I read this book as a teenager, as a young adult, and now as a woman in her 30s. This story definitely holds up. I remember the first time I read "The Mist" (in the Skeleton Crew collection) that I was floored by how well King captured how human beings end up turning on each other in a crisis. This whole book is pretty much an adult "Lord of the Flies."
Told in the first person, David Drayton tells how the Mist came to their little corner of the world. After a huge summer thunderstorm leaves them without power and needing some repairs, David and his son Billy along with their neighbor Brenton Norman leave David's wife Steffy at home to visit the local store. While there all of the shoppers realize a strange mist is moving fast and it appears that something sinister lurks in the mist.
The way that the story sets up all of the parts to it (the headers give one some clue what is about to occur) was very well done. I recall being totally surprised by the ending as a kid because I was ready for some total end of days stuff here.
David becomes one part of the defacto leader in this story with the other townspeople being drawn to Mrs. Carmody.
Mrs. Carmody would definitely be that person who would blame a woman being out at night for why she was attacked. I recall hating her as a kid and my distaste for her came roaring back when I read and finished this again. I think it's because as an adult I have definitely met this character in real life more times than I would like to even admit to myself.
I also thought how well King showed how many people just to protect their own sanity refuse to even believe what has happened and instead blame others around them (Brenton).
The writing was typical King and to me that is not a complaint. The man knows how to turn a phrase. The flow from beginning to end was pitch perfect. What I thought was great was that King just gives a little nudge here and there with how the Mist and what comes out to play could be and he doesn't try to sit and over explain things. He knows the reader is going to be more interested in the people and what befalls them, not how did this thing get happen. This is one of the reasons why I love his earlier short story works.
The setting of "The Mist" is mostly the store. Some of the action eventually does move, but for most of the book this is where everyone is situated.
The ending does leave things a bit hopeful, but still sad all the same. I think the movie "The Mist" actually had the better ending just due to shock and also horror at bad choices the character of David made.