Imagine this: you’re reading a Stephen King novel on the beach, just trying to get a thrill while your skin bakes. You’re about halfway in when your friend asks if you’re hungry, but the horror novel’s plot has thickened to a point where your feet are stuck in it like mud. “The maestro has done it again,” you think, turning salt-washed page after page. Is this truly Stephen King’s most insane novel?
Luckily, we’ve read everything Stephen King has ever written and ranked the Maine-native author’s disturbing plot twists. Below are the American horror master’s greatest reveals, ranked by how likely you are to put the book down to play beach volleyball.
This article, obviously, spoils several Stephen King novels.
God of the Lost
In The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, available as a novel and illustrated pop-up book, a tween named Trisha is separated from her family in a vast forest. She only has a bottle of water, two Twinkies, a boiled egg, a tuna sandwich, a bottle of Surge, her poncho, her Game Boy, and a Walkman, which she eventually hallucinates is emitting baseball player Tom Gordon’s voice. Trisha is stalked by a creature she feverishly dubs the God of the Lost, with bleeding eyeholes and a mouth full of bees. At the end of the book, we realize Trisha hasn’t been hallucinating; the God of the Lost is a huge bear that’s been hunting her for days.
Gerald’s Game Isn’t About a Couple
If you open King’s novel Gerald’s Game without knowing anything about the plot, you might assume for a few pages that it’s a horror novel about a BDSM relationship gone awry. However, when Jessie’s husband Gerald handcuffs her to their bed and tries to force sex, she kicks him off and accidentally kills him. What follows is an entire novel about Jessie pinned to a bed while her husband’s corpse begins to stink and decompose on the floor. She remembers being molested as a kid, hallucinates a lot from hunger and thirst, and ends up making a 127 Hours-esque choice to free herself.
Those Aren’t Zombies
Stephen King’s Cell novel begins like any other zombie story. A huge pulse signal is transmitted through cell phones all over the world, turning anyone who had their phone to their ear at the time into frothing, violent, mindless creatures. These cell-exposed folks change over the course of the book, from zombie archetypes into an intelligent and cruel humanoid species, which communicates like a hive mind and follows a leader named Raggedy Man. Movie trailers for 2016’s Cell spoiled the central twist of the book, and that might be part of why the movie is considered so bad.
Stephen King’s teleportation horror story follows a family as they’re about to be transported across outer space to a new world. The story’s hero, Mark, recounts to his kids the dangers of “jaunting” across the universe if not under sedation, and the story builds to the point where the reader believes the family might get through unharmed. Allegedly, if one “jaunts” while still awake, the entirety of space and time floats by them as they’re isolated for what feels like a never-ending millennia. If anybody in the story, Mark seems like the most likely candidate for feeling his jaunt go awry.
When Mark arrives healthily, he turns to see his son was curious and held his breath during the anesthesia. Mark’s son Ricky has grown long and bone white, and he cackles with bloodshot eyes as authorities cart him away. Ricky screams, “It’s longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!” and then he claws out his own eyes.
Wild Bill Is a Pedophile
The central tension in Stephen King’s The Green Mile is whether John Coffey’s gift cancels out his horrific alleged crime. Just as we’ve become emotionally attached to the character and learn that he’ll be killed by the state of Georgia, King reveals that Wild Bill, the scariest prisoner on the cell block, is the actual perpetrator of what Coffey supposedly did: rape and murder two little girls.