Book Review: The Wind Through the Keyhole

A story within a story within a story that's nestled somewhere in the middle of a seven book saga - that's the simplest way to describe the Master of Horror's newest release, The Wind Through the Keyhole. When Stephen King released the seventh book in his Dark Tower series, many readers thought that was it. Heck, even King may have. In the forward to this newest addition, he wrote, "I was delighted to discover my old friends had a little more to say. It was a great gift to find them again, years after I thought their stories were told." Maybe he's grown too attached to his characters. Maybe there was a more to say. King is a firm believer that stories write themselves. Whatever the excuse, the story of Roland the gunslinger and his ka-tet - or band of heros - clearly wasn't finished.

Those who have read the entire series would figure out that the events in The Wind Through the Keyhole take place between the fourth and fifth books, Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. Roland and his three companions, Eddie, Susanna and Jake, find themselves taking shelter from a starkblast - a raging, windy, winter-like storm in which the temperature drops so far below zero it causes trees to instantly contract with a pop. To pass the time, Roland begins telling a story from his youthful gunslinger beginnings. Not even old enough to shave, he was sent to a village where a beast had started mutilating and terrorizing the people. While investigating the situation, young Roland ends up watching over an orphaned boy, Bill, who's father was killed by what turns out to be a skin-man - a human that turns into different beasts. As they're hanging out in the local police station, using a jail cell as a temporary bunk, Roland begins telling Bill a tale his mother once shared with him called The Wind Through the Keyhole...

The longest section of the book, young Roland's tale is about another young boy, Tim, who looses his father and takes on a quest to set things right again. Seeking a cure for his mother, who's beaten and blinded by the man who takes her as his wife, Tim travels deeper and deeper into a dangerous forest and falls victim to the ploys of a tax collector with mysterious powers. As life threatening as his journey is, Tim must find the legendary Maeryln, a powerful wizard who holds the key to restoring his mother's sight. Young Roland's early wisdom becomes evident in the use of this story to prepare Bill for the trials he must face as the sole witness and survivor of the skin-man's most recent murderous rampage. Though I may have initially balked at the idea of yet another story related to the Dark Tower series, I was instantly drawn in to the multiple layers of this novel. It's definitely another treasure from a master storyteller worth checking out.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, William. As a devotee of poetry, do you think the Dark Tower series is as close to classic prose as we're going to see in popular 21st century contemporary literature? Or is a renaissance on the way? Personally, I fear the compressed sense of urgency foisted on this generation will preclude any re-emergency of wordcraft. People don't seem to have (or make) time to ponder and contemplate the deeper or intentionally disingenuous meaning of carefully culled words found in poetry and prose.
    Hopefully I'm wrong. But fear I'm not.

    *Morris Workman
    "Howl of a Thousand Winds"
    www.morrisworkman.com

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    1. I don't know, Morris - perhaps the next generation will revolt against that compressed sense of urgency and start paying more attention to crafting their stories. Trends do seem to be cyclical in that sense - hopefully the pendulum will start swinging back in the other direction. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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