Well I haven't read "The Dark Half" since I was a teen. I realize now why that was, probably because teen me was bored reading parts of this as adult me was now. I do think that parts of the book are fairly good (I loved the sparrows and the growing realization of who George Stark was) but think that the book gets bogged down a ton with way too much talking that goes nowhere and an ending that kind of fizzles. You end up having to read the other Castle Rock books in order to find out what happens to the characters mentioned in this one which is okay, but does make it that "The Dark Half" is not a true standalone book.
"The Dark Half" was written in response to when Stephen King was outed as writing as Richard Bachman. I have to say that "The Dark Half" really does read like a Bachman book (go read "The Long Walk," "The Running Man," and "The Regulators"). Most of those works seemed to have violence for violence sake. Not my favorite of King's works, but still interesting. "The Dark Half" is mostly brutal with parts broken up by characters talking to each other about things we as readers are already privy to. So most of the book you are just waiting for everyone to figure out things and for the ending to come.
"The Dark Half" is about author Thad Beaumont who has recently come out and admitted that he has written under the name of George Stark for years. Thad and his wife decide to declare George Stark dead after a man tries to shake them down for money to keep their secret hidden that he really is George Stark. Thad has started to find some success writing under his own pen name and thinks now is a good time to lay Stark to rest. Unfortunately, someone takes significant pains to go out and murder anyone connected with the "death of George Stark." When all signs point to Thad or someone close to him being responsible for these deaths, Thad starts wondering if someone is delusional enough to think that they are really George Stark.
The character of Thad intrigued me in this one. I do feel bad about what ends up happening to him (see "Needful Things" and "Insomnia"). Thad has a good life and when you realize his connection to "George Stark" I ended up being moved to mostly pity for the guy.
The other characters in this one come in and out and don't really sing to me. We have Thad's wife Liz that felt like an afterthought after the first couple of hundred pages. I wished for more from that character.
Sheriff Alan Pangborn I honestly didn't care for in this one. I liked him much better in "Needful Things" he is also referenced down the line in "Bag of Bones." I think the issue for me is that the sheriff blames Thad for what has occurred, but I didn't and thought it was weird how the book ended.
We also get a plethora (not really but it felt like it) of characters who ended up being murdered by George Stark and reading all of their bad ends was gruesome after a while.
The writing was okay, but as I said, there was way too much talking going on. I found myself really bored after we get to Part II: Stark Takes Charge. Also since I had this in paperback format, it was hard to read some of the writing that was included in this book that was in cursive and showing what Thad and Stark's writing looked like. I honestly wish I had a magnifying glass.
The setting of this book is pretty familiar to Constant Readers. We are back with Castle Rock, Maine the site of some insanity that has gone on in many a King book. I always wonder why people never move away from that place. The first book in the Castle Rock series would be "Cujo". After "The Dark Half" you can read "Needful Things" where you can follow up with Sheriff Alan Pangborn and hear about Thad Beaumont again.
The ending was a meh to me. I mean I liked how King dealt with the problem of George Stark. It sounded awesome and terrifying (I will never look at sparrows the same way again) but it just took way too long to get there.