In Mile 81, Stephen King’s latest digital-only release, a muck-encrusted station wagon parks in an abandoned rest area along a busy stretch of Maine interstate and commences to eat anyone foolish enough to get too close. It’s a simple premise, the basic idea of which harkens back to his novels Christine and From A Buick 8, and the execution of which recalls his short stories from the Night Shift and Skeleton Crew days – the ones he used to call “one-reel horror movies.” It gives him a chance to cut loose on some good, gory descriptions (“He could see glistening fingerbones from which the flesh had been sucked, and he had a brief, nightmarish image of chewing on one of the Colonel’s chicken wings.”), and to pack plenty of his trademark character building into a compact but powerful space.
Above all, Mile 81 is just a fun read. It’s clear that King had a good time writing it, and most of his fans are going to have a good time reading it. It’s also an excellent vehicle in which to deliver a preview of his upcoming novel 11/22/63, but I skipped that. We’ve got too long to wait for me to start reading that now, and I’m already impatient for it. In the meantime, if you haven’t already downloaded this new morsel, go ahead – it’s worth the price of admission and then some.