In the spirit of Halloween season, I’m doing a couple reviews, but not of anything new. These are my old standbys in the short story category.
I am a huge fan of Stephen King’s short stories/novellas. It might be fair to say I actually like those better than some of his longer works. Nothing beats the Dark Tower though.
However, for my first short story read, I’m looking at a story I enjoy reading because it asks the seminal question: How well do you really know the ones you love?
“A Good Marriage” is found in Full Dark, No Stars (2010). I personally loved all four of the stories in this volume, but found this one to be my favorite because of the central questions. Horror, to me, is always about the central question, usually a what if. Phrased as a What If, the central question of “A Good Marriage” is: What if you really didn’t know your husband as well as you think you do? The story is simple: a good wife in a pedestrian, even to the point of boring, marriage finds out she’s married to a serial killer masquerading as a good husband.
The first question is followed by a second: What does she do now? She cannot unsee or unknow what is placed before her. Therein lies the horror of the entire piece, the sudden awareness of everything having been a lie.
Recently I had a discussion with a friend regarding the unreliable narrator and how that works in fiction. Every good lie has an element of truth to it.
In the husband’s case, he wasn’t traveling to kill. He traveled for the coin/collectible business and the killing was a side hobby. He had every reason to be where he was, so she had no reason to question.
I suppose the question that follows is: What would you do if you found out someone you love was a brutal killer? Leave me a comment and let me know how you would handle it.
PS: Be on the lookout for Ruins of Fate to be available soon.