Book Review – The Wind Through the Keyhole

The Wind Through the Keyhole is a story set in Stephen King’s Dark Tower world. Chronologically, it is book #4.5, set between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. However, the bulk of this story is not Roland’s, but rather his narration of another tale.

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by the author himself. Actually, The Dark Tower series were some of the first audiobooks I ever listened to.

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Here is the blurb:

Roland Deschain and his ka-tetJake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler—encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two . . . and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.

In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.

I’m sure it’s been at least ten years since I read the original series. It was nice to revisit Roland and his ka-tet, even if the story doesn’t dwell so much on them, but more on Roland’s past and a second story within that story. I think that placing this book after Wizard and Glass makes sense since that entire book relates Roland’s backstory as well. I’d have to re-read the series to see if it truly works there, as anything that follows the phenomenal Wizard and Glass has a lot to live up to.

The story of Tim Stoutheart was more involved, with greater room for character growth and a more intricate plot than Roland’s investigations into the skin-man. In many ways, it felt like an older fairy tale. I think that was partly because it filled that role for Roland in the way that it had been read to him by his mother, but also because it was set in a vague past and pitted the hero (Tim) against two different types of evil. However, the book doesn’t completely neglect Roland, showing some of how he deals with the loss of his mother. So in that respect, Tim’s own quest to save his mother is echoed by the recent loss of Roland’s, at his own hand.

Have you read The Dark Tower series? What did you think? Would you read it again with this book slotted into it’s place? Let me know in the comments.

Find more of my reviews here.

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