I’ve been in the car a lot lately, driving around for work. And while I love my satellite radio, I love my audible account even more. I’m listening to all of my favorite books, and it totally makes the time spent in the car seem less like work.
This morning, I finished The Wind Through the Keyhole (and started The Wolves of the Calla!), and I must say, I enjoyed it much more this time (my second time reading and reviewing…the first was for CBR4!).
The book fits into The Dark Tower series as book 4.5…it starts just as Roland’s Ka-Tet has left the weird emerald palace in the middle of not-quite-Kansas…and when it finishes, we have the Ka-Tet on their way to Calla Bryn Sturgis. But I really think it could work as a standalone book, and I might hand it off to Bunnybean to read. She really loved The Eyes of the Dragon, and this one has a really similar vibe to it.
The plot is simple. A huge storm is coming, so Roland and his friends find shelter. As they wait out the worst of the massive storm, Roland tells them a story from his youth (it takes place just after his “adventures” in Mejis), when he and his friend Jamie were sent west to solve a mystery plaguing a small town called Debaria.
Brutal, animalistic murders have been taking place on a massive scale. The locals are pretty sure that the horrific slaughters have been the work of a “skin-man,” which is more a less a shapeshifting man who transforms into a vicious animal at night.
When a local ranch is attacked, there is only one survivor, a small boy named Bill. Roland and Jamie swear to protect him, and to keep his nerves at bay, Roland tells him a story that his own mother used to tell him, the tale of The Wind Through the Keyhole.
And this is where it gets good.
This half of the book is (IMHO) one of the best things King has ever written. Like I mentioned, similar in feeling to The Eyes of the Dragon, it tells the story of young Tim, a boy living with his injured mother and his horrible, horrible stepfather. When his mother loses her sight after a terrible beating from her husband, Tim heads out into THE WOODS in order to find a cure for her blindness.
Tim’s journey is flat out amazing. The story within the story within the story gets 5 stars. And that doesn’t mean I don’t love the rest of the book…just that Roland’s adventures with Jamie don’t quite reach the storytelling heights of Tim.
King recently said that he’d like to revisit the world of the Dark Tower, and I imagine it would be through shorter stories like this, filling in the blanks about Roland’s life before The Gunslinger. I’m all for it.
The only negative to this story was in the narration. King himself did the job. And while it wasn’t awful, it certainly wasn’t great.