“The Wind Through the Keyhole” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2012)

The Wind Through the Keyhole
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To the delight of many fans across the globe, Stephen King returns to his familiar Mid-World in this new Dark Tower tale with The Wind Through the Keyhole.  King has fun here, with the book set between the fourth volume, Wizard and Glass and the fifth, Wolves of the Calla, as he tells a story within a story within a story.

Roland and his ka-tet are on their way once again, getting ever closer to the Dark Tower.  He has told his story of his first love, Susanna, and how he lost her.  Now they are crossing into new terrain when they see Oy, Jake’s billy bumbler, acting very strange, spinning in circles.  Fortunately, Roland knows what this portents: the coming of a devastating storm known as a starkblast, which will ravage and instantly kill anyone exposed to its wrath.  The group travels quickly to an abandoned town and manages to get safe inside the one stone building just in time, with a big roaring fire as the mighty storm hits.  Knowing they will be stuck inside for a while, Roland begins to tell the first of two tales.

He tells the story of the “Skin-Man,” he who can change into any animal shape he chooses, who has been devastating a town, killing its people in horrific numbers.  Young gunslingers, he and Jamie DeCurry are charged to go to Debaria and stop this evil thing.  The two find themselves in deeper, deadlier waters than they expected, as they put the pieces of the mystery together and narrow down who this skin-man might be.  Roland befriends a young lad named Bill Streeter, who has lost his parents to this monster.  As the two find themselves hanging out in a jail cell for a while, waiting for others to return, Roland begins his second tale, telling it to young Bill, in the story of “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”

It is a story Roland was told by his mother when he was a child, of Tim Stoutheart, and how he lost his wonderful father and despaired as his mother married a man he didn’t trust.  Soon the man takes to drinking and beating on his mother.  Using a piece of magic delivered by the taxman who bears more than a striking resemblance to a well-known black magic wizard, he learns what this supposed best friend of his late father truly is and plans his revenge.  It is a tale to inspire and give courage to those who need it most.

Whether you’re well-versed with the Dark Tower series or not, King openly admits at the beginning that you don’t need to be to enjoy The Wind Through the Keyhole.  He gives a brief page of summary to catch a new reader up and then sets them free on his stories.  And for those who love this series, while you won’t necessarily get the same enjoyment out of it as you might a lengthy Dark Tower volume, this book is certainly entertaining and enchanting in its way, and deserves to be added to the shelf with the other volumes of the epic series.

Originally written on May 18, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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