TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Fairy Tale" - Stephen King (2022)
by Stephen King
Hardbook, 599 pages
Fairy Tale is an homage of sorts to the fairy tales of old. The tales that snuck horrific, disturbing acts of nastiness behind pictures of smiling faces. But Fairy Tale is much more than this. Stephen King delivers the goods in a piecemeal, meticulous fashion...taking his sweet, wonderful time setting up the details before embarking the reader on a familiar adventure of fantasmic proportions. And don't mistake meticulous and familiar for boring. King brings to these pages what fairy tales of old seemed to always lack. Well-developed characters. We are given persons we can recognize. And plenty of reasons to like, love, and empathize or dislike, hate, and despise. And for reasons more than just being good or bad.
We have Charlie, a likable, talented high-schooler, and Mr Bowditch, the grouchy old man on the hill. And his dog. (The dog exhibits no signs of Cujo, I assure you.) Other characters, for sure. But scrambled up in all this is a strange place that seems impossible. A world of magic and curses. Ordinary folks and not-so-ordinary other things. This world, created by King, is amazingly developed. I could see it. I could smell it. It is in this beautiful, dangerous place Charlie is tasked with becoming a hero.
King drops reminders of other fairy stories that are hard to miss, as well. Like Jack and the Beanstalk and Rumpelstiltskin. Constant readers of King's other novels might also have brief flashes of The Talisman and 11/22/63. But just teeny pieces of ideas from them. Nothing specific.
Fairy Tale is a bit long, I suppose, but a page-turner just the same. And there are some pretty cool drawings at the beginning of each chapter like books from olden times were wont to do. I always cover the drawing up with my hand until after I've read the chapter, before going back to check the picture out. (Am I the only one who does this?) There's also a nice quote from the book that hit home with me. "Time is the water, Charlie. Life is just the bridge it flows under." I'm not sure if that's a "Kingism" or just an old saying my ears missed, but it's a dagger.
"Wonderous Stories" - YES / "Going For The One" (1977)