Stuff We Love: Stephen King’s The Wind Through the Keyhole is an enchantingly warped fairytale

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Aug 16, 2017

I always wanted to hear the dark fairytales. Not the ones with glittering princesses twirling around the ballroom of some crystal castle. The ones with cackling witches and chicken-legged huts and black magic that left you in some sort of amphibian form (frog or toad, depending on how wicked said sorcery was) forever.

These are the types of fairytales Stephen King tells.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is an interlude between the third and fourth books in The Dark Tower series, a breath of something frightening and fantastical before Roland’s ka-tet continue their journey into shadows infested with monster cyborgs. You would probably want to procrastinate when faced with that prospect anyway.

When an epic ice storm pummels the Path of the Beam, Roland conjures a dystopian Wild West that turns to an enchanted forest and back as an enraptured Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and even Oy listen half-dreaming by the warmth of the fire. I confess I was never really a fan of Westerns until The Dark Tower sent cowboys and vigilantes riding into supernatural territory. Roland’s tale begins as a memory of his teenage self and companions riding into the dusty mining town of Debaria, which has been terrorized by a shapeshifter that, in any form, is mostly claws and teeth.

As Roland keeps watch from a jail cell, watching over a young survivor who witnessed the Skin-Man and lying in wait for an assault on the thing when it morphs after nightfall, the story-within-a-story unfolds. Even the terrified boy huddled in the corner of the cell is swept away into a forest full of dark enchantments and even darker hearts. King tells this tale of human corruption and unfathomable triumph with brutal realism while lifting the magic veil from creatures and phenomena that are not of this world—yet somehow, there is a metaphoric element to them that makes them feel as if they are.

Darkness encroaches on the jail cell, and then the two stories entwine into something altogether different and beautiful and monstrous that you can only experience if you enter the portal through the keyhole.

Summon the book and get lost in a twisted fairytale as only King can conjure it.