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Danse Macabre

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,136 Ratings  ·  481 Reviews
From the author of dozens of #1 New York Times bestsellers and the creator of many unforgettable movies comes a vivid, intelligent, and nostalgic journey through three decades of horror as experienced through the eyes of the most popular writer in the genre. In 1981, years before he sat down to tackle On Writing, Stephen King decided to address the topic of what makes horr ...more
Paperback, 459 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Gallery Books (first published January 1st 1981)
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This is what my copy looks like after finishing:

There was so much inside that head that I just wanted to remember, or come back to, or... just highlight. I could have done all of that on my nook, and it would have been easier. Simpler, less restricted as to what I could fit onto the post-it, but... I dunno. This way just felt right to me.

There were a lot of references to books that I hadn't read yet, and these sections I tried to skim so that I could get the idea without the spoilers, but that
Aug 24, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different read from what is normally expected from King, but enjoyable nonetheless.

His ideas about writing and also the mechanisms and origins of the horror genre. I still think about this often when I am reading a horror story. Now that I have read some of his influences like Blackwood and Lovecraft, I think I have a greater appreciation for Danse Macabre.

Dec 20, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite Stephen King book--I've read it considerably more times than any of his other works. I don't think it's any secret what makes this book so enjoyable--it's really what makes all of his books work--his storytelling power. He has such a friendly, compelling narrative voice--it's like he's casually sharing secrets with you, and you can't wait to hear what he has to say next.

It might help to enjoy DANSE MACABRE if you are a horror fiction/film fanatic, but then again, it might ju
Oct 19, 2007 Gabriel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who is curious about the horror genre
When I first picked this up, I had seen the Johnny Depp adaptation of "Secret Window[, Secret Garden]" (the movie cut out the last half of the title) and, though the movie was far from excellent, I realized that there was more to the horror genre and to Stephen King in particular than I had previously thought. This book showed me the light.

Since reading this treatise on the genre, I have started actively seeking out more horror fiction than any other type of fiction and write almost exclusively
Alan Scott
Dec 28, 2008 Alan Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fanatics
This book is truly nothing more than Stephen King riffing sloppily (as hell) about the "horror genre." There is no pretense of scholarship, and it has a folky tone which makes it quite easy to imagine what it must have been like back in the day when King got a twelve pack of beer in him, had smoked a joint, and done enough lines of coke to get him on a never ending jag about "the deal" with the genre: to put it bluntly, its about as tight as "the blob," it's rambling, and it's also somewhat amus ...more
"This book is only my ramble through that world, through all the worlds of fantasy and horror that have delighted and terrified me….It’s a dance. And sometimes they turn off the lights in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark. May I have the pleasure?" ~Stephen King
I first read Danse Macabre when I was seventeen, and while I gobbled it up, there was a lot that just went right over my head unappreciated at the time. Even though I was well on m
Mike (the Paladin)
Probably my favorite King book. It gives a lot of insight into Mr. King himself as well as into what he thinks about the writing.

Let me update and expand on this a little. I found (back when I read it) that it gave me a lot of insight (at least I think it did) into Mr. King. (Of course he may be chuckling at that and saying..."so you think. You have fallen into my trap"...just a thought). With biographical sketches, stories from life and tales of his own writing experience it's well worth the fr
Jul 27, 2010 Aaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay. It's difficult to really review a book about the state of horror as a genre when that book was first written back in 1981. With that said, my real issues with the book are not really the book's outdatedness. My big issue is that the book doesn't really seem to make a point and support it. It's more like getting high with one of your favorite writers and then just sitting and listening to him talk.

Some things that crossed my mind as I read this book:

1) It's actually kind of cool to hear St
Sherry (sethurner)
I was in a bookstore in Bangor, Maine looking at all the foreign editions of this book when a teenager mumbled that Danse Macabre is Stephen King's worst book. I beg to differ. This is a nonfiction analysis of the horror genre, both fiction and film, and it was really interesting to me. In fact, I photocopied the suggested reading in the back of the book and worked my way through the lists - it took about five years. I'm sure it's out of date, and that many of the titles he suggests are even har ...more
Stephen King gives us an insight into the world of horror, science fiction film and essential reading. I love nearly all his fiction work and his non-fiction novel On Writing was such a great insider view on his writing world. This one is more ramblings and at times became annoying yes he writes good stories but hearing one too many rambles on his view of film and fiction might not really be that captivating for other readers also. He mentions the three important horror classics the vampire, the ...more
Ben Loory
Apr 16, 2015 Ben Loory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a really fun book even though it doesn't tell you anything new about horror. i mean unless you've never thought about horror at all. king is just such a great storyteller, it's all the side-tracks and footnotes and tossed-off stuff which makes the book so interesting.

also i need to read some davis grubb. gerald kersh. and james herbert.

and i really need to finally see dementia-13. why haven't i seen that. major failing

Quentin Wallace
I put this one off literally for decades. It was the only "major" Stephen King book I'd never read. Well now I have.

I kept putting this one off because it was non-fiction and I was afraid I'd find it dry. And...I found it dry. It just seemed a little plodding, although still entertaining.

This is basically a long essay on horror focusing on the years 1950-1980. King covers all the mediums as in Radio, TV, movies and books. It just seemed a little plodding to me as he gives an analysis on each no
Stefan Yates
Apr 27, 2012 Stefan Yates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephen-king
This book length essay on the horror genre turned out to be much more entertaining than I expected. Even when writing a nonfiction genre-study, King cannot avoid being King. His goofy sense of humor, absolute frankness, and the occasional crass comment made me feel more like I was having a beer with the guy and discussing books than sitting in a lecture hall. King fans who want to hear where he gets his inspirations from and what authors/films he has taken enjoyment from will get a lot out of th ...more
Aurora Dimitre
This is a re-read, technically - I think I've actually even got the other edition marked as 'read' on here, because I found this one in a thrift store and bought it because I'm really bad at not buying every used Stephen King book I see, and thus we are here.

I adore this. I really like King's nonfiction style of writing; I mean, I love his regular prose, but I always love his introductions and such, and this is basically like a 400-page introduction. So it's pretty cool. &for someone who li
Aug 19, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Reviewed First at Brunner's Bookshelf

I really had no idea what to think of this book at first. I want to read every book from Stephen king so this was on my list. The reason I read this recently is for the simple reason that out of all the books I wanted to read this was the only one available at the library when I needed a book. I have always wondered what movies King thinks are worth watching in the horror genre and what his favorite novels are so I was anxious to see what he had to say. At th
P. Aaron Potter
True Story from a Life in Books:
While working on my Master's degree at the University of Virginia, I took a class on fin de siecle literature. Naturally, one evening, talk turned to the eruption of the gothic mode at the end of the 19th century. As we discussed whether or not Oscar Wilde's fantasies could be considered properly "gothic," I posited that the difference between, say, Wilde's Salome and a true 'gothic' like Castle of Otranto was the locus of the horror. "Stephen King makes a distinc
Joe  Noir
Jan 27, 2015 Joe Noir rated it it was amazing
Reading, and especially choosing what to read, has always been very mood and impulse driven for me. I may wake up tomorrow with a craving for Rex Stout, but I may wake up the next day jonesing for Harlan Ellison. The weather, how well I feel, and the music they are playing in the book store may all play a part when I look over and spot your novel. A glimpse of Paul Newman as Harper may send me straight to Ross MacDonald. An image of George Segal may send me to the Quiller novels of Adam Hall. A ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Dec 14, 2013 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
I'm re-reading Stephen King's books in chronological order and this was the next book in line. I can now tell exactly how old I was when I originally read his books because this was the first one I bought (well was gifted) brand new from the bookstore. Every July (my bday) and Christmas my dad would give me any new Stephen King books that had come out as presents; so I was 13 when I got this one. I was really looking forward to this, King's first foray into non-fiction, as my first read of it ha ...more
Thomas Strömquist
Sep 20, 2015 Thomas Strömquist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stephen King fans, definitely!
Shelves: book-collection
The master of horror elaborates on horror - what's not to love? Oh, if you read 'non-fiction' and thought it was a scientific dissertation, well, it's not. It's the master of horror elaborating on horror.

And the movie and books lists in the end are worth it in themselves.
This was originally published in 1981. It is an analysis/criticism of horror books, movies and tv from 1950 to 1980. Although King said more than once in the book that he doesn't like analyzing this stuff, that's what the book felt like to me. More like the analysis and criticism one is supposed to do in English classes, and I was never interested in doing that. I read for interest, fun, enjoyment (or sometimes to scare myself in the horror I read!). But, not to analyze. Because of that, I lost ...more
Иван Величков
Вече съм сигурен, че ако Стивън Кинг пренапише телефонния указател на Пазарджик, ще го изчета за с кеф два дни. Както в другата му поодобна книга „За писането” анализът е смесен с истории, автобиография и лирични отклонения, които превземат текста 2:1 и го правят приятен и четивен.
Книгата разглежда хорър жанра в периода между 1950 и 1980 година, което включва книги, филми, телевизионни и радиопредаваня. Чичо Стиви (както знаем, че умира да го наричат) отново показва, че освен писател е и страсте
Sep 26, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a history buff. I love the history of just about anything that I don't already know. "Just bring it on" is my motto. So when I read Shock Value a few weeks ago and it recommended Stephen King's Danse Macabre, of course I needed to pick it up.

What is particularly interesting about this book is it's original release date--30 years ago. What this means is that King delved deep into history prior to 1981 in this book, and it was a deep history indeed. I appreciate
Arun Divakar
Oct 15, 2013 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it
There is a certain amount of stigma that the occassional reader attaches to horror as a genre. I should qualify what the term 'occassional reader' means : the kind of person who is not bitten too hard by the reading bug ! One book in a long time gap will satisfy their appetite and they shy away from making further explorations is a common trait. I have been a constant recipient of questions and statements from this class in the lines of Do you read horror ? I have only read Dracula and that was ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Noetic_Hatter rated it really liked it
King's a great writer -- as always -- who fills his book with lots of amusing anecdotes. Typical of his work, it starts strong and sort of fizzles out towards the end. Or maybe that's a general fault of survey-style works? It's only loosely focused and starts to feel repetitive after awhile.

Danse Macabre surveys horror film, novels, television, and radio up to 1980, when it was originally written. The strongest segments are about the movies. King loves high art gothic horror as well as the lowe
Ignacio Senao f
Es como una charla de varios días con “el Tito”, en el que nos cuenta sus películas favoritas y libros hasta comienzo de los 80. Vomitando explicaciones de porque este libro es bueno y este no, al igual con las películas.

Tenía un papel al lado preparado para apuntar cosas que ver y leer, pero no, no descubre nada nuevo: le gusta lo que a todos.

Al final hay dos apéndices, uno para 100 películas y otro 100 novelas. Todas las que más le ha gustado a este señor, hasta la fecha que escribió el ensayo
When my husband and I were dating, we started collecting original editions of everything Stephen King ever wrote. We are both big fans, and it was fun poking around in used book stores searching for decent hardback copies. Several years ago now, I vowed that I was going to start at the beginning and reread everything he's written. Unfortunately he writes faster than I read. "Danse Macabre" was one that I hadn't read before. It was interesting to get a peek in to King's mind and philosophy on hor ...more
Wayne Barrett
Very well written, but the book was written 34 years ago so the subject matter concerning the horror genre is way outdated. Much of the book is also an autobiography which is interesting but if you have read, 'On Writing', there's not much new here. Unless you are an avid fan such as myself I wouldn't recommend the book.
I've read this over and over. Excellent overview of horror fiction, horror films, and schlockola in the USA, from that delightful Stephen King POV. The recommended reading and viewing lists in the back are more than worth the price of admission, but there is so much more in here.
Nov 13, 2014 Alyce rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
This book downright annoyed me and I decided to just stop. It's kind of strange to think someone who is one of the masters of horror could seem so non-analytical about the genre itself. He puts a lot of emphasis and attention to schlocky B-movie horror from the 50s and very little appreciation for some of the finer horror out there. I'm not sure how someone can excoriate Kubrick's version of The Shining and yet be OK with The Hitcher. His take on why The Exorcist was scary was that with the Mans ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Andria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was motivated to read this after an excellent collection of horror stories (Slasher Girls & Monster Boys) left me thinking about what makes excellent horror and why we find it so appealing. This book gave me some good food for thought but I could barely chew on it because Stephen King's tone was so irritating. He's obviously super smart and knows more about the art and craft of horror than just about anyone else alive, but he comes off here like that annoying guy in your Masters' program. ...more
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Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M ...more
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“We fall from womb to tomb, from one blackness and toward another, remembering little of the one and knowing nothing of the other ... except through faith.” 46 likes
“we need ghost stories because we, in fact, are the ghosts.” 28 likes
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