Happy Friday everyone! The last book I finished in 2022 was Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Reading a book in December that came out in September is quite an achievement for me… and …well, I found it to be a perfectly average portal fantasy so this will be a pretty short post
I’ll say my only possible original thought first: I read half of the UK and half of the US versions and I’m glad they didn’t try to translate the UK text into Brit-Speak. The text and art is the same & only the cover changed (darn those pretty UK covers)! I just never think books translate well between the two dialects 🤷♀️
Anyway, let’s take a look at the book then I’ll share a few quick thoughts.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Fairy Tale
- Series: N/A
- Author: Stephen King
- Publisher & Release: Scribner, 2022
- Length: 608 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of King, Fairy Tale retellings, dark fairy tales, and dog lovers
Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:
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 seven, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world
For once I really do not have strong feelings one way or another about a King novel. I love stories about stories and the more the better. While he certainly pulled in a ton of traditional dark fairy tales (not the Disney versions 😅) and wound them all into a solid coming of age story, I just don’t think he did anything new or exciting here.
It’s a steady story with solid King prose. He pulls enough from The Dark Tower to make me wonder if the castle is the same one – probably. King loves to pull all his stories together and it’s my favorite part of the reading experience now to see what he is going to bring in from his own books and what other authors he’s going to call on. Hello Mr Lovecraft 👋
As I said, it’s 600 pages of solid story that just never really grabbed me except where the old dog was concerned. I have mixed feelings about portal fantasies at the best of times but King salvaged it with interesting world building and keeping my mind engaged with puzzles.
I like the themes he tackles too, from alcoholism to grieving parental loss, examining your own actions, and seeing how far someone is willing to go.
If you like portal fantasies and coming of age stories, gray heroes, curses and twisted tellings, if you’ve ever felt loyal to a dog and wondered what you would do to turn back the clock… I’d say check out Fairy Tale