The most recent novel of Stephen King, horror/thriller The Institute, was only published in September, but the ridiculously prolific author already has another title on the way in the form of If It Bleeds, which has had its release date pushed forward a week to April 28th.
If It Bleeds is not a full novel, but instead a collection of four novellas, the same format as the likes of Full Dark, No Stars, Four Past Midnight and the highly popular Different Seasons. The stories are titled Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and If It Bleeds. Not much information has been provided about what we can expect from their actual content, although an excerpt released last year from presumably the titular tale reveals it to feature detectives Holly Gibney and Ralph Anderson from The Outsider, the novel on which the miniseries of the same name was based, which began in January and concluded last month.
The title refers to “If it bleeds, it leads,” an old news maxim that states lurid stories of violence, death and human suffering tend to draw in higher ratings, and not, sadly, an invocation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic line from Predator, since with that movie being released in 1987 it might be too contemporary a reference for King to include.
Most of us are going to be quarantined for the foreseeable future, and the length of time it takes to read a book is a great way of alleviating boredom when you just can’t face binging yet another Netflix series. Horror might seem a counter-intuitive way of handling the chaos into which the planet is descending, but the compelling worlds that Stephen King creates have a certain consistency to them, and knowing that the fear spreading within has rules that will ultimately lead to a resolution in which things are returned to some semblance of normality may prove an effective counter to the uncertainty in which we’re all currently being forced to live.