written and published even. This was a great story.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,291 reviews35k followers
August 28, 2020

"Because I can believe the unbelievable. I don't want to, but I can."

"If It Bleeds" is a compilation of four short stories titled "Mr. Harrigan's Phone", "The Life of Chuck", "If it Bleeds" and "Rat". In Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, Craig places Mr. Harrigan's phone in his pocket during his funeral. What happens when a phone rings in a grave? Will anyone answer? Then there is Chuck and his congratulatory 39 years. Will this have you asking, "what's up Chuck?". I will admit, this started strong and lost me along the way. When you know what is coming, how will you proceed? Then Holly Gibney is back! YES!!! Those of you that have read The Outsider and the Bill Hodges Trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers & End of Watch) will remember her! Let us all keep our fingers crossed that this is not the last we will see of her!!! This was the best of the four and my favorite. Then in Rat, a writer goes away to write his masterpiece but at what cost?

Another solid read by King! His Constant Readers will be pleased, I know this constant reader was! Plus, do yourself a favor and read his Author's note. He shares where he came up with his ideas and his own experience calling a dead friend.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
November 4, 2022
Reviewing each story as I go.

Mr Harrigan’s Phone 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Loved this one! Started as a quiet tale about a young boy who is offered a job by his neighbour Mr Harrigan.
Craig reads to him, waters his plants and generally keeps him company.
Mr Harrigan is wealthy, and knew a lot about the stock market in his time, but now retired, the world is moving on without him.
When Craig wins some money on a scratch card he treats Mr Harrigan to a smart phone and he soon cannot live without it.
When Mr Harrigan passes away, he is buried with his smart phone and one day when Craig misses him he calls the phone to hear his voicemail - but what he hears on the other line is something very unexpected.
I won’t give away any more than that, but I loved the ambiguity and moral questions in this tale and it was a great start to the book!

Life of Chuck 3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great start and concept, but sadly didn’t live up to it by the end. Told in three parts in reverse order. A man’s face appears on a billboard just as the apocalypse arrives.
Working backwards we learn who Chuck is and more about his childhood.
But ultimately I was left disappointed.

If it Bleeds 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Loved being back with Holly Gibney! I love her character. This novella is a sequel to The Outsider, when Holly starts to spot similarities between news readers from different time periods she becomes suspicious. Surely there can’t be another creature like the one she previously faced? Fast paced and gripping, I was on the edge of my seat by the end and really enjoyed this one.

Rat 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This could have been too weird, but I found it was just the right level for me. A writer known only for his short stories is determined to write a novel. Despite the drastic end to his last attempt, he is determined to try again.
He goes to his fathers old cabin in the woods for some solitude to get some serious writing done.
But when he falls ill he starts to hallucinate (or does he). A rat appears offering him his life’s dream - but at a price.
I liked that we aren’t really sure what is or isn’t real. Whether the rat was the cause or whether he finished the book himself and the other events are sheer bad timing. Very interesting idea.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,726 reviews12.8k followers
May 21, 2020
Any reader familiar with Stephen King will understand how versatile he can be. King’s ideas seem endless and he is able to spin them into pieces of varying lengths. In this collection of four short stories (I’d almost call them novellas), King shows not only how he can chill the reader to the core, but that his ideas are vast and yet usually tied to current social trends.

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (four stars)
Craig has been working for his elderly neighbour for a few years, reading to Mr. Harrigan and learning a little more about life. When Craig comes into some money, he decides to take a leap and purchases Mr. Harrigan an iPhone, as they are the new ‘thing’ on the market. While Mr. Harrigan is not sure he’d use it, Craig converts the Luddite and soon the elderly man is hooked. After the old man’s passing, Craig honours his friend with a final act. What follows leaves Craig wondering just how strong the tie was that connected him to Mr. Harrigan, as well as what role smart phones have in our ever-changing and impacted world!

The Life of Chuck (three ‘weak’ stars)
The piece is told in three parts, though this is perhaps the most straightforward aspect of the entire reading experience. Each part is in reverse chronological order, beginning with an apocalyptic event where many of the people lose everything, but billboards and online advertisements hail Charles ‘Chuck’ Krantz as having served well over the last 39 years. As the story progresses (regresses?), the reader learns a little more about the earlier Chuck and the life he lived, but adds an ending that will likely leave the reader scratching their heads. Not the stellar King of which I am used to praising!

If It Bleeds (four and a half ‘strong’ stars)
The story that holds the collection’s name is also, in my mind, the best of them all. Tied into King’s recent full-length novel, the reader revisits Holly Gibney and the Finders Keepers Investigation Agency, both of which are doing quite well. When Holly sees a news report about a bombing at a middle school, she becomes fixated, not only with the story, but those who are recounting it. Might there be another Outsider who is responsible for the carnage? Holly goes to look into things, soon pulled into a long-developing theory by an elderly gentleman who has much to share. Where this story will go might baffle the reader!

Rat (four stars)
In King’s final tale, the reader meets Drew Larson, a college English teacher who is hoping to write his ‘great novel’ during a sabbatical. Unable to do so at home, Larson decides to travel up to the family cabin, much to his wife’s chagrin. When Larson arrives, hoping to get the writing bug, he discovers that he’s just beaten a major storm. While the winds gust, Larson tries to put something onto paper. Still struggling and finding himself falling ill, Larson finds himself visited by a rat who seems to be trying to escape the weather. They come to an agreement about how to ensure this new book will prove to be successful, though the sacrifice might be more than Drew Larson can handle to find fame.

Anytime a reader chooses something by Stephen King, they can expect something exciting and unique. King did not disappoint in that regard, though some of his ideas could leave the reader less than impressed. The fact that King leaves that unsettled feeling proves his abilities, as his ideas appear all over the spectrum. These four stories could not be more different from one another, which gives more readers a chance to find something they will enjoy. While King always makes some social commentary, it is up the the reader to decide what they wish to take from the pieces. With his usual random references to past novels and locales, King keeps his fans on their toes as they push through these pieces, forcing those who are keen on details to see how the pieces all fit together. Not to be missed for those who love a little chill alongside their reading experience. I cannot wait to see what else the King of Horror has in store in the years to come!

Kudos, Mr. King, for another wonderful collection. I’ll not soon tire of your variety of writing ideas and the means by which you deliver them.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Baba.
3,561 reviews858 followers
December 19, 2020
Although far from everything Stephen Edwin King writes is golden, in my opinion he is one of the greatest living novella writers - time after time he has proven that he is made for them, from the likes of The Langoliers and The Body to the recent gem Gwendy's Button Box and the eternally loved Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Time will tell what impact these four novellas will have, but I won't be surprised if they also have live on in future editions and adaptations... I can only live in hope :)

The first story Mr Harrigan's Phone goes Stephen King old-school, with the male narrator recounting his idealised youth and the lasting influence and power of an unlikely mentor; story No.2 The Life of Chuck is so King-tast-tic, with an intriguing and almost magical biography of the Chuck set in a world heading towards an undefined apocalypse; If It Bleeds is a ; the final story, The Rat, is more interesting in regards to the narrator's (who's an author) writing habits and methodology, than the main 'horror' story arc itself. All in all another delightful post 2010 Constant Reader ride that yet again sees stronger thriller/crime fiction content make King's tales more readable and enjoyable for me. 8 out of 12.
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books566 followers
August 12, 2020
This is a collection of four short works, novellas in length I believe. If I have a knock on the book, it’s that there isn’t really a good connection across the stories and “If It Bleeds” reads more like a novel that just didn’t quite pass the length test to be standalone. In the end, I don’t care, because I enjoyed all four stories and several were pure ‘King.’ I’ve written a little about each of the four stories below.

“Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”
King might be at his best when he writes from a child’s perspective. Think of IT, “The Body”, or more recently “The Institute.’ Or consider some of his standout child characters such as Danny Torrance (“The Shining”) or Charlie McGee (“Firestarter”). And somehow, he nails adult relationships from a child’s viewpoint, which is sheer talent, in my book. Anyways, that’s the highlight for me in this excellent tale, the relationship between Craig, the young protagonist, and Mr. Harrigan. Of course, the ‘monkey paw’ horror component works too, but that’s just the icing on the cake.

“The Life of Chuck”
In my opinion, this is the weakest of the four stories in this collection. It’s a three-part tale told in reverse and a little gimmicky, not that I mind a bit of plot trickery in shorter works. You figure out the overall premise of the work, about halfway through the first tale (which is the ending), and it’s kind of fun to work backwards, but I enjoyed the first part the most.

“If It Bleeds”
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is an old newspaper/television reporter axiom. In this tale, we get the return of ‘Holly Gibney.’ She is quickly becoming one of King’s favorite and most defined characters. We met her in the Mr. Mercedes series, and she returned in “The Outsider.” She goes solo (mostly), in this story. It’s similar to the second half of “The Outsider”, but well written and carried me along with strong currents both due to Holly, but also a thrilling plot. At nearly 200 pages, I think King could have expanded this into a standalone novel. Maybe add a James Bond type opening (an unrelated mini-adventure), and another scene here or there and he'd be at 300 pages. Oh well, I enjoyed it, I just hate for Holly to have to share the limelight with three other novellas!

I love when Stephen King writes about writing. Why? Well first, he knows a little about it. He’s not afraid to express his fears about writing poorly or about ‘losing the words.’ To me, when his character is an author, it always feels personal and honest. For maximum impact, I recommend you read this story, while you are fifty percent complete of a full-length novel like I am. Much of the plot concerns our main character, ‘Drew,’ and his experiences attempting to finish a novel. King points out that with every scene written, the author loses a bit of choice until at some point you’re left in a ‘cow chute.’ Or, even worst, the words just might dry up. And when you’ve invested a good bit of your time and a little of your soul in fifty percent of a novel, it’s a little terrifying to think about a premature expiry. Anyway, I loved ‘Rat,’ but for me personally, it’s a true stomach-turning, horror story!

Overall, I give the whole collection four stars. “The Life of Chuck” drags it down a little, but in my opinion “If It Bleeds” had the potential to be a full length novel and didn’t deserve to share the pages with the other three. Still, three excellent stories and a fully entertaining reading experience.
Profile Image for J.D. Barker.
Author 23 books4,722 followers
April 18, 2020
Like most of you, I devour everything Stephen King puts down on paper. He plays a great long game but it’s with short stories and novellas where he shines brightest and this latest collection of four may be his best yet. Over recent years his love for authors such as Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, and Meg Gardiner have crept into his own work, adding a realistic police procedural element to some of his tales. Combining with his uncanny ability to make the unbelievable believable, he tends to strike gold—the title story in this book being a great example.
IF IT BLEEDS gives us a welcome glimpse into the life of Holly Gibney, his detective of choice for the twenty-first century. Alan Pangborn 2.0 for those of us who have been reading his work for a while. The story picks up after the events of THE OUTSIDER and answers a question not only for Holly but us readers—was the monster in that book alone in the world? I imagine the executive in charge of THE OUTSIDER Season Two over at HBO perked up when this one crossed his or her desk.
RAT and MR. HARRIGAN’S PHONE will satisfy those Constant Readers who regularly say things like, “I’ll read the new stuff but it’s the books from the ‘80s that really hooked me.” Either would fit perfectly in earlier collections like NIGHT SHIFT or SKELETON CREW. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, RAT in particular will claw under your skin. There’s a certain anxiety only writers know, one that comes from staring at a blank page for a little too long or just as bad—reading something you just wrote and wondering about your word choice. A simile is not the same as a metaphor and neither are quite an analogy and you can drive yourself mad spilling red ink as you swap one for the other.
My personal favorite (and we all have one after reading a book like this, right?) was THE LIFE OF CHUCK. In his author’s note, King mentions how this story came together. I won’t reveal that here, I’ll only say that it works. It works wonderfully. It worked well enough for me to put on my student cap and map out the structure on a piece of paper. Some stories have a rhythm, a beat to them, and this is one you can dance to.
This collection has a little something for everyone—the hardcore fans, newbies, and even those people who harp, “Oh, that King guy is too scary for me.” The latter may need to leave a few extra lights on but they’ll find themselves flipping the pages as fast as the rest of us.
Profile Image for Labijose.
959 reviews417 followers
August 7, 2021
“El teléfono del Señor Harrigan”, o, lo que yo hubiese titulado “Llamada al más allá de la tumba”. Magnífica. Y quizás sirva también de advertencia sobre las posibles consecuencias de la actual dependencia de la tecnología, aunque exacerbando las mismas. No es un argumento nuevo por parte del autor, pero sí una nueva vuelta de tuerca. Cinco estrellas.

“La vida de Chuck” es un poco desconcertante. Empieza muy bien, con mucha intriga, pero, a medida que avanza y la trama vuelve hacia atrás en el tiempo, esa intriga se convierte en un “What the f-ck?”. Es decir, que no sabes muy bien lo que has leído. Un pequeño bajonazo que se solventa con la tercera historia. Tres estrellas.

“La sangre manda”, o “El retorno de Holly Gibney” es la vuelta de SK a revisitar anteriores novelas. Para los que no hayan leído “Mr Mercedes” o “El visitante”, les puede parecer un poco confuso. Pero creo que se puede leer igualmente sin haber hecho esas lecturas previas. La historia está muy bien, pero debo de confesar que el personaje de Holly empieza a resultarme un pelín “cargante”. Quizás hubiese dado para una novela propia, pero creo que el maestro tampoco las tenía todas consigo. Cuatro estrellas.

“La rata” es, de nuevo, un relato 100 por 100 Stephen King. La obsesión del maestro con las fobias de un escritor frustrado resplandece en este relato, como en muchos otros anteriores del mismo autor y corte. Como no podía ser de otro modo, tendremos aislamiento, terribles tormentas y un pacto con el diablo en forma de rata. Cinco estrellas absolutas.

Como promedio, le concedo las cuatro estrellas al conjunto de la obra. Y, si no fuese por el segundo título, le habría otorgado las cinco.

Y mi consejo, como siempre, pero más en el caso de Mr King. Si tienes un nivel decente de inglés, léelo en su lengua original. Aunque las traducciones suelen ser muy buenas, hay mucha diferencia entre sus propias descripciones y las que intentan reflejar los traductores, que tienen toda mi bendición. Pero no hay color. Es lo que hay.
Profile Image for Joey R..
250 reviews323 followers
July 22, 2020
4.0 stars — When I heard that “If it Bleeds” contained a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite books from last year, “The Outsider” I knew I would have to read it. However, the book also had three other short stories that were a part of this book. The first story, “Mr. Harriman’s Phone” was a lot like “Apt Pupil” but King did an excellent job as always in writing from a teenage perspective in a creepy story about a phone with the ability to contact a dead friend. The next novella “The Life of Chuck” can be described in 1 word —“Skip” or maybe “Stupid” either way don’t waste your time. “ If it Bleeds” the aforementioned sequel to “The Outsider” was next and it was almost as good as the original— although this one focuses only on Holly Gibney and her solo dealings with a new version of the Outsider - very entertaining and worth purchasing the book by itself. Finally, “The Rat” brings up the rear as the final story and I truly enjoyed it — even if it was a little strange. A new spin on a writer who makes a deal with the devil (rat) was entertaining and had a lot of twists and turns. If it wasn’t for Chuck this would have been a definite 5 star book but that book being so bad caused me to lower it down to 4 stars — still don’t miss this one because 3 out of 4 great stories is worth the read.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
236 reviews206 followers
October 23, 2021
"The human brain is finite—no more than a sponge of tissue inside a cage of bone—but the mind within the brain is infinite. Its storage capacity is colossal, its imaginative reach beyond our ability to comprehend. I think when a man or woman dies, a whole world falls to ruin—the world that person knew and believed in. Think of that, kiddo—billions of people on earth, and each one of those billions with a world inside. The earth their minds have conceived."

I find it difficult to collectively rate short story collections. There are always those you prefer over others. I have given an overall average rating of 4⭐
I have also rated each story individually.

5⭐️ Mr Harrigan’s Phone:
Mr Harrigan is a wealthy retired businessman who lives alone with his gardener, Pete, and Mrs Grogan, the housekeeper. He befriends Craig, a young boy who lives down the road. Craig reads Mr Harrigan books a few days a week and they soon form a lovely friendship. Craig gives the reluctant Mr Harrigan his first mobile phone. As the months progress, Mr Harrigan becomes quite attached to his new phone….and from here the story takes a spooky turn….

I loved this story. It was gripping, touching, suspenseful, and creepy. I especially enjoyed the lovely friendship between Craig and Mr Harrigan. The characters in this story were so well built. I connected with each and every one of them. It was a pleasure to read.

4⭐�� The Life of Chuck:
What makes this story original is the way in which it is written. We follow the Life of Chuck going backwards and forwards in time from his adulthood to his childhood. The story is told in 3 Acts, starting with Chucks death and the bizarreness going on in the world at this same time. Then we move to Chuck as a business man and his early marriage life. Then lastly we have Chuck’s childhood living with his grandparents.

I really enjoyed this story. The first Act has you a little confused but as you progress you see the story unfolding backwards. I thought it was very clever. Lots of tender moments, fun and sadness. With a bit of supernatural thrown in for good measure!

4⭐️ If it Bleeds:
If It Bleeds is a sequel to The Outsider featuring Holly Gibney. There are familiar characters for those who have read the Bill Hodges trilogy. In this novella, Holly is back to investigate a new case but this time on her own. Pete Huntley and Jerome Robinson are left to deal with the non-criminal cases back at Finders Keepers. Psychologically fragile, Holly is struggling to cope with her previous case which continues to haunt her. She must also stop a new kind of criminal. One who doesn’t think twice about blowing up a school and endangering the lives of children.

I thought this was a nice follow up to the Outsider. Some of the questions I had were answered and I feel like I now have the proper ending I was after! I also liked the inclusion of Holly’s family and also having Jerome and his sister feature heavily in this one was really nice too.

3⭐️ Rat:
Drew is a writer who has only published short stories up until now. While out walking one day he gets a fantastic idea for a Western novel. He decides to spend some time in his family‘s remote cabin. A chance to get away and focus on his writing. However, a severe storm is on the way and Drew suddenly falls ill. Feverish and with the flu he takes shelter in the cabin and waits out the storm. But… is Drew delirious on cough medicine or has he just seen a talking Rat…??

Hmmm this one was just ok. I don’t really have much to say. It wasn’t anything special or anything that hasn’t been done before. I was expecting more and was left quite underwhelmed.

Overall I enjoyed most of these stories. This was my first short story collection from Stephen King. I’m looking forward to reading more in the future. I recommend 👌🏻
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,137 followers
June 28, 2020
4.5 Stars.

Oh Yeah! EXPLOSIVE new collection with Apparitions, HUNGRY evil....and one NASTY rat!

I so enjoy the anticipation of reading every new KING offering and his latest four story anthology, IF IT BLEEDS was no exception. When I first saw the cover and watched the interactive movement of the cat's nose on the cover, I paid my money on-line, of course, and used curbside pickup at Barnes & Noble the morning it was released to the public.

Anyway, I zoomed through the novel in less than two days trying to savor every word yet unable to slow my reading speed, and at the end my first thought was YES! Another Winner! Not 5 stars (for me) this time around, but will definitely look forward to a re-read.

A brief recap....

MR. HARRIGAN'S PHONE - Nothing really scary here, but there is a bit of creep factor combined with an enjoyable story.

I liked Craig and his developing relationship with the new~68 year old billionaire neighbor who likes to give away dollar scratch-off tickets. The young precocious nine year old teaches an old dog new tricks in this story and makes a few surprising discoveries himself when he calls up the dead. (no spoiler here)

THE LIFE OF CHUCK - CHARLES KRAMTZ. 39 GREAT YEARS! THANKS CHUCK! Who is Chuck? What is going on? Nobody seems to know, but I'll just say, after you get a glimpse of his life, I think you'll like him and his philosophy on life.

IF IT BLEEDS - SK didn't save the best for last, he positioned it third. A delivery man...an explosion...death. And oh boy, Holly Gibney is back with her keen eye for detecting evil, her astonishing bravery and quick action when she suspects that evil threat lurking...Again! (Stephen King says he loves his Holly....me too....so please bring her back!)

***A heads-up warning here: Flashbacks to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider give away some spoilers.

RAT - Don't ever trust a RAT, travel down Shithouse Road, shake hands with a coughing, sneezing runny-nose man (especially in 2020) or make a deal with a RAT faced devil in disguise.

Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,128 followers
May 5, 2020
A collection of four novellas, If It Bleeds is, depending on your inclination, either ‘classic King’ or ‘coasting King’ as it revisits themes, characters and ideas from his earlier work.

Oddly, this works in the book’s favour, lending it a sort of cosy nostalgia. The settings are ostensibly contemporary, but King writes as if living in a mythical dimension where no matter what the actual year is – with smart phones, Fitbits and Ubers thrown in as markers of modernity – it always feels like it’s the sixties. Where the school bully’s preferred method of torment is telling the new kid to shine his shoes (shoe-shine kit helpfully provided by the bully himself). This in itself is otherworldly: an America frozen in time, except for the gadgets.

The stories are patchy and a little cliched. The title novella, “If It Bleeds”, follows private investigator Holly Gibney, a character from previous King novels. Holly is (conveniently) tracked down by another character, Dan, who has (conveniently) been monitoring the bad guy for years and (conveniently) explains everything to her. Wouldn’t this all work better from Dan’s POV then? Maybe, but the point is to write a ‘Holly Gibney’ story, even if the plot is weak.

A reverse-chronological structure elevates “The Life of Chuck”, the best of the bunch, to something almost poignant. “Mr Harrigan’s Phone” and “Rat” are nice enough, readable but forgettable offerings.

Despite its flaws, or maybe because of them, this collection is fun, even comforting, to read. Like a campfire ghost story, or episodes of The Twilight Zone, If It Bleeds has just enough supernatural creepiness without being at all scary. King’s writing is time-worn, a little hokey, and very, very familiar… and that’s exactly its appeal.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,322 followers
May 4, 2020
Mr Harrigan's Phone
I absolutely loved this one, King writers such interesting characters that the reader instantly gets attached too.
All the staples of are here as we follow young Craig coming of age whilst working for the wealthy Mr. Harrigan.
During the course of their time together Craig introduces the elderly gentleman to an iPhone, resisting at first Mr. Harrigan soon realises the benefits of a cell phone and becomes hooked by the device.

King's scepticism to the technology is clear and well portrayed, I'm just as guilty of using my phone for everything now - I've even written this review on a notes app!

The Life of Chuck
Easily the weakest in the collection, it does have an interesting narrative as the story is played out over three acts but in reverse order.

If It Bleeds
The longest story in the collection and the one that most people will be desperate to read, this is a direct sequel to The Outsider as we are reacquaint with Holly Gibeny.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of King's recent novels is seeing her progress from a side character in the Mr. Mercades trilogy to the main protagonist in this adventure.
I don't want to spoil any of the previous novels, but this in keeping with them as Holly notices that there's something not quite right with a tv correspondent who is reporting on a school bombing.

King has written a plethora of stories featuring struggling writers, this time we are introduced to Drew Larson who has had some moderate success with some short stories - but an epic novel has always aluded him.
He takes it upon himself to head to a secluded cabin to complete his story.

There's a lot of familiarity with this tale, I always find Kings take on the writing process especially as he is well known for some epic length novels which occasionally doesn't quite have that satisfying ending.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,652 reviews407 followers
November 28, 2022
Stephen King delivered as expected, with some good stories, one meh story, and one spectacular story. I will review each of the four stories separately, but overall this collection is worth the read—a great addition to the King Collection.

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone: This short story revolves around the concept of how far one can reach from the grave. I loved the writing style; when I listened to part of this book on Audio, and the story began, I realized that this was not a forward to the book about King but an actual story. He wrote it so realistically. I was sucked in and enjoyed the story, but it felt like it ended a bit abruptly. 4 Stars.

The Life of Chuck: Hands down, the worst story in the book for me. I get where it was going, but this was one that I wanted to be over already. King was trying to reach the concept of connection in dystopia, but I just wasn't not connecting to these characters. 2 Stars.

If It Bleeds: The titular story does NOT disappoint. Confession: I have not read the Bill Hodges Trilogy, but I will go back and read it now. ALERT: This is a direct follow-on to The Outsider which is linearly following the Bill Hodge Trilogy (Mr. Mercedes TV Show), so I highly recommend reading it first; if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend reading it first. It was great to have more Holly, and I hope King isn't done with her yet. This was the longest and best of all of the stories. 5 Stars

Rat: I am currently writing a novel and could identify with this one personally. I took forever to get through it, though, because of life. It was easy to put down and pick up, and that ending was so classic, King. 3.5 Stars
Profile Image for Mariana.
392 reviews1,698 followers
May 2, 2020
Nota: 4.5 estrellas

¡Stephen King lo hace de nuevo! Este es un libro ideal para el momento que estamos viviendo. No es un libro que se caracterice por ser de horror. Es difícil describir en su totalidad un volumen de historias cortas, pero creo que todos estos relatos tienen en común que reconfortan el corazón y están aderezados con un toque sobrenatural. Aquí van a encontrar a un King clásico, piensen en ese King de "Las Cuatro Estaciones".

1. Mr. Harrigans Phone 4/5 estrellas
La historia de un chico que desarrolla un lazo entrañable con un viejito excéntrico y millonario a través de la lectura. El protagonista del cuento introduce al Sr. Harrigan al mundo de la tecnología por medio de un smartphone y, así, descubre que algunos vínculos son inquebrantables... y que pueden llegar a tener sombrías implicaciones. No puedo elaborar mucho más sobre esta historia porque sería spoiler, pero sin duda es un inicio muy sólido para esta colección.

2. The Life of Chuck 5/5 estrellas
Mi favorito de este volumen. Dividido en 3 actos, este relato empieza como una historia apocalíptica, el mundo está acabando, California se está derrumbando, pero por todos lados aparecen unos extraños anuncios que agradecen a Chuck por sus 39 años de servicio, ¿quién demonios es Chuck? Vamos a averiguarlo en los dos siguientes actos. Un relato precioso que me hizo derramar una lagrimita, me encantó la dirección inesperada en la que avanzó. No les cuento nada más porque quiero que la descubran y la disfruten tanto como yo.

3. If it Bleeds 5/5 estrellas
La historia que da título a esta colección retoma a nuestra adorada Holly Gibney (famosa desde la trilogía de Mr. Mercedes y consagrada en The Outsider). Si no han leído esos libros, quizá sería bueno que lo hicieran antes, porque si no se arriesgan a spoilearse bastantes cosas. En esta historia Holly va a descubrir que existen otros seres malignos como el que combatió con el detective Ralph Anderson y tendrá que hacerles frente. Sin embargo, más que la trama, me parece que ésta es una historia en la que King desarrolla al personaje de Holly. Nos adentramos en su esfera familiar y en su amistad con Barbara y Jerome, al tiempo que vamos viendo a Holly salir de su cascarón y aprendemos junto a ella que, mientras tengamos amigos, todo va a estar bien <3

4. Rat 3/5 estrellas
Esta es la historia más floja de la colección en mi opinión. Quizá tuvo la mala suerte de cerrar después de dos relatos tan buenos como los anteriores y por eso me pareció menor. La describiría algo así como Ratatouille macabro. Un escritor que nunca ha podido terminar una novela experimenta un momento intenso de inspiración y decide ir a una cabaña en el bosque a intentar escribir. En ese lugar tendrá un extraño encuentro con una rata. ¿Qué consecuencias tendrá dicha decisión? Descúbranse en esta historia.

En conclusión este es un libro bonito, no es innovador es King clásico y por supuesto, como fan, a mí me encantó.
Profile Image for Ginger.
754 reviews375 followers
October 17, 2020
I really enjoyed this collection of new Stephen King stories!

I’m going to rate each story on it’s own, but overall, I would gave this collection a rating of 4 STARS!

The first story in, If It Bleeds is called…

Mr. Harrigan's Phone – 4 Stars

I liked the nostalgic feel of this story about a young boy growing up and developing a close relationship with an old neighbor.

Craig is paid to read books to Mr. Harrigan after school. Over the course of many years, they develop a close friendship. Mr. Harrigan is extremely rich and closed off from the world and he likes it like that!

When Mr. Harrigan finally kicks the bucket, strange things and circumstances start happening for Craig. I really liked the creepiness of this story and how the mind starts to imagine all sorts of paranormal activity!

The second story in the collection is called…

The Life of Chuck – 4 Stars

I thought this might be the weakest story of the four, but thinking about this story in the days since, I'm liking it more and more!

Friends that have read this story said, "It has a great The Twilight Zone feel to it".
I can see that now and I think this is one of those stories that will either work for you or not.

The story is written in three parts and it goes from the future to the past.

In the beginning (or future if you will), Marty Anderson is like most people. He goes to work and tries to find a way to get through each day. The world has almost been destroyed by natural disasters, climate change destroying all crops and technology is starting to fail.

The horror of not having decent WiFi would scare the hell out of me.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve lived with dialup in the 90s. 😉 Hahaha!

As Marty is trying to drive home, he notices a huge billboard sign on a building that says,
Marty has no idea who this Chuck is but over the course of a few days, that’s all he sees while the internet collapses and the power finally goes out.

And in the second two parts of the plot, you will finally meet Chuck.

The third story in the collection is named after the book...

If It Bleeds – 4 Stars

This story is the longest of the four and it’s about Holly Gibney, a much-loved character from the Bill Hodges series and the book, The Outsider.

Holly gets on the scent of an investigation of what happens at a bombing at a middle school in Pennsylvania. She sees something from the news reports that taps into her spidey senses. She starts questioning everything involved with the bombing, along this who has really done this terrible deed.

I really liked this one! I also like how Stephen King gives us more background to Holly’s character and how she deals with friends, family and day to day activity.
I feel Holly is on the spectrum and you see this more in this story. You see how smart she is, along with how hard it is for her to trust others and deal with physical contact.

And the finally and last story of the collection is…

Rat – 3 Stars

This one felt a bit too similar to The Shining but I still enjoyed it! It's about a writer trying to finally write his first novel.

Drew Larson can write short stories but what he cannot do is write a novel.
When Drew has tried to take on this task in the past, he mentally starts breaking down and his family starts to worry about him.

While walking downtown one day, Drew finally finds inspiration for the book he’s wanted to finish. He talks his wife into letting him go up to their cabin in the northern part of Maine. He thinks a month alone up at the family cabin will give him the creativity and fortitude he needs to finally finish it.

This story goes into all of Drew’s writing inspiration, the obstacles with the area, a huge storm blowing though upper Maine, along with how someone starts to go slowly insane.

I’ve always wanted to write a book but after reading this short story, I might have to rethink that decision! 😉
Profile Image for Marie.
933 reviews233 followers
November 19, 2020
Another great selection of short stories by the Master of Horror!

There are only four stories in this book and I will set them out with a tiny tidbit of what to expect without giving away spoilers.

Mr. Harrigan's Phone:

This was told in the first person of Craig and how he was involved with an elderly neighbor man by the name of Mr. Harrigan. The story revolves around a cell phone that Craig gives Mr. Harrigan for Christmas one year and how their friendship grows.

Life of Chuck:

The apocalypse has happened within this story which revolves around a man named Chuck and why there are billboards with his name etched into them.

If It Bleeds:

This story revolves around characters from the Stephen King's book "The Outsider" and with an explosion that happens at a middle school. It is best to read the book The Outsider to understand this story as it not only involves the characters from that book it also has references to that story as well.


This story is about a man named Drew who seems to be struggling trying to finish a novel, but when during a storm a rat comes across his path things go awry after that which really becomes a strange story, but then again this is a King novel and it is to be expected that there are strange things brewing within the pages.

Thoughts for all the stories:

All of them were very good, but my favorites were Mr. Harrigan's Phone and If It Bleeds. All the stories were classic King though and when this book was released I was excited about the one story " If It Bleeds" as I have been wanting to reconnect with the characters from "The Outsider" as that book is one of my favorites, so I really wanted to sink my teeth into this book. As always the Master of Horror has done it again with creating short stories that give the reader something to think about. Five stars for creative horror!
Profile Image for Coos Burton.
767 reviews1,300 followers
July 24, 2020
Tuve la oportunidad de leerlo tan pronto salió y no lo desaproveché. No suelo entrar en pánico cuando King saca un libro nuevo, pero se dio, y estoy contenta de haberlo leído. Antes que nada, advertirles que el libro tiene spoilers de El Visitante y de la trilogía de Mr Mercedes, por si no quieren arruinarse esas lecturas. Todos los relatos están buenísimos, pero mi predilecto fue el primero.

En mi videoreseña les hablo más del libro (sin spoilers): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkWFU...
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