Stephen Foster's Reviews > Black House

Black House by Stephen King
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's review
Jan 30, 11

really liked it
Read from January 15 to 29, 2011

A solid read. Black House, the result of a collaboration between Stephen King and Peter Straub, is a sequel to their 1984 fantasy novel The Talisman. As far as I can recall these are the only collaborative novels I've ever read, and they both work surprisingly well. Perhaps keener eyes than mine could pick out which parts of the story were written by which author (supposedly they passed the story back and forth every 50-100 pages or so), but to me it flowed seamlessly. In the end I enjoyed Black House far more than it's predecessor though - somehow The Talisman never really engaged me like this book managed to. I think part of the reason is that Black House simply has a wider cast of more interesting characters. Creating great characters has always been a strength of King's, I feel, and he (along with Straub) shows it here. Unfortunately, crafting a satisfying ending has always been a notorious weakness of King's, and if Black House falls short in any regard, it's this. Decidedly anticlimactic, it almost seems as if the authors went out of their way to remove any possible sources of tension as the ending approached.

Regardless, it was an enjoyable story with strong characters, and well worth the read. And though I am usually reluctant to comment on writing style (pleading under-qualification), I have to say I really liked the narrative style of the book. The story was told largely through a self-aware, almost 4th-wall-breaking narrator, and somehow it really worked. The narrator sequences created a cool "tour-guide" vibe, as if the events of the novel were actually taking place, and we were simply being taken around to witness them. You could tell that the authors had fun writing those parts (and indeed, had fun writing the whole book). Clearly they work well together, and I look forward to reading the third book in the series, which is supposedly already in the works.
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