I'm giving this 4 stars even though I thought the first story in this collection of four only deserves 2 stars. I almost quit reading this book because of that initial novella, but I'm glad I didn't, because the other three were great. Even the Afterward was amusing. It was part diatribe, part explanation of his story ideas, and somewhat defensive-sounding. It starts off saying that the stories in Full Dark are "harsh". That may be true, but I didn't experience them as harsh while I was reading. And I can't imagine King's other "Constant Readers" being shocked by them either. These stories have perhaps more realism and less supernaturalism than is usual for King, but they are just as horrific, and maybe that equals harsh. Because reality is sometimes a horror story too. I personally prefer King's longer, more heavily populated stories, but then I'm not a big short story fan to begin with. In either format, this author's top skill is his ability to flesh out his characters' personalities and make them extremely real. He does this not by description, but by bringing us into the minutiae of their minds and memories. He makes us know and care about them, thereby assuring that we will share their terror and suffering.