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September 10, 2012 / Amy Bradney-George

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King

I’m always excited when I get a new Stephen King book. He is one of the few authors who can always engage me (even when the stories are less than impressive), but I never really know what to expect.

Sometimes his new works are less entertaining and more frustrating (Lisey’s Story and Full Dark, No Stars spring to mind) but others keep me thinking long after I’ve turned the last page (Under The Dome and 11/22/63 are two of the more recent examples).

The entire Dark Tower series had me engaged for years. Some of the books I struggled with, and sometimes the addition of one Stephen King both delighted and horrified me, but I still think the series is one of his best creations. It’s one of those epic stories that you don’t ever really want to end, but the added magic with it was that when the end came I knew it was time. He had told all there was (or at least that’s what I thought).

The Wind Through The Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel.

So when I picked up The Wind Through The Keyhole and saw it was a Dark Tower novel, I had mixed feelings. Would Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake and Oy be as brilliant as I remembered? Or was this just King rehashing concepts in order to fulfil a publishing deadline? Was he revisiting Mid-World because he missed it, and would it be a nostalgic, indulgent story; or something else entirely?

I was excited but sceptical. I didn’t want Mid-World to start to feel old and worn, I wanted the magic to stay with it and I was worried that it might not be there.

Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it like coming home to old friends, but also nestled within a genius story structure. The Wind Through The Keyhole is a story within a story within a story. It happens after Roland and his ka-tet have left Emerald City, before they reach the Calla.

The context for our Mid-World friends is a storm that forces them to take shelter in an abandoned town. During that time Roland tells them about one of his first job’s as a young gunslinger, where Young Roland tells another boy a story that his mother used to tell him.

Structurally it sounds confusing (kind of like Frankenstein’s story in the story in the letter, now that I think about it), but King makes it flow so smoothly that it’s easy to follow the when and where of each chapter and the stories of every character.

Young Roland’s adventure is by turns emotive, intriguing, scary and touching as he and fellow gunslinger Jamie DeCurry hunt down a terrifying Skin-Man. During their search Roland finds himself consoling a boy who has lost his family and remains the only known witness to the Skin-Man’s transformation. Then the third story – “The Wind Through The Keyhole” – is told by Roland as a longer children’s fantasy that his mother used to tell.

This really is King at his best. Every story in the book adds more depth to Roland’s journey and the reality of the Dark Tower. It flows easily between the three narratives, to create a balanced, full picture of Mid-World.

Perhaps the success of this structure (and the book itself) has something to do with the writing process – as King wrote before it’s release: “It’s not going to change anybody’s life, but God, I had fun.”

You couldn’t ask for more as a writer, and as I reader I wouldn’t either.

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