Review | The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King (Hodder)

Title: The Wind Through The Keyhole
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder
Format: Hardback
Release Date: April 2012

Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com

For readers coming to the epic bestselling Dark Tower series for the first time - and for its legion of dedicated fans - a fabulous new book about Roland's first quest and a perfect introduction to the series.

For readers new to The Dark Tower, THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE is a stand-alone novel, and a wonderful introduction to the series. It is a story within a story, which features both the younger and older gunslinger Roland on his quest to find the Dark Tower. Fans of the existing seven books in the series will also delight in discovering what happened to Roland and his ka tet between the time they leave the Emerald City and arrive at the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis.

This Russian Doll of a novel, a story within a story, within a story, visits Mid-World's last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, and his ka-tet as a ferocious storm halts their progress along the Path of the Beam. (The novel can be placed between Dark Tower IV and Dark Tower V.) Roland tells a tale from his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt ridden year following his mother's death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape shifter, a "skin man," Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast's most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime, 'The Wind through the Keyhole'. "A person's never too old for stories," he says to Bill. "Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them." And stories like these, they live for us.

The Wind Through The Keyhole is the eighth Dark Tower novel from Stephen King, though events contained within places it as book 4.5 in the series. When it was announced that King was writing a new Dark Tower instalment I was cautiously optimistic, wondering just how he was going to slip in another volume to an already finished series, especially with it placing halfway through. The Wind Through The Keyhole was always going to be on my to-read list, especially with the series as a whole amongst my favourites. A story within a story, The Wind Through The Keyhole is an interesting book. It's not long, and with two tales in a short page count it does remarkably well.

With a storm brewing, Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy take cover to let it pass. With a long wait in store Roland begins to tell a tale of his younger Gunslinging days, not long after his return from Mejis and the events that unfolded there, and after the untimely death of his mother at his hands. Sent to investigate murders by a rumoured skin man, Roland and his partner gather evidence of these murders, which in turn leads Roland to Bill Streeter, a young boy who survived one of the attacks, and the only person that could possibly identify the killer. It is with young Bill that he recounts another tale: The Wind Through The Keyhole.

The titicular story is perhaps the best starting point, and the stand out of the novel by far. The story that King tells here shows off many things: his ability as a storyteller, creating characters and situations that can completely hook the reader, and the level of background detail the Dark Tower universe has. It's a mythical story that includes everything that I've come to love about the books, while adding more depth in, what is at first glance, simply another tale. This story could easily be a stand-alone novella, not necessarily needing the other part of the novel, but it works very well in such context. The rest of the novel is still very enjoyable, and adds more history to Roland, giving us a little more on his background as a young Gunslinger. It also shows much of how Gunslingers work when looking into murders and such, and does so with ease.

One of the main aspects of this novel that I needed answering was whether or not it could fit halfway through a finished series without raising further questions. The answer is simple: yes. Because the structure of The Wind Through The Keyhole is that of past events narrated by Roland, it fits in without any hitches at all, and begs the question: when will we see more of these stories?

As a long time Dark Tower fan I came away more than satisfied, and I'd even go as far to say that even a non-reader of Stephen King's epic could easily enjoy what is within these pages. Of course, you'd benefit more if you read the series...

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