I have read some great books this year, but I think I have just read the best yet with Stephen King’s Fairy Tale. I have always loved Stephen King’s writing, and with so many to choose from its hard to pick out an absolute favourite, but I think Fairy Tale has to be my favourite one of his books. Wow! What a story.
At 75 years young the master storyteller, the King of Horror, Stephen King is still writing novels (he has written in excess of 70 books and 200 short stories), and they just keep getting better and better – although he doesn’t just write horror stories – he also writes supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels.
The master storyteller returns with a fantastical fantasy/thriller/horror story based around fairy tales – but not fairy tales that you would tell your children, this is the dark side of the fairy tale, the more menacing, dangerous and evil side of the tale. Fairy Tale is a spellbinding story of parallel words, dispelled monarchy, a mysterious city, lurking evilness, and a reluctant hero.
Once upon a time there was a teenager called Charlie Reade, the protagonist and narrator of the story. He hadn’t had the best start in life with his mother being killed when he was young and his father turning to drink to cope, leaving Charlie to grieve for his mother whilst caring for his alcoholic father. He even went through a bad period himself, getting involved with bad and stupid things with a friend. But as things went on, his behaviour improved, his father got help for his alcohol addiction and they both got their lives back on track. Happy ever after? Well not quite. That’s just the beginning of the story.
17 year old Charlie is a good student, better athlete (plays on the school football (American) and baseball teams) and has blossomed into a very good caring person. One day he comes across Mr Howard Bowditch, the reclusive old man who lives in the creepy house at the end of the street, who has fallen and broken his leg. He starts to take care of Mr Bowditch and his monster dog (think Stephen King’s Cujo), a German Shepherd named Radar, until he can get back on his feet. Charlie falls in love with Radar, who is anything but a monster, and comes to think of Mr Bowditch as a friend.
But then tragedy strikes, and Mr Bowditch dies. He leaves his house and everything in it to Charlie, along with his beloved dog Radar and a cassette tape with a story that is for no one else’s ears and certainly not a story that anyone would believe. The story details Mr Bowditch’s secret – a secret he has kept all his long life. Inside the garden shed is a portal to another world, a world with untold riches and a magic sundial that could make the aging Radar young again.
As Radar starts to get sicker and clearly not long for this world, Charlie decides to take the risk and see if the magic sundial exists and if it does, does it work? He enters the shed and descends a well, travelling to a disease ravaged world – a disease called the Grey. When he enters this parallel world, he finds people who are turning grey and have strange deformities, a haunted city filled with the dead and the magic sundial that can turn back time. But to escape this world and return to his own he must first to battle to save this new world.
Overall, Stephen King’s Fairy Tale is a monster of a book at nearly 600 pages (hardback version) but is definitely worth the read. The first third of the book starts at a relatively slow pace, albeit interesting enough, whilst it is building the tale, then bursts into a much faster more exciting and thrilling story that you just can’t put down.
Once Charlie enters the other world, the pace certainly quickens and even the language changes. We are introduced to a whole host of loveable, nasty and even evil eldritch characters like the little old show lady, Leah – a displaced princess but not from a galaxy far, far away, the electric dead night soldiers, child-eating giants and the Flight Killer. As Charlie embarks on his quest there are plenty of references to fairy tales, like Rumpelstilskin, Jack and the Beanstalk and lots more, but a darker, more sinister version of them, along the way.
This is no feel-good fairy story. Charlie must battle to save not only his life but the lives of the people of this new land. And it will be a bloody battle. There is plenty of violence and death but it is balanced out with Charlie’s very caring side and his love for Radar.
Stephen King has written an excellent story featuring a dead city, fairy tale characters and a very reluctant hero. His writing is excellent, with scenery and characters beautifully described so that you can envision that you are there right beside Charlie. The characters are brilliant and the whole story is just captivating.
Fairy Tale is an excellent read. It starts off at a slower pace, the middle speeds up a lot and the final part takes off, it left me reading into the early hours of the morning because I was so lost in the tale that I lost track of time and had to know how it ended. Does it end in happy ever after? I won’t tell, you will just have to read it for yourself and find out.
For me, this is definitely the best book I have read this year and probably one of Stephen King’s best. Whilst it may be a book written loosely around fairy tales and other stories we have read or heard, Stephen King has enhanced these stories and added in his own very unique warped but brilliant imagination and created his own wonderfully entertaining magical story.
Fee-fi-fo-fum … Stephen’s King’s Fairy Tale certainly won’t leave you glum! An epic story with giants, fairy tale characters, horror and pots of gold. King at his creative best.
RRP: £22 (Hardback) – currently half price at £11 / £12.99 (Kindle)