Stephen King's The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012) is what faithful fans of his Dark Tower series, myself included, have spent years waiting for. No, not word of yet another TV or film adaptation that will ultimately be relegated to the clearing at the end of the path. A new novel!
The Wind Through the Keyhole falls in between Wizard and Glass and The Wolves of the Calla, and so can be considered volume #4.5 of the Dark Tower. During their journey away from the Emerald City, Roland and his ka-tet are forced to seek shelter from a once-in-a-generation storm known as the starkblast. With all hell breaking loose outside, Roland settles down to tell a tale that harkens back to the year following his mother's death when gunslingers were still a force of law in Mid-World.
Roland is sent by his father to investigate a series of mysterious deaths in an outlying holding thought to be the work of a skin man, aka a shapeshifter. In the aftermath of a fresh attack by the skin man, he befriends a boy who has lost his entire family to the creature. To calm him down and lend the boy strength, Roland relates a bedtime story told to him by his mother (who is oft on his mind in the wake of her death)--the legend of Tim Stoutheart and his dealings with Marten Broadcloak (aka the Man in Black, Randall Flagg), agent of the Crimson King and longtime nemesis of Roland himself.
The story of Tim Stoutheart and his coming of age provides the bulk of The Wind Through the Keyhole. Through this narration, we get a portrait of the world before it has moved on (an aspect of the series which I find particularly interesting). All the usual suspects that make the Dark Tower universe so compelling are there: cowboys, gunslingers, wizards, dragons, North Central Positronics, etc. Tim's story is heartfelt and quite charming, adding a light interlude to relieve the otherwise on-the-whole gritty series. Coming right off the events of Wizard and Glass, I think even the heartiest reader could use a bit of a breather!
While The Wind Through the Keyhole doesn't add heaps to the overall Dark Tower narrative, it nicely gives some further insight into Roland's character, particularly as it relates to the tragic circumstances of his mother's death.
It was really fabulous to spend some time with Roland and his ka-tet again, for I have rarely felt more of a connection to a group of characters. There was the merest whisper of a hint that we might not have heard the last of Tim Stoutheart, so here's to hoping that King will treat us fans to more of the Dark Tower in the years to come!
A final tidbit: one of the guardians of the Beams, who just happens to be a lion, is named Aslan! How cool is that?
As a Dark Tower fan, I was greatly anticipating the release of this book. I was curious to see where King was going to go with this and was happy at the end result. This story fits in between books 4 & 5 of the Dark Tower series. It doesn't really go into much broader detail about the ka-tet but is more of a story within a story within another story. It is done up well and at the end we know a little more about the young Roland and his mother. It starts off with the ka-tet making their journey and having to seek shelter from an upcoming storm. When found they cozy in and wait for the storm to pass and in the meantime Roland tells a story from when he was younger. In that story his younger self tells of another story. It was very enjoyable to go back to Mid-world and wouldn't mind doing it again.
As for the audio cd on this book - please note that it is read by King himself. And while King does a much better job writing than reading aloud, it is still tolerable but not the best read audio out there.
If you have read all 7 books before or haven't read one, this book is still a great pick up. I wasn't impressed though, looking forward to the release thinking it would pick up where the last book left off is not so, but if you are a full fledged fan of the series you know why. You could call it The Dark Tower 4.5(King himself calls it that in the forward). However it is a great read, as King does so well it is a story inside of a story with a story inside of the second, 3 stories with one goal...Read it and see for yourself. It is quite interesting to go with Roland back to his early days of being a gunslinger. More personal insight on the character is great, considering the mystery and charm Roland offers.