Review: Fairy Tale by Stephen King

In 2020, I’ve finally read my first Stephen King book. This was The Institute and I honetstly enjoyed it. My first impression of this famous author’s work was good. Fast forward one year and I read Later, which unfortunately disappointed me somewhat. Salem’s Lot however was one I enjoyed untill the epilogue which was way too long. Now, King’s new book got released, Fairy Tale, which intrigued me from the moment I laid eyes on it. Was this book what I expected it to be?

Title: Fairy Tale
Author: Stephen King
Publication date: September 6, 2022
Publisher: Scribner
Number of pages: 608
ISBN: 9781668002179
Genre: Fantasy

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Beforehand, I didn’t know what to expect of this book. I have different experiences with King’s work, the one better than the other. Fairy Tale is also a very intimidating book because of it’s length. Oh well, I’ve survived Sarah J. Maas’ books with nearly 1000 pages, so this could only go well right? However, because of my different experiences, I was still a bit reluctant to start this book. Even though it intrigued me for a while already. That’s why I started reading this book quite soon after hauling it. And guys, I’m not disappointed. At all.

The story takes place in both our world and an alternate fantasy world called Empis. Charlie enters this world through a door in Howard Bowditch’s barn. This gives off Narnia vibes right? Well, let me tell you, this book is much more adult than Narnia. The characters face many challenges and difficulties. King excecutd them very well. In Empis, people are “cursed” and infected with a mysterious illness called “the Grey”. Because of this illness, they loose their ability to use their senses, or even loose parts of their bodies. Despite these challenges they live life to the fullest and this plays a key role in the story. However, there are characters that are not affected by this curse, Charlie amongst them. They happen to be the key to end this curse once and for all. Charlie even plays the most important role in it, without him even being aware. Of course he objects. The internal struggles of these characters are portrayed and excecuted properly.

Can we talk about the detailed storytelling and world building this author provides us with? I know it can slow the book down, but in Fairy Tale, that’s not the case at all. It takes a good amount of time before Charlie discoverrs Empis and the story picks up, but I wasn’t bored at all. The history of Charlie and Howard Bowditch was interesting to read as well, although it’s mostly Charlie fixing the house and discovering stuff. I don’t know what it is, but the writing drew me in from the start. Also, the world King created with Empis, has been crafted into detail. Tis way, it’s easy to picture this world whilst reading. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest elements of this book. Does it feel like a fairytale? Not really. It’s a little dark and grimm, but this book doesn’t fall into the horror genre. This is one off King’s fantasy works.

Although I was a little hesitant to pick Fairy Tale by Stephen King up, I have been pleasantly surprised. The writing drew me in from the start, even though the author takes a long time to build this story up. The world is rich and has been crafted into detail, the characters and their diversity have been portrayed and excecuted very well. Despite my different reading experiences with books by Stephen King, I can thick this one offf as very positive.

Have you read Fairy Tale or other books by Stephen King? What is your favourite?

2 thoughts on “Review: Fairy Tale by Stephen King

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