Another Tree for Our Forest

Wind Through the KeyholeThe Wind Through the Keyhole
Stephen King
Scribner, April 2012

Reviewed by Staff Writer, Ashley Scarr

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series began its publication in 1978 when “The Gunslinger” was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and was concluded in 2004 with the publication of the 7th book—or so we thought. The news of The Wind Through the Keyhole reached me through the questionable pages of Wikipedia, and honestly, I wasn’t so sure about King’s decision to add on another adventure. To me the story of Roland and his ka-tet (or band of friends, for all new to the realm of Midworld) was done, what more could be told?

Honestly, not much, but The Wind Through the Keyhole, much like The Gunslinger and The Wizard’s Glass was a story in another story within a story. The story takes place shortly after the 4th book and begins with our beloved ka-tet, and moves into a story from Roland’s past taking place shortly after the death of his mother and dealing with a Skinwalker terrorizing a salt mine. Through this story, Roland tells another story: The Wind Through the Keyhole. I’m pretty sure this was the story King wanted to tell all along. It’s a child’s tale in Gilead about Tim, a young boy of eleven, who has just lost his father, and whose mother is forced to take a second husband in order to pay the taxes. And of course, who could arrive in their village but the man in black? It’s a wonderful coming of age story full of magic, dark themes, and a journey taken in search of a miracle.

Tim is full of bravery and has a growing need to protect his mother. He is also a boy trying to learn and find answers—even if they are given by a man of questionable sincerity. He’s a lovable character, even if a bit frustrating because as veterans of mid-world, readers know you shouldn’t trust magicians dressed in black. Along with Tim, we are introduced to the fascinating Widow Smack, his friend and teacher. She is a strong woman who acts as Tim’s positive guide, but his determination, like most people’s, gets in the way.

But what of the ka-tet? Readers who missed Roland, Eddie, Suze, Jake, and Oi might be a little disappointed with their almost cameo-type bookend appearances in the beginning and the end. Actually, King seems to use them as an excuse to tell Tim’s story which is the bulk of the book, and very little development can be seen for the ka-tet. Although we are given an answer about Roland’s final feelings toward his mother and what happened, which might change future readings. I’m not sure—guess I’ve given myself a reason to reread the books. Not that I’d dream of complaining!

All readers, despite the ka-tet’s limited role, should be pleased to visit mid-world once more. The story of Roland is done, the journey’s over, but obviously the world itself still has a story or two it could tell of this world that’s moved on. It’s just as magical as it was, and King’s imagination certainly hasn’t dimmed. So I have to wonder: is this the last we’ll see of Gilead and the gunslingers?

Purchase The Wind Through the Keyhole:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Or visit Stephen King’s website

Characters: Swordsword-1

although drawn from King’s usual assortment of the unusual, they all are unique in their own ways and you can’t get much better than that.

Plot: Swordsword-1

a story in a story within a story, all with different interesting elements that touched on all three.

Creativity: Swordsword-1

King has a way of combining technology with the magical that is really difficult to find anywhere else

Unreality: Swordsword-1

adding an anecdote to a completed series isn’t the easiest thing, but by limiting the ka-tet’s involvement, and pulling the reader back into the strange world that’s moved on, King accomplished it.

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