The Wind Through the Keyhole – Stephen King (2012, Scribner, New York)
You don’t need to have read the other books in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series to enjoy The Wind Through the Keyhole, but it helps. In his foreword, King pretty much says the same thing, suggesting that Keyhole might find a place between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, as far as chronology goes. It’s been awhile since I read the series, so the timeline really didn’t make a difference to me…it was just so entertaining to revisit Mid-World, with all of its strange familiarity. If you haven’t been immersed in the tales before, you might not get that feeling.
Keyhole is a story within a story within a story, which sounds confusing, but isn’t. Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger of Gilead, and his companions Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy (all of whom you’ll be familiar with if you know the other stories) are stranded in an abandoned building during a starkblast, a deadly storm. To wile away the time, Roland tells his friends – and the reader – a story. It’s the bittersweet recounting of an event in Roland’s youth, during the time following his beloved mother’s death, when he was just gaining his footing as a gunslinger. Roland and another gunslinger are sent on an errand to unravel the mystery of a series of grisly killings performed by a beast-like man. During the investigation, Roland meets a frightened, orphaned young boy in desperate need of comfort – and, you guessed it, a story. So Roland delivers “The Wind Through the Keyhole,” the adventures of Tim Stoutheart, a legendary figure from the fairy tales of Roland’s boyhood. Tim Stoutheart’s quest to save his mother and avenge a terrible wrong mirrors Roland’s own troubled past, and all of the stories are beautifully framed by the mythology of Mid-World and its awe-inspiring, uncanny resemblance to our own world. Keyhole doesn’t have any of the weight of the rest of the Dark Tower novels, but it doesn’t need to. It’s purely delightful, candy for the fans, and a fun introduction to the world for anyone who has never previously visited. Now, I’m off to reread The Gunslinger….
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