Needful Things (novel)

Needful Tings is open at dusk in Castle Rock business districtStephen King’s 1991 bestseller Needful Things is set in Castle Rock, Maine as were his earlier bestsellers like Cujo, The Dead Zone, and The Tommyknockers. Some of the characters from those novels reappear here.

Castle Rock residents are surprised to see a new store called Needful Things preparing to open. Owner Leland Gaunt is a stranger to town. His business practices are odd. He opens his store before he has enough merchandise to fill his cases, and sidesteps questions about his background.

Gaunt has an instinct for knowing exactly what each customer most desires, and—most peculiar of all—Gaunt typically lets customers set their own price. All Gaunt asks in addition is that each buyer play a harmless trick of his devising on someone in town.

Even Gaunt’s most enthusiastic customers sense something sinister about him.

Once they secure their treasure, each buyer becomes paranoid, totally obsessed with the idea that someone else is plotting to steal their treasure away. Customers take steps to protect their things.

Needful Things is usually categorized as horror, but the book overall reads like a parable about human nature. Perhaps that explains why the book is still worth reading while the film version, which concentrated on horror, fizzled.

Needful Things by Stephen King
Bill Russell, Illus.
Viking. ©1991. 690 p.
1991 bestseller #3; my grade: B+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni