Stephen King’s 10 Most Underrated Novels From a Guy Who's Read Them All

A few years ago, Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance started his Stephen King Revisited effort to reread all of the horror meister's works in the order they were published. He invited others to join him, so I did. A few weeks before the end of 2021, I finished. As of now, I have essentially read everything Stephen King has ever published.

I have opinions about his best novels. If I listed what I thought were his worst novels, they would still be books I liked, but none of them would be on this list. This list is for his most underrated. There might be some overlap with his best novels, but this is a different list. In order to be on this list, the novel must be good, but more than that, the distance between the quality of the story and the recognition of the story among fans must be vast. If I made a list of readers’ most beloved Stephen King novels, none of the books on this list would make the cut. All these novels are overlooked, misunderstood, or otherwise ignored by the majority of readers for various reasons.

My hope in making this list is that maybe you will find some treasures in Stephen King’s catalog that you skipped or were not aware of.


1. "Joyland"

I might place this book in my top 5 Stephen King books overall. Joyland is on this list because a lot of people are unaware of it. King has published three books so far with crime fiction publisher, Hard Case Crime. These include The Colorado Kid, Joyland, and Later. All three are shorter works by King standards, and the brevity benefited Joyland in particular. The characters are strong. The emotions dictate the characters’ choices. The story and pacing pull the reader along.

Get Joyland at Bookshop or Amazon

 

2. "Mr. Mercedes"

This is the first novel in a trilogy of Bill Hodges crime fiction novels. Characters from these stories make at least two more appearances in other Stephen King works. These books have received acclaim, but Mr. Mercedes makes this list because in addition to being a great story, it has failed to land on the personal top lists of many people. I’d easily place this work in my top ten Stephen King books. The whole trilogy is good, but this novel in particular is almost perfect in its beats, tone, and diversity of character. No individual is a perfect fit for the role they play, but they create a close to perfect story as a result.

Get Mr. Mercedes at Bookshop or Amazon

 

3. "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon"

Tom Gordon was a real-life Major League Baseball pitcher for the Red Sox at the time of this novel’s publication. The story follows a young fan who gets terribly lost in the woods and must fight to survive a harrowing journey. It is a brief novel, which prevents the story from dragging or becoming overindulgent. It is a close look at a young character struggling to survive. Many Stephen King readers might be surprised at the ways this story is different from his other works, and the power the narrative still holds.

Get The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon at Bookshop or Amazon

 

4. "Lisey’s Story"

Lisey’s Story did receive a screen adaptation that was well received. At one point, Stephen King mentioned he thought it was his best story. It makes this list because despite how good it is, many people still don’t think of it while listing off King’s best. It focuses on strong three-dimensional female characters and relationships. While it has some similarities to Bag of Bones and “Secret Window Secret Garden”, it does a superior job of exploring grief, loss, family, and trauma. This story punches above its weight.

Get Lisey's Story at Bookshop or Amazon

 

5. "Revival"

Revival is something unique in King’s catalog of work. He has always leaned into and borrowed from cosmic horror, but this work captures a sense of existential dread, especially at the end, that other novels weren't able to. It really does an excellent job of tying together themes of religion, faith healing, carnival shows, Dr. Frankenstein, electricity, addiction, rock and roll, and the veil between worlds. These ideas intertwine and tangle up in a story that leaves readers reeling.

Get Revival at Bookshop or Amazon

 

6. "Bag of Bones"

Lisey’s Story is arguably a better novel than Bag of Bones. Both have characters who are writers, a Stephen King staple. Both stories are built upon losses, though they might be seen as mirror images of each other, or divergent paths based on character death. Both had adaptations made of them, although the Bag of Bones version was probably less appreciated. Bag of Bones excels in its mystery and the process of unraveling the unfinished business of the spirit world. A clever story with a surprising resolution.

Get Bag of Bones at Bookshop or Amazon

 

7. "Desperation"

Desperation is not a perfect novel. It was written as a companion piece with The Regulators under the Richard Bachman pen name, long after everyone knew Bachman was Stephen King. The gimmick and connection between the two books are strange. I enjoyed both, but believe Desperation is the better of the two. The unsettling beginning keeps readers off balance throughout the entire story. The struggle against the deadly threat plays out well. The book definitely deserves more attention than it has gotten.

Get Desperation at Bookshop or Amazon

 

8. "Sleeping Beauties"

Sleeping Beauties is a collaboration between Stephen King and his son, Owen King. Generally, I’ve not been a huge fan of Stephen King’s collaborations. In terms of being underrated, I think a lot of readers would be pleasantly surprised by this one. There are a few missteps in the narrative I would criticize, but taken as a whole, the large cast of characters is used well, the action proceeds nicely, the blend of the two writers’ styles serves to elevate the story and differentiate it from other King books, and it has some interesting moments that kept me engaged throughout.

Get Sleeping Beauties at Bookshop or Amazon

 

9. "Rose Madder"

Those who have read Rose Madder are split on it. I would not put it on a list of King’s best work, I don’t think, but I believe the gap between how good it is and how many people know about it is vast. The main character’s escape from the dangers of her marriage is really well written. Her road to redemption is nicely done, and features a really good cast of supporting characters. The supernatural elements are interesting and differ from other King works. I think the resolution of the story is quite good.

Get Rose Madder at Bookshop or Amazon

 

10. "From a Buick 8"

There are a lot of readers who don’t know about From a Buick 8, and many who have read it and don’t appreciate it as much as I do. There is a style of gothic storytelling in which a story is told second or third hand, thereby creating some veils of mystery over the action. Stephen King has utilized this technique a few times over his career. I think the tie between the boy and his late father is done well. I think the bond between the officers, the boy, and the secret they keep is also good. The reveals are laid out in a way that kept me reading. I think they are balanced well with what is not revealed. I’m of the opinion that this book is underrated.

Get From A Buick 8 at Bookshop or Amazon

 

Honorable Mention: "Duma Key"

I debated subbing Duma Key for one of the other entries on this list. It is not a perfect book, but it does fall right near the beginning of the most recent era of King’s career, in which he is consistently putting out great novels one after another. It is not as well known as some, but many who have read it appreciate it very much. King’s descriptions of creating visual art produce excellent prose. The path to recovery is heartfelt and heart wrenching. The characters are fully developed. The losses sting. The story deserves more credit than even I have given it in the past.

Get Duma Key at Bookshop or Amazon


Hidden treasures are the best kind of books for readers to discover. When there are still gems to be found in the work of an author as well known as Stephen King, that is something special. I hope if you are looking for something to read or wish to rediscover a beloved author, you will enjoy some of these stories as much as I did.

Jay Wilburn

Column by Jay Wilburn

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in beautiful Conway, South Carolina. He is a full-time writer of horror and speculative fiction. Jay left his job as a teacher to become a full time writer and has never looked back. Well, that’s not entirely true. He wants to be sure he isn’t being followed, so he looks back sometimes.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

Comments

Jason Bennett's picture
Jason Bennett October 31, 2022 - 10:36am

Omg I Finally Got Helped  !! I'm so excited right now, I just have to share my testimony on this Forum.. The feeling of being loved takes away so much burden from our shoulders. I had all this but I made a big mistake when I cheated on my wife with another woman  and my wife left me for over 4 months after she found out..  I was lonely, sad and devastated. Luckily I was directed to a very powerful spell caster Dr Emu who helped me cast a spell of reconciliation on our Relationship and he brought back my wife and now she loves me far more than ever.. I'm so happy with life now. Thank you so much Dr Emu, kindly Contact  Dr Emu Today and get any kind of help you want.. Via Email emutemple@gmail.com  or Call/WhatsApp cell number  +2347012841542
Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341

Sharlet's picture
Sharlet November 3, 2022 - 5:23pm

BITCOIN RECOVERY IS VERY MUCH REAL, AM A LIVING TESTIMONY!!!!
I was actually fooled and scammed over ( $753,000 ) by someone I trusted with my funds through a transaction we did and I feel so disappointed and hurt knowing that someone can steal from you without remorse after trusting them, so I started searching for help legally to recover my stolen funds and came across a lot of Testimonials about Mr. Morris Gray, an agent who helps in recovery lost funds, which I can tell has helped so many people who had contacted him regarding such issues and without a questionable doubt their funds was returned back to their wallet in a very short space of time, it took the expert 48hours to help me recover my funds and the best part of it all was that the scammers was actually located and arrested by local authorities in his region which was very relieving. Hope this helps as many people who have lost their hard earn money to scammers out of trust, you can reach him through the link below for help to recover your scammed funds and thank me later.
Email Address: MorrisGray830 AT Gmail DOT com
Or WhatsApp: + 1 (607) 698-0239...

MorganGwen's picture
MorganGwen November 8, 2022 - 1:21am

There are friends that really want you to be like them thank you my friend for telling me about Dr Ayoola. I was introduced to Dr Ayoola by my friend. me and my friend have been playing lottery games for some years now. and we are always running out of luck. One day my friend play and win. And I was surprise how my friend won the sun of 10 million euro I was asking him questions and he open up to me and told me it was by the help of Dr Ayoola so I ask him to help me. My friend gave me the contact of this great man call Dr Ayoola I contacted him and told him why I contacted him and also tell  him I got  his information form my friend. To cut the long story short Dr Ayoola help me with a winning number just as he did for my friend and I was able to won 13 million euro all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your kind heart and for willing to help me and my friend I will for ever grateful to you sir because you have done what on one can do for me. You can contact him today and be the next to testify. this man is good when it come to giving winning numbers I will drop his details just Incase you need him to help you thank you sir you can contact him via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

jamesmason05's picture
jamesmason05 November 9, 2022 - 9:47pm

DO YOU PLAY LOTTERY??

I will assume you do or you wouldn't have ended up here on this webpage. But do you WIN the lottery? I will assume you don't, or you wouldn't have ended up here on this webpage.

My name is James M. Mason, If you want a spell to win the lottery, look no further. Dr. Lucas lottery spell is amongst the most powerful spells I have experienced, and you will feel the power once He is done with your lottery spell.

The spell uses a wide range of magical sources, then combines and funnels those energies into one single "beam" of luck attracting, destiny controlling, wealth manifesting pure magical power.

Incorporating herbs, candles, the elements and much more simple magical techniques, this spell can be cast in a few minutes using a few very simple ingredients in His temple.

I am a living witness of his power because he just helped me with his lottery spell and I won CASH FOR LIFE LOTTERY, I'm so happy right now. Thanks to you Dr. Lucas. Contact him for help through his Email:  miraculouscentre@gmail.com  Or  through his Website: https://miraculouscentre.wixsite.com/my-site-1  You can also message Him through his private What's App Number +15302120104. Facebook Page  https://web.facebook.com/miraculouscentre

Whichever type of lottery you play, HE can use His lottery spell to help you win. https://jamesmmason05.blogspot.com/

MorganGwen's picture
MorganGwen November 13, 2022 - 6:19am

There are friends that really want you to be like them thank you my friend for telling me about Dr Ayoola. I was introduced to Dr Ayoola by my friend. me and my friend have been playing lottery games for some years now. and we are always running out of luck. One day my friend play and win. And I was surprise how my friend won the sun of 10 million euro I was asking him questions and he open up to me and told me it was by the help of Dr Ayoola so I ask him to help me. My friend gave me the contact of this great man call Dr Ayoola I contacted him and told him why I contacted him and also tell  him I got  his information form my friend. To cut the long story short Dr Ayoola help me with a winning number just as he did for my friend and I was able to won 13 million euro all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your kind heart and for willing to help me and my friend I will for ever grateful to you sir because you have done what on one can do for me. You can contact him today and be the next to testify. this man is good when it come to giving winning numbers I will drop his details just Incase you need him to help you thank you sir you can contact him via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

HakaungaMaxwell's picture
HakaungaMaxwell November 15, 2022 - 12:34am

I use to be a very poor man who has always not find luck when it comes to playing the lottery. I have been playing lottery since i was 21 years and now i am 45 meaning i have been playing lottery for 24 years. The biggest amount i have ever won in my life was 400 dollars. But one day my story turns to history after i find this man called Dr Ayoola on the Internet that he is the best when it comes to winning lottery. This man is a very strong voodoo man who gives out the numbers that can never fail. After all my years of laboring and struggling to win the lottery i finally won ( $27,000,000) Dr Ayoola is the name, Email:  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or contact him on his whatsApp number text or call +14809032128 this is the only way to win the lottery and the best way OR https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/

Kimberlyremington101's picture
Kimberlyremington101 November 19, 2022 - 2:26am

Advice to save your marriage and get your Ex Boyfriend/girlfriend back ,contact drogagalovespell@gmail.com or WhatsApp +2347059387282 for Urgent effective love Spell to get ex lover back or save you marriage fast and his result is 100% guarantee.

I want to give thanks to Dr Ogaga for bringing back my ex husband. No one could have ever made me believe that the letter I’m about to write would actually one day be written. I was the world’s biggest skeptic. I never believed in magic spells or anything like this, but I was told by a reliable source (a very close co-worker) that Trust is a very dedicated, gifted, and talented person, It was one of the best things I have ever done. My love life was in shambles, I had been through two divorces and was on the brink of a third. I just couldn't face another divorce, and I wanted to try harder to make our relationship work, but my husband didn’t seem to care. and he brake up with me again. I was confuse and do not no what to do again, rather them to get in contact with Dr Ogaga . He did a love spell that make my husband come back to me. we are now very much happy with our self. Dr Ogaga make him to realize how much we love and need each other. This man is for REAL and for good, he can also help you to fix your broken relationship. I had my husband back! It was like a miracle! He suddenly wanted to go to marriage counseling, and we’re doing very, very well, in our love life. Contact


Email: drogagalovespell@gmail.com 

WhatsApp: +2347059387282 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/drogagalovespell

HakaungaMaxwell's picture
HakaungaMaxwell November 20, 2022 - 10:55am

I use to be a very poor man who has always not find luck when it comes to playing the lottery. I have been playing lottery since i was 21 years and now i am 45 meaning i have been playing lottery for 24 years. The biggest amount i have ever won in my life was 400 dollars. But one day my story turns to history after i find this man called Dr Ayoola on the Internet that he is the best when it comes to winning lottery. This man is a very strong voodoo man who gives out the numbers that can never fail. After all my years of laboring and struggling to win the lottery i finally won ( $27,000,000) Dr Ayoola is the name, Email:  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or contact him on his whatsApp number text or call +14809032128 this is the only way to win the lottery and the best way OR https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/

Kimberlyremington101's picture
Kimberlyremington101 November 21, 2022 - 4:35pm

Advice to save your marriage and get your Ex Boyfriend/girlfriend back ,contact drogagalovespell@gmail.com or WhatsApp +2347059387282 for Urgent effective love Spell to get ex lover back or save you marriage fast and his result is 100% guarantee.

I want to give thanks to Dr Ogaga for bringing back my ex husband. No one could have ever made me believe that the letter I’m about to write would actually one day be written. I was the world’s biggest skeptic. I never believed in magic spells or anything like this, but I was told by a reliable source (a very close co-worker) that Trust is a very dedicated, gifted, and talented person, It was one of the best things I have ever done. My love life was in shambles, I had been through two divorces and was on the brink of a third. I just couldn't face another divorce, and I wanted to try harder to make our relationship work, but my husband didn’t seem to care. and he brake up with me again. I was confuse and do not no what to do again, rather them to get in contact with Dr Ogaga . He did a love spell that make my husband come back to me. we are now very much happy with our self. Dr Ogaga make him to realize how much we love and need each other. This man is for REAL and for good, he can also help you to fix your broken relationship. I had my husband back! It was like a miracle! He suddenly wanted to go to marriage counseling, and we’re doing very, very well, in our love life. Contact


Email: drogagalovespell@gmail.com 

WhatsApp: +2347059387282 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/drogagalovespell

Thomas Gibson's picture
Thomas Gibson November 22, 2022 - 3:41am

I want to use this opportunity to tell the whole world on how I become rich and famous. I’m 93 years old. I was passing through difficulty in business and there was no hope of me coming out of my debt.  I borrow  money in my bank to do my business and I run at lost on the business I got frustrated and  decided to be playing lottery to see if I can win and make my business grow and I have played for years now nothing good is coming my way on till I meet someone online talking about Dr Ayoola on the internet. He was taking about how this Dr Ayoola help him to win mega million lottery game. I said to myself if this is true and decide to contact him and told him to help me as well I later read more about this man and see how he has been helping people all over the world. I have faith in him and choose to work with him. After working with him he told me what I need to do for the number to be given to me which I did after he finish working he said I will have a dream and the number will be review to me in the dream. That night has I was sleeping I dream a number immediately he call me and gave me the same number I dream of and ask me to go and play the number. Today I’m here testifying of the good work he did for me I played the number and I won the sum of  1, 000,000 million dollars in a lotto max. You can contact Dr Ayoola for help if you want to win big in lottery game he has the gift of giving right number  contact him today and thank me email him today Via email: drayoolasolutionhome@gmail. com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

Thomas Gibson's picture
Thomas Gibson November 22, 2022 - 3:46am

I want to use this opportunity to tell the whole world on how I become rich and famous. I’m 93 years old. I was passing through difficulty in business and there was no hope of me coming out of my debt.  I borrow  money in my bank to do my business and I run at lost on the business I got frustrated and  decided to be playing lottery to see if I can win and make my business grow and I have played for years now nothing good is coming my way on till I meet someone online talking about Dr Ayoola on the internet. He was taking about how this Dr Ayoola help him to win mega million lottery game. I said to myself if this is true and decide to contact him and told him to help me as well I later read more about this man and see how he has been helping people all over the world. I have faith in him and choose to work with him. After working with him he told me what I need to do for the number to be given to me which I did after he finish working he said I will have a dream and the number will be review to me in the dream. That night has I was sleeping I dream a number immediately he call me and gave me the same number I dream of and ask me to go and play the number. Today I’m here testifying of the good work he did for me I played the number and I won the sum of  1, 000,000 million dollars in a lotto max. You can contact Dr Ayoola for help if you want to win big in lottery game he has the gift of giving right number  contact him today and thank me email him today Via email: drayoolasolutionhome@gmail. com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

Thomas Gibson's picture
Thomas Gibson November 24, 2022 - 1:44pm

I want to use this opportunity to tell the whole world on how I become rich and famous. I’m 93 years old. I was passing through difficulty in business and there was no hope of me coming out of my debt.  I borrow  money in my bank to do my business and I run at lost on the business I got frustrated and  decided to be playing lottery to see if I can win and make my business grow and I have played for years now nothing good is coming my way on till I meet someone online talking about Dr Ayoola on the internet. He was taking about how this Dr Ayoola help him to win mega million lottery game. I said to myself if this is true and decide to contact him and told him to help me as well I later read more about this man and see how he has been helping people all over the world. I have faith in him and choose to work with him. After working with him he told me what I need to do for the number to be given to me which I did after he finish working he said I will have a dream and the number will be review to me in the dream. That night has I was sleeping I dream a number immediately he call me and gave me the same number I dream of and ask me to go and play the number. Today I’m here testifying of the good work he did for me I played the number and I won the sum of  1, 000,000 million dollars in a lotto max. You can contact Dr Ayoola for help if you want to win big in lottery game he has the gift of giving right number  contact him today and thank me email him today Via email: drayoolasolutionhome@gmail. com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

pompey47's picture
pompey47 November 25, 2022 - 6:50am

Do you need a loan???? Personal loans or Business loans???? Talk to me about it.    CONTACT NAME: Mr Petr Buzek, If interested, please contact us at::::::petrbuzekloanfirm@gmail.com
Whatsapp now: +639451256230

Thomas Gibson's picture
Thomas Gibson November 25, 2022 - 1:39pm

I want to use this opportunity to tell the whole world on how I become rich and famous. I’m 93 years old. I was passing through difficulty in business and there was no hope of me coming out of my debt.  I borrow  money in my bank to do my business and I run at lost on the business I got frustrated and  decided to be playing lottery to see if I can win and make my business grow and I have played for years now nothing good is coming my way on till I meet someone online talking about Dr Ayoola on the internet. He was taking about how this Dr Ayoola help him to win mega million lottery game. I said to myself if this is true and decide to contact him and told him to help me as well I later read more about this man and see how he has been helping people all over the world. I have faith in him and choose to work with him. After working with him he told me what I need to do for the number to be given to me which I did after he finish working he said I will have a dream and the number will be review to me in the dream. That night has I was sleeping I dream a number immediately he call me and gave me the same number I dream of and ask me to go and play the number. Today I’m here testifying of the good work he did for me I played the number and I won the sum of  1, 000,000 million dollars in a lotto max. You can contact Dr Ayoola for help if you want to win big in lottery game he has the gift of giving right number  contact him today and thank me email him today Via email: drayoolasolutionhome@gmail. com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

BLANKATMCARD2023's picture
BLANKATMCARD2023 November 28, 2022 - 3:20am

GET RICH WITH BLANK ATM CARD, Whatsapp: +18033921735

I want to testify about Dark Web blank atm cards which can withdraw money from any atm machines around the world. I was very poor before and have no job. I saw so many testimony about how Dark Web Cyber hackers send them the atm blank card and use it to collect money in any atm machine and become rich. {DARKWEBONLINEHACKERS@GMAIL.COM} I email them also and they sent me the blank atm card. I have use it to get 500,000 dollars. withdraw the maximum of 5,000 USD daily. Dark Web is giving out the card just to help the poor. Hack and take money directly from any atm machine vault with the use of atm programmed card which runs in automatic mode.

You can also contact them for the service below

* Western Union/MoneyGram Transfer 

* Bank Transfer

* PayPal / Skrill Transfer

* Crypto Mining

* CashApp Transfer

* Bitcoin Loans

* Recover Stolen/Missing Crypto/Funds/Assets


Email: darkwebonlinehackers@gmail.com

Text & Call or WhatsApp: +18033921735

Website: https://darkwebonlinehackers.com

Thomas Gibson's picture
Thomas Gibson November 30, 2022 - 12:30pm

I want to use this opportunity to tell the whole world on how I become rich and famous. I’m 93 years old. I was passing through difficulty in business and there was no hope of me coming out of my debt.  I borrow  money in my bank to do my business and I run at lost on the business I got frustrated and  decided to be playing lottery to see if I can win and make my business grow and I have played for years now nothing good is coming my way on till I meet someone online talking about Dr Ayoola on the internet. He was taking about how this Dr Ayoola help him to win mega million lottery game. I said to myself if this is true and decide to contact him and told him to help me as well I later read more about this man and see how he has been helping people all over the world. I have faith in him and choose to work with him. After working with him he told me what I need to do for the number to be given to me which I did after he finish working he said I will have a dream and the number will be review to me in the dream. That night has I was sleeping I dream a number immediately he call me and gave me the same number I dream of and ask me to go and play the number. Today I’m here testifying of the good work he did for me I played the number and I won the sum of  1, 000,000 million dollars in a lotto max. You can contact Dr Ayoola for help if you want to win big in lottery game he has the gift of giving right number  contact him today and thank me email him today Via email: drayoolasolutionhome@gmail. com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128