Carrying on with my weekly meme ‘Short Read Sunday’ in which I read something short … every Sunday (It’s a tricky name, really it is), I thought I would look to the master of horror himself: Stephen King.
The following details are for Skeleton Crew as a whole seeing as that is the collection I am reading from, not solely The Reaper’s Image:
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: Unknown. Part of a larger collection.
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of The Reaper’s Image: 4 out of 5
Originally I purchased ‘Skeleton Crew’ purely because I wanted to read ‘The Mist’ which is brilliant and I would highly recommend to any King fan yet to read it or, simply, any fan of horror. When I was looking for some material for this week’s short read, I came across Skeleton Crew in my kindle and the short story ‘The Reaper’s Image’ which King says he wrote when he was only eighteen years old. Naturally, as a fan, I was eager to try out some of his earlier writing.
The Reaper’s Image did not disappoint. It is very short, only a few hundred locations on a kindle (not certain of actual page count due to only owning the kindle version) and yet it gives a satisfying story in so short an amount of time (something that I can attest to being quite difficult. I have tried many a time and only got it right a handful).
In The Reaper’s Image an antique collector by the name of Johnson Spangler visits the Samuel Claggert Museum … which is essentially a ‘museum’ filled with tat and the occasional rare and valuable piece. But, apparently, mostly tat. His visit surrounds a finely crafted mirror, one of only a handful left in the world made by an Elizabethan craftsman by the name of John DeIver.
The mirror has a sinister reputation, it is said that to select people who gaze into it, the image of the Reaper will appear standing close by them. The Reaper’s Image tells the tale of the mirror and the unknown fates of those who look into its depths. King does well to convey the pure horror of one man and the sheer unbelieving sceptical nature of another. In so short an amount of time he brings across a range of emotions surrounding the mirror and gives the reader a tantalising problem that is never solved: Just what happens to those who look into the mirror and see the Reaper staring back at them?
All in all, if you have ten to fifteen minutes to spare, The Reaper’s Image is well worth your time. It has made me want to delve deeper into Skeleton Crew, so you may well see more from those pages gracing my Short Read Sunday feature in the future.