Last night I finished the final (maybe?) entry in Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series entitled, “The Wind Through The Keyhole” (TWTTK). TWTTK is the 8th book in the series and takes place between the fourth and fifth books, however, it does not need to be read in the correct order. If you have finished the series, you can jump right into this book.
As a Dark Tower book, it’s kind of a let down. But as a Stephen King book, it’s quite good. To my first point, I was extremely excited to read another tale with Roland’s full ka-tet. Susannah, Jake, Eddie, and Oy are some of my favorite characters ever and while King has, through comics and short story collections, continued to expand the Dark Tower story, the rest of his group have only been in the core novels. Unfortunately, they are barely in this novel due to how it is structured. This goes to my second point. TWTTK is a great Stephen King book because it is a series of short stories, and King’s books of short stories are outstanding.
The spoiler-free synopsis is that while traveling between the events of Book 4 and Book 5, Roland and his ka-tet encounter a starkblast, which is best described as a cold-weather hurricane. While riding out the starkblast in safety, Roland tells his ka-tet a tale of when he hid from a starkblast when he was a younger gunslinger. When he encounters a starkblast in that tale, we get to learn of a different starkblast tale that Roland told the boy he was with at the time of that starkblast. It is here that we get to TWTTK’s central story of Tim Ross and his journey to save a loved one. Tim Ross’ short story is very good and could easily have been a stand-alone short story in one of King’s collections. Wrapping it in a Dark Tower book is an unnecessary, but still welcome, little treat.
Even if you are not a fan of the Dark Tower series (shame on you), there is a lot to love in “The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole”. The harrowing tale of a young boy on a quest to save someone very dear to him is an incredible short story and a modern day version of a classic fairy tale (but with some adult themes) in it’s own right. This is not a stereotypical book from “horror master” Stephen King, but it’s not a stereotypical Dark Tower book from him either. The bottom line is that it’s a great fantasy novel that can be appreciated by someone who is not Dark Tower-obsessed like I am.