The Wind Through The Keyhole – Stephen King
In a storytelling tour-de-force, Stephen King explores an uncharted corner of the Dark Tower universe and the early days of the gunslinger Roland with the twice-told tale of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” who inspires fear and wonder, fantasies and bedtime stories, and one boy’s savagely real nightmares.
This is a review of book #4.5 in the Dark Tower series. The review is spoiler-free, but you might want to check out my thoughts on book #1 (The Gunslinger), book #2 (The Drawing of the Three), book #3 (The Waste Lands), book #4 (Wizard and Glass), book #5 (Wolves of the Calla), book #6 (Song of Susannah), and book #7 (The Dark Tower).
Review: If you’re expecting another Dark Tower book, you’ll be disappointed with this one, but if you’re a fan of the Dark Tower universe, then this is a must-read. You’ll probably like The Wind through the Keyhole if you enjoyed book #4 (Wizard and Glass) because they’re very similar. Book #4 is my favorite in the series, and this one is my second favorite.
Roland and his band of gunslingers take refuge from a storm in an abandoned building. To pass the time, Roland tells two overlapping stories. One is the story of how he and his friend Jamie were sent to a small town to investigate a series of murders. The other story is a fairytale that his mother told him as a child.
The Dark Tower world is one of my favorite fictional universes, so I knew that I needed to read this book. It is considered a standalone because the events in this novel have very little to do with the actual series, but you’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve read the rest of the series.
I plowed through most of The Wind through the Keyhole in one day because I was having so much fun with it. It does not advance the plot of the series, fill in any gaps, or answer any of the questions that were left unanswered, but it does flesh out the world a bit more. Also, it’s a really entertaining story. I’m always impressed by Stephen King’s world-building skills and his ability to create truly terrifying villains.
I like the fairytale portion of the book better than the murder mystery part. The fairytale tells the story of an eleven-year-old boy who enters a dangerous forest to find medicine for his mother’s eyes. Along the way, he encounters dragons, parasite-infested swamp people, wizards, tigers, and his abusive stepfather. The tale is creepy and unpredictable and has a strong message about love and trust. It has all the elements that I like in a fairytale.
The other story is about Roland and Jamie’s quest to track down a “skin-man” who is terrorizing a remote village. They have to deal with incompetent law-enforcement officers and a scared eleven-year-old witness. The two tales are tied together at the end.
Even though this book doesn’t advance the series in any way, I love the side-trip to a part of the world that we don’t get to see in the other books.