Wind Through the Keyhole, The
by Stephen King (2012)
What a wonderful diversion. I am in awe of Stephen King’s yarn-spinning capabilities, and I really feel that he’s at his best when he visits his perfect little Mid-World, a fabulous creation that is at once surprising and familiar. He has created this alternate world that feels amazingly natural and comprehensive, drawing on multiple sources to imbue it with a mythical, archaic aura that’s on par with the best alternate realities I’ve ever read — LOTR, The Once and Future King, The Princess Bride, and even Star Wars as chief among those ranks.
This is not essential to The Dark Tower series, but boy is it fun, and King’s simple set-up is also kind of brilliant. You can’t go wrong with Roland Deschain as your guide. Plus there’s a nice emotional pay-off at the end that works really well if you read it after Wizard and Glass. I have to say I’m glad I read it before finishing the series, and not in the order of publication; I think it would have felt somehow inappropriate, or maybe gratuitous, to read it after already knowing everyone’s fate.
It’s not quite hefty enough for 5-star status, but if you pick it up you can be sure to pass several hours with a master storyteller. It’s not even really necessary to know Dark Tower beforehand. The title story reminds me a little of Gaiman’s recent The Ocean at the End of the Lane.