The Stephen King Companion
by George Beahm
Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
There are few modern authors whose names are immediately recognizable to such a broad audience as Stephen King. Widely considered the greatest horror writer of this generation, King’s novels are eagerly devoured by fans young and old, and the movies based on his books are always among the most anticipated. In The Stephen King Companion, George Beahm chronicles King’s life from his very early, pre-published years, all the way up to his most recent release, Revival. Before getting to King’s first published novel, Carrie, Beahm examines his family life, his early influences, his time as a student at the University of Maine, and his initial career as a teacher. While the meat of the volume is the review of King’s output as a writer, these early chapters give readers a fuller understanding of the horror master’s themes and influences.
Beahm leaves no stone unturned in this massive tome of Stephen King’s work. Every novel is cataloged, with plot synopses and critical reactions, along with the enduring legacy of the stories. While The Stephen King Companion’s focus is the literary output, Beahm does not ignore the screen adaptations of King’s writings. They are generally mentioned in passing, unless there is a juicy story attached to it (as in The Shining and King’s distaste for Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation); there are also about fifty pages are devoted to the “Screamplays” in part six of the book.
The Stephen King Companion was undoubtedly a labor of love for Beahm, and it stands as the definitive look at one of horror’s greatest writers. Fantastic illustrations by Michael Whelan and Glenn Chadbourne are included throughout, making it even more enjoyable. Stephen King and horror fiction fans will absolutely love The Stephen King Companion for it thorough treatment of “America’s best-love bogeyman.”