Stephen King has written an astonishing number of bone-chilling books over the course of his half-century career as a novelist, but few are quite as brilliantly effective as Cujo. First published in 1981, it’s a claustrophobic tale about a woman and her son being trapped in a broken down car by a rabid Saint Bernard, and it features what is undeniably one of the most crushing conclusions in the King canon. It’s the kind of book that you can really only read once… which is in part why it’s eye-opening to hear that the author has finished work on a novella that he says functions as a sequel to the killer dog story.
Stephen King’s next novel, Fairy Tale, is set to be published in the fall, and he has confirmed that he has already written yet another book featuring protagonist Holly Gibney (from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, The Outsider, and “If It Bleeds”), but the prolific wordsmith confirmed to The Losers’ Club podcast that he has also finished a new novella titled “Rattlesnakes.” It sounds horrifying, and King noted that he sees it as a follow-up to Cujo. He said,
From his statement, it’s unclear exactly how “Rattlesnakes” connects to Cujo, but perhaps that will be an exciting thing left to discover when Constant Readers get a hand on a copy – much like how we discovered that his last three novels are linked to IT, The Shining, and The Dark Tower series, respectively.
Obviously this isn’t the first time that Stephen King has gotten into sequel territory. In addition to the aforementioned Holly Gibney books and The Dark Tower, he also has the Gwendy Trilogy (co-written with Richard Chizmar and released between 2017 and 2022); the Jack Sawyer duology (The Talisman and Black House, co-written by Peter Straub); and, of course, there’s Doctor Sleep – King’s follow-up to The Shining published in 2013 (which writer/director Mike Flanagan turned into one of the best Stephen King movies of all time).
Even without direct plot connections, if Stephen King is saying here that “Rattlesnakes” is a spiritual sequel to Cujo, readers should be in for one hell of a ride. If the novella packs even a fraction of the devastation that the 1981 hit does, we should be in for a treat.
We don’t have any release details for “Rattlesnakes” yet (it’s even unclear if it will be featured in a collection or released independently), but it instantly becomes an anticipated literary event. For more about Cujo, you can read my Adapting Stephen King column about the the Lewis Teague-directed adaptation that was released in 1983 (and features a performance King thinks should have won an Oscar). And to learn about all of the movie and television projects in the works that are based on the author’s writings, head over to our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide.