If It Bleeds

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If It Bleeds
If It Bleeds (Stephen King).png
First U.S. edition cover
AuthorStephen King
Audio read byWill Patton
Danny Burstein
Steven Weber
CountryUnited States
GenreSupernatural fiction, horror, crime fiction
Publication date
April 21, 2020
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Preceded byThe Institute 

If It Bleeds is a collection of four previously unpublished novellas by American writer Stephen King. The stories in the collection are titled "Mr. Harrigan's Phone", "The Life of Chuck", "If It Bleeds", and "Rat". It was released on April 28, 2020.[1]

The audiobook is read by Will Patton, Danny Burstein, and Steven Weber.[2]


The four novellas contained in the collection are:

Mr. Harrigan's Phone[edit]

Craig gets a job working for the retired Mr. Harrigan, who gifts Craig a winning lottery ticket. Craig then buys Mr. Harrigan a cell phone using some of the money won from the lottery ticket. Eventually, Mr. Harrigan dies and later, Craig leaves a voicemail on Mr. Harrigan's old phone about a bully. The bully is later found to have died by suicide. Craig then decides not to use the phone with Mr. Harrigan's number and switches to a newer model. Later, after the drunk driver responsible for a loved teacher's death receives a light sentence, Craig calls Mr. Harrigan's phone and leaves a voicemail about the drunk driver using his old phone. The drunk driver is then found to have died by suicide; following this, Craig throws his old phone into a lake.

The Life of Chuck[edit]

The story is split into three acts in reverse order.

  • In Act 3: 'Thanks, Chuck', Marty drives home and sees a billboard showing an accountant sitting at a desk, underneath it says ’39 Great Years! Thanks, Chuck’ as the world appears to be slowly crumbling. That evening as Marty visits his ex-wife Felicia he notices Chuck’s image appearing everywhere. In a hospital, Chuck is dying surrounded by his family. Marty and Felicia see the stars disappearing then blackness.
  • In Act 2: 'Buskers', Chuck sees a drummer busking in the street and starts dancing with them. A young girl joins starts dancing with Chuck and a crowd surrounds them. Later that day Chucks suffers a bad headache.
  • In Act 1: 'I Contain Multitudes', Chuck was orphaned and was brought up by his paternal grandparents, where his love of dancing developed. His grandparents always kept their house’s cupola locked, eventually Chuck unlocked the room where he sees himself dying…

If It Bleeds[edit]

Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency sees footage of a horrific school bombing on TV. She suspects that there is something odd about the reporter Ondowsky who was first on the scene and that he may be a supernatural 'outsider'. Holly makes contact with an elderly policeman who believes that the reporter feeds on the fear of traumatic emotions, and Holly realises that Ondowsky must be stopped. Her, Barbra, and Steve Must all work together to take down Ondowsky.

Gibney is one of King's recurring characters, having appeared in his Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch), and in The Outsider.[3]


Writer and academic Drew Larson has published several short stories but has been unable to complete a novel. Then he has the inspiration to write a Western thriller, determined to complete it. He sets out to an old, isolated family cabin, and begins to write; but then weather and sickness set in. Drew strikes a sinister bargain with a rat; it offers to get rid of his writer's block in exchange for one of Larson's loved ones dying. Thinking that Larson's imagination is getting the best of him he agrees and goes about his day. Finally, when the storm clears Larson returns home to his family. The novel is successful, his friend recovers but then is killed with his wife in an automobile accident.


USA Today's Brian Truitt awarded the collection 3½/4, saying, "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."[4]

Publishers Weekly said of the release, "The four never-before-published novellas in this collection represent horror master King at his finest, using the weird and uncanny to riff on mortality, the price of creativity, and the unpredictable consequences of material attachments."[5]

Kirkus Reviews summed up the release as "Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you're new to him."[6]

Film adaptation[edit]

On July 10, 2020, Deadline Hollywood reported that Netflix had acquired film rights to "Mr. Harrigan's Phone", to be produced by Blumhouse Productions and Ryan Murphy. "Rat" was optioned by Ben Stiller, who intends to produce, star and direct. Darren Aronofsky's Protozoa Pictures has optioned "The Life of Chuck", with Aronofsky to produce. "If It Bleeds" could be acquired by HBO, due to their use of the Gibney character in The Outsider.[7]


  1. ^ Squires, John (March 31, 2020). "Stephen King's New Book 'If It Bleeds' Now Being Released in April Rather Than May". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "If It Bleeds Audiobook by Stephen King, Will Patton, Danny Burstein, Steven Weber". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Haysom, Sam (March 14, 2020). "How HBO's 'The Outsider' differs from the book — and what that could mean for Season 2". Mashable. Retrieved April 12, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Truitt, Brian (April 21, 2020). "Review: Stephen King masterfully explores our dreams, frailties in 'If It Bleeds' collection". USA Today. Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "If It Bleeds". Publishers Weekly. February 21, 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "If It Bleeds". Kirkus Reviews. March 15, 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 10, 2020). "Stephen King Novella 'If It Bleeds' Draws Movie Deals From Netflix & John Lee Hancock/Jason Blum/Ryan Murphy, Two Others From Ben Stiller And Darren Aronofsky". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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