The holiday cheer and good feeling that we eagerly wait to accompany this time of year can often prove to be exhausting as the cousins start to pile up in one steadily shrinking living room. What presents a better escape from all this (eventually) forced peppiness than a few hours locked in your room with a bone-chilling horror novel? After taking a quick break by the fireplace with It by Stephen King, you'll be begging for your grandma to pinch your cheek while she digs at your most embarrassing childhood memories.
In truth, they are undoubtedly fonder memories than those that haunt the children of Derry, Maine circa 1958 or so.
King wrote It, his eleventh novel, in 1986, invoking all the terrors that could possibly harrow the mind of a child (and consequently any adult who reads it). The course of the lives of seven children are irreversibly altered after a series of horrifying murders plague the town of Derry in the late 1950's, committed by an evil so unspeakable and incomprehensible that the only word they can muster to describe this force is "It".
Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben, Beverly and Stan are a tight-knit group of precocious twelve year-olds that refer to themselves collectively as the "Losers". Brought together by qualities that make them social outcasts among their peers and their own encounter and subsequent escape from It, they form a friendship so strong that they might just be able to defeat this murderous atrocity that is ailing their hometown. For It is no ordinary monster. It hunts children in order to quell its hunger, but has the ability to mask its true form by taking the shape of whatever they fear the most
The fateful day that It murders Bill's younger brother George marks the beginning of an age-old cycle in which countless children have lost their lives, a cycle to which the Losers find that they must either succumb or finally bring to an end.
Twenty-seven years later, the Losers reconvene from the separate stages of their lives when they find that the cycle has begun again. For some reason they can't at first seem to remember each other or what occurred all those years ago, but the promise they made to come back to Derry should It start killing children again is recalled without fail, and so they return.
It is phenomenally terrifying, yet inexplicably addictive. You'll stay up late working your way through its pages (there are over a thousand), and find yourself once again wondering about creatures that lurk in the dark, waiting to prey on an unsuspecting soul.
King wrote his first novel, Carrie, in 1974, and followed it with another almost every year thereafter until his latest, The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole, in 2012. Several of these have been made into movies since, including It, The Green Mile, and Carrie. A remake of the latter was recently released, but the original can be found on Netflix.