Title: Fairy Tale
Author: Stephen King
Audiobook Length: 24 hours and 6 minutes
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy
Read Start Date: December 23, 2022
Read Finish Date: February 13, 2023
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes deep into the well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets Howard Bowditch, a recluse with a big dog in a big house at the top of a big hill. In the backyard is a locked shed from which strange sounds emerge, as if some creature is trying to escape. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive amount of gold, a cassette tape telling a story that is impossible to believe, and a responsibility far too massive for a boy to shoulder.
Because within the shed is a portal to another world—one whose denizens are in peril and whose monstrous leaders may destroy their own world, and ours. In this parallel universe, where two moons race across the sky, and the grand towers of a sprawling palace pierce the clouds, there are exiled princesses and princes who suffer horrific punishments; there are dungeons; there are games in which men and women must fight each other to the death for the amusement of the “Fair One.” And there is a magic sundial that can turn back time.
A story as old as myth, and as startling and iconic as the rest of King’s work, Fairy Tale is about an ordinary guy forced into the hero’s role by circumstance, and it is both spectacularly suspenseful and satisfying.
My Review: Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and he is a brilliant story teller and writer. That being said, Fairy Tale was not among my favorites of his books. With elements of King’s Dark Tower series, and express mention of Grimm fairy tales, and other fairy tales and myths in the book itself, Fairy Tale felt like a retelling or a reimaging of old stories in King’s own style. Told in the first person, Charlie Reade even alludes to certain fairy tales by telling us, the readers, that this aspect of the story reminded him of Rumpelstiltskin, or that Charlie himself was like Jack, climbing the beanstalk to fight giants.
The first 30% of the book was probably my favorite, and it was literally ALL backstory. Charlie’s elderly neighbor Howard Bowditch takes a nasty spill, and Charlie (to atone for some bone headed stuff he did when he was younger) takes on a care-taker role, feeding Howard’s elderly German Shepard Radar, doing chores around the house, etc. There is some weird stuff going on in the shed in Howard’s backyard, but this takes second seat to the friendship developing between Charlie and Howard and Charlie and Radar.
When Howard dies suddenly of a heart attack, Charlie becomes not only the owner of Radar, but the owner of Howard’s house and all his possessions as well, including the weird shed and the even weirder noises that emanate from inside. Charlie learns that inside the shed is a gateway to another world, one that is in peril — one that holds a magical sundial that can turn back time and make the dying Radar young again.
The book held my attention up until the point when Radar was restored to youth, but when Charlie is captured by the evil forces threatening the realm and imprisoned, the story took a real noise dive into Snoozeville. The audiobook is 24 hours long, and at this point in the story, I felt every second of it. I feel like a lot of the details about this portion of the book could have been cut and the book wouldn’t have been worse for it (possibly it could have been better).
If you are new to Stephen King I would suggest reading some of his earlier work before picking up this one.
Space and Sorcery captures my thoughts so exactly, that I think you NEED to read his/her/their blog about it! You can find the same by clicking on the link here.
2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Fairy Tale by Stephen King”
Thanks for the review. Stephen King is very hit or miss for me and I’ve been wondering whether to give this book a shot. I’m thinking no, for now.
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I know what you mean! I LOVE Stephen King’s early work, but his new work is hit or miss for me too!