By David Canfield
October 03, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT

Started Stephen King‘s The Institute yet? Because if you haven’t, you better get going: The horror master is already gearing up for the release of his next book, If It Bleeds.

The book, set for release next spring, comprises four original novellas — the same format that provided the basis for iconic films like Stand by Me and Shawshank Redemption — that each, per publisher Scribner, “pull readers into intriguing and frightening places.” News of the new book comes on the heels of another triumph for King; his Institute debuted in the top spot on last week’s New York Times best-seller list. King’s most recently published novella, Elevation, published last year.

Shane Leonard

Details are sparse on what exactly the book contains, but EW can exclusively reveal the cover for the novel, as well as a first excerpt that hints at the worlds that readers will soon enter. Read on below. If It Bleeds publishes May 5, 2020.

Scribner

Excerpt from If It Bleeds, by Stephen King

[In January of 2021, a small padded envelope addressed to Detective Ralph Anderson is delivered to the Conrads, the Andersons’ next-door neighbors. The Anderson family is on an extended vacation in the Bahamas, thanks to an endless teachers’ strike in the Andersons’ home county. (Ralph insisted that his son Derek bring his books, which Derek termed “a grotesque bummer.”) The Conrads have agreed to forward their mail until the Andersons return to Flint City, but printed on this envelope, in large letters, is DO NOT FORWARD HOLD FOR ARRIVAL. When Ralph opens the package, he finds a flash drive titled If It Bleeds, presumably referring to the old news trope which proclaims “If it bleeds, it leads.” The drive contains two items. One is a folder containing photographs and audio spectrograms. The other is a kind of report, or spoken-word diary, from Holly Gibney, with whom the detective shared a case that began in Oklahoma and ended in a Texas cave. It was a case that changed Ralph Anderson’s perception of reality forever. The final words of Holly’s audio report are from an entry dated December 19th, 2020. She sounds out of breath.

I have done the best I can, Ralph, but it may not be enough. In spite of all my planning there’s a chance I won’t come out of this alive. If that’s the case, I need you to know how much your friendship has meant to me. If I do die, and you choose to continue what I’ve started, please be careful. You have a wife and son.

[This is where the report ends.]

**

Excerpted from IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King. Copyright © 2020 by Stephen King. Reprinted with permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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