Carrie by Stephen King


source: personal copy/purchased
title: Carrie
author: Stephen King
published: April 5, 1974
genre: horror
pages: 290
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Stephen King’s legendary debut, about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates.

Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be a normal and go to her senior prom. But another act–of ferocious cruelty–turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget.

my thoughts:

Carrie is Stephen King’s first published book. At the heart of this dismal and terrifying epistolary novel, is a teenager named Carrietta White, who has had the odds stacked against her from day one. There are flashbacks as we read character interviews and statements about the infamous Carrie, her mother, fellow classmates and prom night.

What surprised me is that this book was so sad and heavy. I already knew the story line because of the film, but actually reading the novel left me feeling drained. King takes the reader to a dark place during the scenes with Carrie and her mother, a religious fanatic who both physically and mentally abuses her daughter. Carrie has the gift of telekinesis which really disturbs her already disturbed mother.

What Carrie White goes through is horrible, the bullying she endures in school is relentless. The interesting part is that her teachers and some of her fellow classmates almost resent Carrie for it, as if it is her fault that she is a victim. Her mother shelters her to an extreme point, not discussing normal life topics with her, like puberty, and this gives Carrie a kind of naivety and shyness that makes her a target at school. She is an outcast and when she goes to her mother for help or advice, it is useless as her mother believes most things are bad and sinful. I found the relationship between Carrie and her mother most disturbing of all, because Carrie needed her mom and would plea for her to help her, but her mother just was not capable of it.

This mix of dysfunction at home and at school finally throws her over the edge on prom night. In the novel, Carrie actually takes down most of the small town that she lives in. Once the night is over, the death count is over four hundred. Most of the senior class lose their lives, the town they live in is left in ruins. King has a fantastic way of getting you inside the minds of his characters, there is a kind of intimacy when he writes this way. Much of it was difficult to read, especially given the school violence that unfortunately we have seen in our world today.

The 1976 film Carrie, which came out the year I was born, is in my opinion one of the best films based on one of King’s novels. I like the 70’s vibe to the story as well, the outfits and the slang used.

King took me to prom night here, and I was on edge knowing what was coming next. Reading how happy Carrie was to finally be part of something was heartbreaking.

She knew with suddenness and ease that this moment would be with her always, within hand’s reach of memory.
p.171, Carrie, Stephen King

Apparently the author wrote Carrie in about two weeks, it sold sold over 1 million copies in its first year.


Carrie is a fast read, and although I already knew what was going to happen I was immersed in it. I still hoped things would turn out different for her, but King weaves a terrifying end to an already sad story. It was akin to watching a train wreck, it is sad and scary, yet you cannot look away.

True sorrow is as rare as true love.
-Carrie, Stephen King

About the author:
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Carrie by Stephen King. Nothing in this post is available for download.

13 thoughts on “Carrie by Stephen King

  1. I was really surprised when you said it was ”sad.” Didn’t expect that! I’m not into horror, which is why I never read it or saw it. However, I think I might read it on a sunny day with lots of light and very early 😀 Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am such a wimp when it comes to watching scary movies so I have never actually seen the movie. Crazy, right? I have this and basically every other book written by King on my TBR list but haven’t read it yet. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been a very long time since I read this. I do remember feeling the same way when I read it.

    You raise such a good point about how sad this book is. It is essentially a tragedy.. The bullying and abuse portrayed here is sadly true for too many people.

    This book is an example of great horror being about some very real issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Naida,

    I have only ever watched the film of this story and that, many years ago. Having enjoyed my viewing experience, I have always been loathe to read the book, just in case I should be disappointed.

    I can’t believe this one was published way back in 1974 and was only Stephen’s second novel. I can’t get to grips with just how many books have been published in the intervening 42 years and the enduring appeal his writing has.

    I’m not quite so sure about this particular version of the cover at either. I much prefer the cover image of the audio version, which is the same as artwork for the 2013 version of the film…

    I keep saying it, but I really must get back into reading Stephen King books, I have always enjoyed his writing, with the exception of the fantasy phase of ‘The Dark Tower’ series. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yvonne. Yes, his work has endured, it really is incredible. I watched that version you linked to and thought it was good, but the original is my favorite.
      I read a snippet of the first Dark Tower and remember enjoying it but not being able to commit to those books. They seem so long. Maybe one day.
      Happy weekend!


  5. I think Carrie is my first SK book and till now it remains as one of my favourites by SK. I remember watching the film adaptation (the older version) and that bloody scene was certainly unforgettable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahhh, I was excited to see that you’d read this! I know exactly what you mean when you say it’s draining. It honestly left me feeling so sorrowful and heart-broken afterwards, not scared at all. I suppose if there were any scary bits they were the ones involving the mother. And I think I might have to disagree about what to categorize this as: I would certainly put it in the YA section, because King has such a knack for getting inside the minds of young people and especially, I’ve noticed, pinpointing that viciousness that sometimes arises when a group of kids are pitted against each other in a competitive environment like school. And I believe adolescents are aware, or will need to be aware, of how religious fervour can manifest in harmful behaviour. Anyways, I’m glad you’ve read it, and I got to hear your thoughts on it.
    Also, if you’d like to participate, I’ve tagged you in the Diverse Books Tag I just did, would love to see your picks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Lady Disdain! This one really was draining. When you put it that way, I think it could be classified as young adult. I think King did a great job at portraying the bullying as well as the mothers religious mania and how all that affected Carrie in so many ways. Truly a sad read and one that has endured after he wrote it decades ago.
    Thanks for the tag, that is a great one! I look forward to playing along 🙂


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