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Underrated Stephen King Stories You Should Check Out

Updated June 14, 2019 5.5k votes 980 voters 30.1k views15 items

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Stephen King is the master of modern horror. On average, the Maine-based writer manages to put out two books a year. And with the popularity of films and TV shows like ItCastle Rock, and 11.22.63, it's safe to say that his influence on popular culture isn't going away anytime soon.

The downside with King is he's been working for so long that some of his catalog ends up overshadowed. Not many writers are so prolific, and with a ridiculously long list of classics to choose from, even diligent King fans - called Constant Readers by the author - are bound to miss some hidden gems. 

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  • Photo: Stephen King / Signet

    Cycle of the Werewolf is a 1985 novel about a werewolf preying upon the town of Tarker's Mills, and a young man in a wheelchair named Marty Coslaw who recruits his uncle to help stop it. It's standard horror fare, except that it also comes with striking illustrations by Berni Wrightson. It's not quite a graphic novel, but it adds another fun, unique element to King's expansive oeuvre.

  • Photo: Stephen King / Viking Press

    You may or may not be familiar with the 2018 film Gerald's Game, but regardless, it is the perfect time to go back and catch up on the book that inspired this confined spaces thriller.

    In a sex act gone wrong, Jessie Gurlingame is handcuffed to the bed by her husband, Gerald. This quickly turns into a fight for survival, as Jessie is forced to battle malevolent forces real and imaginary from the confines of the bed. 

  • Photo: Stephen KingViking Press

    All of the novellas from Stephen King's 1982 anthology Different Seasons have been turned into movies but this one, and considering that two of them became legitimate classics (The Shawshank Redemption, and Stand By Me) it's hard for The Breathing Method not to seem slight by comparison. But just because this story is smaller doesn't mean it isn't worth taking a look at. 

    A story within a story, The Breathing Method recalls a woman's strange approach to giving birth, as told by a man in an offbeat club. Like all the novellas in Different Seasons, there are otherworldly elements to it, but its genre is difficult to pin down. This odd, unclassifiable nature is what makes The Breathing Method, and indeed all the stories in Different Seasons, worth reading, even as it remains perplexing. 

  • Photo: Stephen King / Viking Press
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    At 787 pages, Insomnia is nothing short of a tome. And although it has some things in common with his other longest works (It, The Stand) it perhaps doesn't have the epic, sweeping quality that made those books instant classics. 

    Stephen King has dismissed the novel himself at times, describing it as one of his lesser works. That's not to say that even with its daunting length, however, Insomnia is worth skipping.  This story of a man who can't sleep and begins to see strange visions after his wife's death is particularly affecting for anyone who's suffered from the titular infliction. There's a moody, dream-like quality here, present in other King works but never more at the forefront.