Madeleine's Reviews > The Wind Through the Keyhole

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
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's review
May 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: head-in-the-clouds-nose-in-a-book, our-libeary, 2012, books-with-buttons
Read from April 24 to 29, 2012

I'd been staring at Amazon's coquettishly small representation of the "Wind Through the Keyhole" cover art for close to eternity. Some part of me feels like the artwork-to-come placeholder image wasn't entirely unlike the final version in terms of its whimsical, eerie similarity to our reality despite its marked otherworldliness, but bigger, more persistent parts of me are filled with impenetrable self-doubt and Guinness. The point: I've had a lot of time to obsessively wonder about what the hell could possibly be going on in the scene that would betray even just a shred of affirmed plot.

Sure, I could have easily gobbled up all the informational morsels that the internet has to offer, only to arrive at the actual book sated on spoilers, too full of fleetingly satisfying junk to enjoy the dazzling main course. And that would cheapen -- nay, ruin -- what deserves to be an act of pure, squealy fangirling in all of its resplendent nerdery. This is the first Dark Tower book that required me to wait longer than a bookshelf-ward stroll to grab the next volume in a series that took the author's near-fatal accident to nudge toward its conclusion: Some weird sense of solidarity or masochism or delayed gratification made me feel obligated to tough out the months of anticipation in a spoiler-free bubble. I wanted a taste (albeit a rather watered-down one) of the unique agony that longtime fans of the series have become all too familiar with.

I know I generously heap on the references to all things yielding to the Tower whenever I get the chance, which I'm sure has grown to be about as hilarious as Pink Floyd fans' dogged determination to exit every conversation with an alternately deadpan or entirely too overeager "Shine on, you crazy diamond" (uh, sorry for those, too), but it's no exaggeration. Glen Duncan, my absolute favorite living writer who isn't Aaron Sorkin, also happens to be publishing a new book this year, and don't think I haven't already scoured every British bookselling site I could find to get my hands on a copy of "Talulla Rising" (my copy is allegedly coming about a month prior to its stateside release date but getting my hopes up on that front has been an exercise in repeated heartbreak): "The Wind Through the Keyhole" is still the novel that I've been looking forward to with the most rabid, shameless impatience I've displayed since I was but a wee lass who was still 20 years from learning how to control her emotions.

Aside from the excruciatingly great care with which Sai King has taken in crafting Mid-World, one of the things I love best about TDT is the characters populating these books. I generally prefer the supporting cast when it comes to multi-book series, like Davos in "Song of Ice and Fire" or Sirius in "Harry Potter." I have such a weakness for the underestimated underdog, which makes it hard for me to automatically glom onto the main character. That was never a problem with "The Dark Tower" because Roland is a fucking animal. What do you need to know about Roland Deschain? Stephen King wrote himself into his own series because he's so pants-shittingly afraid of not making amends with this fictional character he's been raining misery on for decades.

As much as I love Roland's second ka-tet, it didn't really bother me that Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy didn't get much face time in this installment (but, man, can Sai Wordslinger still write these characters like he's never stopped). Roland has a hell of a backstory so I always enjoy getting to see a little more of it. I was honestly in tears when he talked about his mother toward the end of the novel. Since I just read "The Gunslinger" not that long ago, Roland's harsher, all-death-and-business gunslinger persona is freshest in my mind; getting a glimpse of what makes him so heartbreakingly human was a sobering reminder of the layers of sadness and well-hidden vulnerability residing beneath Long, Tall and Ugly's gruff demeanor.

It was that sense of familiarity that really sucked me in and didn't let go 'til the author's afterward. The two divergent tales within this story could not have worked in any other King book (maybe "Eyes of the Dragon," but that's it): The tale of Tim Stoutheart especially was just dripping with Mid-World's magic. Hell, I even felt a little thrill of recognition when The Man in Black dropped by to indulge his devious hobbies. Being treated to both another installment of Roland as a Young Gunslinger and a Gileadean fairy tale made for such ecstatic escapism that it almost ruined reading for me. Seriously. It's a good thing that I still have some unread novels penned by my favorite authors to dig into, otherwise I'd be in a bit of a reading slump. The Tower is always a hard act to follow.

When I finally got to the scene with the tyger, the boy and the forest -- as depicted by this enchantingly immersive tale's lush covert art -- I was blissfully hungover, curled up on my couch and surrounded by some pretty awesome folks who were thankfully engrossed in the kind of movie everyone enjoys after a night of good food, great times and some mighty fine company. What can I say? I couldn't let a quiet opportunity for devouring a few more chapters pass me by. It's been a long time since I read a Dark Tower novel for the first time, and finding out that there's still something so tangibly transportive about tumbling headfirst into Roland's world was comforting in its familiarity. Sai King, never stop answering the call of Mid-World.

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Reading Progress

04/24/2012 "If you listen real closely, you can probably hear me dancing happily."
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