by Stephen King — a Coming of Age Dark Fantasy Novel
Released on September 6, 2022 — 608 pages
Being myself an avid fantasy reader and writer, this was a book I knew I had to read. The fact that I am a huge Stephen King fan is no secret, however, his fantasy works have not always been a huge hit for me. While I loved the novel, The Eyes of The Dragon, I didn’t find the Gunslinger series as satisfying. This novel has more of a feel and story tone similar to his work, The Talisman (it’s been ages since I’ve read this one, but I did enjoy it when I read it in the 90s).
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
The story revolves around a seventeen-year-old boy, Charlie Reade and an eclectic, elderly man, Mr. Bowditch and his German shepherd dog, Radar. Told through Charlie’s eyes, his long quest begins on the fated night when his mother dies tragically and his father plummets into a drunken stupor. In this tale, King loosely weaves in key elements of the classic Grimm fairy tales with the modern issues that society faces today.
One of King’s super powers, or given the topic, I should say his magic ability as a writer is his character portrayals. He finds a way to not only bring unique and memorable characters but makes them instantly relatable. They walk into your life like old friends and by the end of the work, you know you are going to miss them afterwards! Charlie and Mr. Bowditch are fine examples of this.
One of King’s areas of opportunity would be getting into the actual plot or reason for the story. Like in his book, Billy Summers, it takes about half the novel for the true story to begin. Although I did enjoy the story events and the character build up, King needs to find a way to “get to it” faster — several other book reviews online also listed this as a drawback and that he lost their interests by not bringing the reader to the heart of the work sooner.
The fantasy is well constructed and solid world-building aspects. The curse upon the land tugs at your emotions and the dungeon sequences makes you cringe then shout in glee. Overall, he gives a respectful nod to the past fairy tales and produces for his readers, an entertaining, modern take on fairy tales.
The narration is done masterfully by Seth Numrich, a renown broadway/television actor and by Stephen King who voices Mr. Bowditch. The performance of the story is brought to life by Numrich’s accents and theatre skills. An awesome play in your ears in other words.
In spite of the duration it takes to get to the true focus of the tale he is telling, this is a gem for any reader and a classic piece by Stephen King. Don’t pick up this 600+ page work expecting an all out fast pace race to the end, but sit down in your favorite chair and delve into the story, enjoying it like you would a leisure walk through the woods on a nice, Autumn day. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! For rating purposes, I would score this 4.25 of 5.