So, this is one hell of a book for a lot of reasons. Some of those reasons are typical of Stephen King’s works, and others are not. There are hints and outright homages to others of his stories and novels throughout. There is the whisper of a Billy Bumbler in odd places, and a taste of Gilead. Then, there are the same hints and homages to classic and modern fairy tales. There is magic, and evil, heroism and darkness, and, to me, there is a message that shines through.
All of the stories are one big story. We’ve seen King draw his universes and worlds together, opening portals and doorways between them, but in Fairy Tale he manages to open new ones, and usher in the characters and stories of others to play in his world, while he manipulates theirs in turn.
On the surface it’s a great coming of age story about a boy who, through strange circumstances, grows up much more quickly than would otherwise have been the case, learns of love and loss, learns to put something more important before his own needs and desires – and learns this more than once.
But in this coming of age, there is magic. I won’t provide any spoilers, but there are two things in this book that you will find mostly absent in other books by Stephen King, and they felt, to me, as if they filled some slight chinksin in the armor of an amazing army of words.
This is the first book in a very long time that I literally thought about when I could not read and tried to find ways around work and life to get back to it.
I listened to the audio edition, and Seth Numrich, combined with King himself playing a part, brough a very diverse set of characters to life. They were distinct, not forced… just beautifully performed.
Could not be more highly recommended.