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The Mist

Review

The Mist

When the brutal heat wave bearing down on western Maine finally breaks late one July, area residents find that the heat would’ve been welcome compared to what comes in its wake. David Drayton, a successful illustrator, lives on the shore of Long Lake with his wife Stephanie and their five-year-old son Billy. The trio survive the devastating storm that cracks the high temperatures but their property is a mess of downed trees, live wires and broken glass. David and Billy, along with a grumpy neighbor, head into town to get clean up supplies and food. David and Billy will never return home and never see Stephanie again. THE MIST, a newly re-published novella by Stephen King, is David Drayton’s account of the next two days of uncertainty, violence and terror under the blanket of an unbelievable mist that rolls in after the storm.

"THE MIST is great fun and a quick read. Still, King packs in some strong and interesting characters and some cool ideas for readers to work through."

David, Billy and Brent Norton arrive at the Federal Foods Supermarket, having had the same idea and needs as everyone else. The store is crowded with folks getting food and other supplies to deal with the ravages of the storm and the loss of electricity. The lines in the store are long and the shelves are emptying by the time Norton and the Draytons queue up. As they inch closer to the registers, the mist, something that David noticed coming across Long Lake the night before, comes right up to the store, totally obscuring the view of the outside world. Those with the wrong instinct run out into the mist, and they disappear forever. Most people in the store stay inside, trembling and uncertain.

Those who stay in the store are comforted by the thought of food and shelter, but it soon becomes apparent that they are not as safe as they would like. A store employee is brutally killed by a tentacled beast while trying to fix the generator and after night falls, horrific creatures try to get in the building. Factions form amongst those inside: some decide to leave and meet a gruesome end, some, led by a frightening woman named Mrs. Carmody fear the end times are upon them and begin to agitate for a blood sacrifice. David and a small group try to keep calm and thoughtful, even in the face of suicides and gore. They visit the pharmacy next door only to find carnage and a monster that they have little chance against. It is upon returning to the Federal, and with Mrs. Carmody’s influence growing, that they decide they must make it to a car and try to leave. At the very end of the book David admits that the end of his story is less than satisfactory, with no promise of a happy ending. His own father called it a Hitchcock ending, one where there is ambiguity that means one must “make up his own mind about how things ended.” King has his readers do the same in THE MIST. Our hero is still unsafe, yet driven to survive and protect those with him.

THE MIST is great fun and a quick read. Still, King packs in some strong and interesting characters and some cool ideas for readers to work through. Is the mist a harbinger of the apocalypse? Are the monsters it hides a mutations escaped from a nearby government lab? Is the whole world enshrouded? Or, can the mist be escaped? Like David Drayton and his companions, we are left with not much more knowledge than we started with (though we are only voyeurs, thankfully, to their trauma and pain). And, because King has crafted such an enjoyable story, readers will be just fine with this uneasy and precarious finish.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on June 28, 2018

The Mist
by Stephen King