Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Wind Through The Keyhole

My summer reading has gotten off to great start, and one book I finished very quickly was Stephen King’s new entry in his Dark Tower series, The Wind Through The Keyhole. It was a tremendously fun read, and my review follows this image of the book’s cover.

Within the novel’s first two pages, I found myself transported back to Mid-World with Roland and his ka-tet as if I had never left them. There is something spellbinding about King’s writing that has that effect. King calls this book Dark Tower volume 4.5 because it takes place immediately after the events in Book 4, Wizard and Glass, and ends right before the heroes reach Calla Bryn Sturgis, the setting for Book 5, Wolves of the Calla.

While the novel begins with Roland (the gunslinger) and his friends travelling along the path of the beam, it quickly shifts to a flashback tale about the young Roland who we got to know in the long flashback sequence in Wizard and Glass. This story begins shortly after the end of the Wizard and Glass flashback, and has Roland and a fellow gunslinger named Jamie chasing down a skin-man – a shape-shifter that’s committing widespread murder in a nearby town. Like Wizard and Glass, the story has the feel of an old western tale with the supernatural trimmings of the Dark Tower world King has so beautifully created. The tale of the skin-man is full of suspense and perfectly executed. King could write a dozen more flashback stories about the young Roland and I would buy them all.

Embedded in the flashback story, however, is a whole other tale called The Wind Through The Keyhole. Although it’s narrated by Roland, The Wind Through The Keyhole is a story his mother told him about events long ago (“Once upon a bye, long before your grandfather’s grandfather was born ...”). The story, about a boy named Tim who must survive with his mother after his father’s sudden death, is steeped in Dark Tower mythology and has almost a fairy-tale feel about it. In this sense, it reminded me a lot of another Stephen King novel, The Eyes of the Dragon. There ‘s even an appearance by Randall Flagg, if I’m not mistaken. The story is wonderfully engaging on its own, and after it ends, we still get to learn the fate of young Roland and the skin-man. The novel is shorter than King’s last several installments in the Dark Tower series (only 307 pages in hardback) and is a very quick read that reminds us how special King’s Dark Tower books truly are. I hope this book is not the last, for I’m certain there are more great stories about the young Roland that remain to be told!


Bob Milne said...

I quite liked the "The Wind Through The Keyhole" story within a story, and felt it was the strongest part of the book. The Roland flashback didn't seem to add anything to the overall Dark Tower storyline, however, and I was a little disappointing in that.

It was still nice to be transported back to that world again, even if for a short time.

Joseph Finley said...

Bob, thanks for the comment! I guess the only thing the skin-man story added to the overall Dark Tower storyline was the bit about Roland's mother at the end. Not much, I agree, but it was good fun to go back to Mid-World.