Jeremy's Reviews > The Talisman

The Talisman by Stephen King
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's review
Jan 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: stephen-king

"Ghost Story" (by eternally underrated Peter Straub) is probably the best horror story I've read. Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. While this isn't a 'great' book, it is helping me rediscover the pure joy of reading. I remember that Stephen King is one of the reasons I love reading, and this is a nice, entertaining fantasy/horror from two of the best in any genre.

In a story like this you have to love the good guy and absolutely despise the bad guys. Check. You have to have a journey that starts off obscure but then over the course of the journey explains everything. Check. You have to have a crazy awesome final showdown (really, really hard to do after you build it up for 600 or 700 pages). Sort of check. The only thing I really felt let down by was the bit toward the end where Jack finally enters the Black Hotel in search of the Talisman. What awaits him there is promised to be something awful, so bad that he might be driven insane. Didn't work so well. I'm not sure if King/Straub ran out of ideas or what, but that's the one part of an otherwise more or less flawless story that really stands out to me as lacking, almost unimaginative. But all in all, I liked it and am looking forward to reading the sequel (at some point).

Granted, I've read much more King than Straub but it seems like King had a heavy hand in the writing here and I struggle to make out Straub's voice...but maybe I'm not so familiar with it. One thing I wonder is how they divided up the task of writing.

It's also clear that he began to develop some of the themes here that would spill over into the Dark Tower books. Weird human/animal things, alternate worlds, an object that links them all (like the DT), a guy on a quest for that object, fate/destiny (ka in the DT world). I'm sure "Black House" picks up these themes in a more obviously DT-related fashion. It is fascinating seeing King (with an assist from Straub) work out some of the things that would be elaborated on in DT, especially since this seemed to be the beginning of non-DT books that began to reference that world in some oblique or obvious way.

That being said, it seemed pretty incomplete. I hope some of the loose ends are tied up in "Black House".

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