Eric Allen's Reviews > The Wind Through the Keyhole

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
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May 01, 12

Read in May, 2012

The Wind Through the Keyhole
A Dark Tower Novel
By Stephen King

A Review by Eric Allen

For someone who claims not to be much of a Stephen King fan, I sure seem to read a lot of his books.

In my younger years, when I was really just starting to explore my tastes in reading materials, I started to bring home Stephen King books from the library. Why? For two reasons. First, was that carrying them around school was considered cool. And the second was that it really pissed my mom off. I had exhausted my library's supply of King's books when they got a new shipment in, a reprinting of the first two Dark Tower novels in preparation for the release of the third. The first was called The Gunslinger. At that time in my life, I really liked westerns. I had just seen High Noon, and I thought Gary Cooper was about the most marvelous badass that ever lived. To find a book that both served the dual purpose of pissing my mother off, and making me look cool at school, AND was about something that interested me was like stumbling upon the holy grail.

And so began my journey with Roland and his Ka-tet across Midworld toward the dark lands of Outworld, Discordia, and the Dark Tower itself. Before that time I had only read maybe two of Stephen King's books that I actually enjoyed, but I was pulled into the Dark Tower. It had great characters, interesting places, a dying world with a mysterious and rich history, and it incorporated all of my favorite genres, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Western and Horror, into one. I liked the idea of many worlds around our own, sometimes touching and mingling, and the thought of a threat to the Tower at the center that held everything together. I eagerly awaited the next book, though the wait between was sometimes quite ridiculous because King was basically making the story up as he went along and did not know how it was going to end. I even enjoyed the last couple of books that most fans thought were rather bad, and I absolutely LOVED the total mind-screw of an ending. When I had finished the final book, it began to set into me that there would never be another Dark Tower novel to look forward to. It was over and done with. And this made me rather sad, as a goodly portion of my life had been spent reading and eagerly awaiting the next of these books.

Much to my surprise, and pleasure, I found that Stephen King was not quite done with the Dark Tower as of yet. He had another story yet to tell, and it was coming out soon.

The Wind Through The Keyhole takes place between books four and five of The Dark Tower. Roland's Ka-tet must take shelter from a terrible storm in an abandoned town, lest they be killed by the freezing temperatures, and the furious winds. As the storm pounds down upon their shelter, Roland is asked to tell a story in order to pass the time. He does them better. He tells two. The first, a story about his younger years as a Gunslinger hunting down a shape changing murderer imbued of dark powers with his friend Jamie, a character previously only mentioned in other novels. And the second, a fairytale that his mother often read to him as a child that helped to shape him into the man he is now. The fairytale being the much longer of the two.

The Good? It was wonderful to see all my favorite characters again, no matter how briefly it was. And seeing more of Roland's past was also fun. He has always been such an enigmatic character, whose past is largely a complete mystery. I also greatly enjoyed the fairytale, about a boy seeking a cure for his mother's blindness. It's a simple tale full of important lessons for children, much like fairytales from our own world. It shows a different perspective on the world of the Dark Tower that was previously unseen, that of a character not bound to the quest for the tower, or the Gunslingers, or Gilead. It shows some of the past, and the superstitions of those who live in this world, and makes it feel a bit fuller and more real. It also sheds some light on what shaped Roland into the man that he is today, and that was a very enjoyable thing, because we really know so little about him, though he is the main protagonist of the story.

Again, I really have to compliment the fact that Stephen King really seems to have grown up a little in his later years. His use of crass humor is at a minimum in this book, and there's only one or two instances of the prolific cursing that he is so famous for. One of these instances was played for comedy and I actually did laugh out loud at it, because it was so unexpected. When cursing is kept to a minimum as it was here, and only used for punctuation of extreme emotion or comedy, rather than used so much it becomes meaningless and repetitive it is so much more powerful. There wasn't even a single sex scene in this book, which has to be a first for King. The fairytale is rather imaginative, and very well told. King is really surprising me of late by putting out some really good writing that he's never quite managed to do up until these last few books of his.

The Bad? Not enough of Roland and his Ka-tet. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this book is taken up by the fairytale of The Wind Through the Keyhole, and Roland and company are barely in the book. The story about searching for the shape changing murderer is very short, and not particularly interesting or suspenseful. When I heard that this book was going to be another flashback to Roland's younger years I was very excited to see the epic events of the Fall of Gilead or the breaking of Roland's first Ka-tet, riding into the last battle, riddled with bullets already, but fighting with their last breaths to hold the failing old ways together. But none of these great stories are told, and the tale of the Skin Man is rather dull and uneventful. This story is rather bland and emotionless, basically only an excuse to incorporate the fairytale into the story. It doesn't really show us anything new about Roland's past or character as Wizard and Glass did, or do a very good job of introducing Jamie to us. It seemed like a moment of "This is the story I want to tell, but the fans won't take it unless I give them some of this over here as well."

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. Despite the fact that my favorite characters are barely in it at all, and the flashback to Roland's past was rather lacking in anything really all that interesting, I found it to be quite enjoyable as a fan of the Dark Tower series. I really did enjoy the story within the story titled the same as the book. It was a fun, if somewhat simple, story with some really good life lessons in it. I found it to add another stroke or two of color to the vast and mysterious world of The Dark Tower series. I believe that this book could probably stand alone, and be picked up and understood by someone who has not read The Dark Tower, but a few small things may not make much sense unless you do.

I give this book four stars. I really liked the fairytale portion of the book, and the first chapter with all of the Dark Tower regulars before Roland begins his story, but the flashback to Roland's younger years was rather disappointing and bland. For a series that I thought was over, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this book, and I am glad that I read it, because it was pretty entertaining, if not exactly what I was expecting. I can only hope that Stephen King does write the book I was hoping for one day, until then, I'm happy with this one. It is a great addition to an excellent series.

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