So … you fancy yourself a Stephen King fan? Think the term “Constant Reader” was invented solely for you? Feel confidant that you know his works inside and out?
Unless you’ve tested yourself against The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book, it’s all empty boasting.
This trivia book was originally released back in 2004, and has now been updated to include the works that came after that period. While the new material is plentiful, the book’s authors (Brian James Freeman and Bev Vincent) have wisely decided to keep the format the same – a format that’s designed to increase the difficulty of the questions exponentially.
You see, it would have been far too easy to divide the questions by specific subject matter - a section on The Shining, for example, which would include trivia about the book, the movie, and the television miniseries; or sections on Creepshow or “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” Freeman and Vincent have instead opted to remove that small bit of assistance by grouping the questions in far broader categories, such a “Novels,” “Novellas,” “Short Stories,” etc. Considering how prolific an author King has been in all of these categories, you can see how this adds a layer of difficulty.
Oh, but they weren’t through there. One can almost see Freeman and Vincent (as well as the numerous contributors they called upon to help gather material, all of whom are acknowledged in the book) cackling with glee as they construct questions to remove even the most rudimentary hint of a hint. For example, there’s a question which reads, “What nickname did Carson Jones have for Ilse Freemantle?” Don’t remember what book those characters appear in? You’re stumped before you start.
Fortunately, all of the questions aren’t like that. Freeman and Vincent are very mindful of mixing up the degree of difficulty so that their hard work doesn’t wind up hurled across the room in frustration. In other words, they do throw the occasional bone so that all of us “Constant Readers” don’t feel like complete dummies.
I can’t write about this Illustrated book of trivia without mentioning the illustrations themselves, provided by longtime Cemetery Dance contributor/King illustrator Glenn Chadbourne. More than just providing the occasional visual break among page after page of questions, Chadbourne’s drawings often serve as clues, and frequently become the source of even more trivia questions. His intense, insanely detailed pieces are a perfect complement to the material.
In his afterword, Kevin Quigley (himself a renowned King expert and founder of Charnel House, one of the oldest King fan sites on the Internet) writes about the inspiration he drew from a similar book of King trivia, Stephen Spignesi’s The Stephen King Quiz Book, and how it sent him back to the source material over and over again, resulting in a deeper understanding of King’s work. I believe the efforts of Freeman, Vincent and their collaborators will have the same result for many. Reading questions about Duma Key and “The Library Police” helped me realize how long it had been since I’d visited some of King’s works, and reawakened that desire to go there again. That’s a gift I can’t thank Freeman and Vincent enough for… even if, along the way, they did make me feel like kind of a dummy.
Order The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book by Brian James Freeman and Bev Vincent.
Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country and contributes interviews to the Horror World website.