... contains four new, exceptionally compelling novellas that reaffirm [King's] mastery of the form ... the mid-length narrative suits his talents particularly well, permitting a degree of expansiveness while maintaining a controlled, disciplined approach to the material at hand. The results are stories that cover a surprising amount of emotional territory but can still be read in a sitting ... King continues to draw from a rich and varied reservoir of stories. At its best, his work remains deeply empathetic and compulsively readable. May the reservoir never run dry.
... showcases King’s gift for crafting personas – in one case, fleshing out someone fans already know well – and exploring themes such as mortality and friendship ... Sure, King still owns the fright business like none other, but the iconic author will keep you up late at night engrossed in four tales about our dreams and our frailties.
There’s...a notable thread of simmering anxiety woven throughout that feels very current ... In addition to the expected supernatural horror themes, the four novellas...are undergirded, to great effect, with more earthbound fears ... Unlike the other novellas in the collection, 'The Life of Chuck' defies narrative categorization. Is it horror? Is it magical realism? Is it literary fiction? Or do each of the three stories carry their own identifier? The jewel in the crown of 'If It Bleeds,' however, is the titular novella ... If the collection has any sort of an Achilles heel, it might be King’s occasional tendency to overplay his hand when writing the ethnic, racial, or age-related idiom of certain characters ... King’s work at its best is masterfully accessible, and so it is here in If It Bleeds. He has often referred to his work as the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries, and while that might indeed be the case, it perhaps more resembles the work of a sculptor who uses an axe instead of a chisel. The resulting work shouldn't be as refined or have as much depth and detail as it somehow does.