First, the good: As with many Stephen King novels released before the twenty-first century, “Needful Things” is the kind of juicy, voluminous novel that can weave a spell over its reader, providing such detail and minutiae into its characters that, when the central conflict gets going, the reader is entirely engrossed and enthralled, ready for anything King has to throw their way. And here, it’s a doozy: The central story can easily be re-interpreted as commentary on small town values, commercialism, religion, politics, etc. It’s thematically potent and rich with possibility. Now, the bad: As with many King novels, there’s ultimately so much unnecessary, digressive padding that the pace is routinely interrupted by King’s endless tangents and it can easily make for a frustrating experience. Ultimately, this is a deeply flawed masterpiece that could use a judicious editing job and claim its place as an important novel, but as it is, it’s held back from greatness by King’s regrettable, chronic overwriting.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)