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Review: The Wind Through The Keyhole

An enjoyable read from the mixed genre chutney, if you have the appetite for it

books Updated: May 18, 2012 18:25 IST

The Wind Through The Keyhole

Stephen King

Hachette

Rs 999 pp 332

For those new to Stephen King’s Dark Tower fantasy series, The Wind Through the Keyhole is the eighth installment of gunslinger Roland’s adventures. True to its word, the story can be read as a standalone, and enjoyed. But, it might not appeal to all, not even loyal fans of King, as he takes you on a long and winding journey in a dystopic fairytale fable-land where cowboy western meets Wizard of Oz, science fiction meets the magical realm of CS Lewis, and those who can’t stomach this spicy mixed genre chutney, are likely to be put off.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is three stories intertwined in one and takes place between the fourth and the fifth books in the series. Roland and his ka-tet (gang) are on their way to way to the Dark Tower when they are forced to take shelter to avoid the starkblast (storm). Camped for the night, Roland decides to tell the story of the skin-man, a shape-shifting murderous beast that haunts the salt miner’s town called Debaria, where he was sent as a youth by his father (lord of a protective outlaw band) to rid the evil. While investigating the crime scene of a recent attack, he finds young Billy, a terrified survivor, who has just become an orphan. To provide comfort to the lad, as they round the suspects for him to identify, Roland tells him the story of The Wind Through the Keyhole; a tale his mother (who he inadvertently killed and still carries the guilt) used to tell.

In the third part of the story within a story, we meet Tim Ross who lives in a village next to a dangerous magical forest. In order to avenge his father’s death, and restore his mother’s blindness, he must cross the enchanted wood and face the ‘Covenant Man’, a wizard/tax collector, reptiles coiled in trees, swamp creatures, mutants, a dragon, and a tiger under a spell.

As King puts it, “A person’s never too old for stories”, and this book has enough thrilling episodes that offers glimpses of the grand storyteller of horror and fantasy at work. While the old-world-speak the characters use can be annoying, it remains an enjoyable read. A special mention must go to the rich, dark illustrations by Jae Lee accompanying the tales.