There is probably no horror writer more synonymous with his genre than Stephen King. Carrie, It, and The Stand are only a few of dozens of works that helped him dominate the scene for decades. Alas, obscurity can strike even the giants among us. And with Thinner, it’s terribly undeserved.
Thinner was the last novel King wrote undetected under his Richard Bachman pseudonym. In many ways, his attempt to hide his style’s usual trappings is a very good thing. There is almost none of the self-confessed “elephantiasis” that often infects his work. The narrative is lean, offering just enough space to fully develop the characters and their bizarre predicament without sacrificing the pacing.
Admittedly, the plot does come off rather absurd in summation. A portly attorney accidentally strikes and kills a gypsy woman with his car. Using his connections to avoid the charges, he escapes justice only for the widower to place a curse on him causing rapid emaciation.
A story this borderline corny would’ve been so simple to mishandle, but King’s talent twists it into something bordering on the sublime. The protagonist, though unlikable, is very well developed, and the story’s tension really amps up to match his increasing desperation. Instead of coming across as a cheesy B-flick (like its movie adaptation), the novel has the quality of a weird little fever dream that sticks with you upon waking.
So, give this one a shot even if you’re more into King’s epic-length books. At only a little over 300 pages, you don’t have much to lose.