Stephen King’s The Wind Through the Keyhole is a standalone novel which is set within the genre-defining series, The Dark Tower, that takes readers on a gripping and unforgettable journey through a mysterious and dangerous world.
First published in 1982, The Dark Tower series has since become a classic of contemporary fantasy literature. Henceforth inspiring countless imitators and influencing a generation of writers.
For new readers of the series, this may be the first introduction into the series. So, come with us as we tell you all you need to know about The Wind Through the Keyhole!
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About the Series
The Dark Tower series is a set of eight novels written by legendary American author Stephen King. The series follows the journey of Roland Deschain, a gunslinger from a world that is similar to the Old West, as he travels through a vast and mysterious landscape in search of the Dark Tower.
Stephen King released the series over an epic 30 years. The series was chiefly inspired by the poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Robert Browning, whose full text was included in the final volume’s appendix. In the preface to the revised 2003 edition of The Gunslinger, King also identifies The Lord of the Rings, Arthurian legend, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as inspirations.
The 8 novels include:
- The Gunslinger
- The Drawing of the Three
- The Waste Lands
- Wizard and Glass
- The Wind Through the Keyhole
- Wolves of the Calla
- Song of Susannah
- The Dark Tower
The series has been adapted into a film (The Dark Tower 2017) starring huge stars such including Idris Elba & Matthew McConaughey and a television series of the same name.
The Wind Through the Keyhole
As Roland Deschain, and his ka-tet leave the Emerald city, a ferocious storm halts their progress along the Path of the Beam. While they shelter from the starkblast, Roland tells a story about his younger days, when he was sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-changer.
At the scene of the crime he had tried to comfort a terrified young boy called Bill Streeter by reciting a story from The Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime, ‘The Wind through the Keyhole’.
‘A person’s never too old for stories,’ he said to Bill. ‘Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.’
And stories like these, they live for us.
The No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller The Wind through the Keyhole is a perfect bridge between the fourth and fifth novels in Stephen King’s epic masterpiece. A story within a story which features both the younger and older gunslinger,. I is also a wonderful introduction to The Dark Tower series.Amazon Books
The novel begins with Roland Deschain and his ka-tet (a group of travelers) taking shelter from a deadly storm in an abandoned building. While they wait out the storm, Roland tells his companions a story from his past.
The story that Roland tells is about a time when he was a young gunslinger, travelling with his original ka-tet, which included his old friend Jamie DeCurry. The group is asked by a frightened young boy named Bill Streeter to investigate a series of brutal murders that have been taking place in his small town.
The gunslingers agree to help and soon discover that a shapeshifting creature called a “skin-man” is responsible for the murders. They set out to hunt the creature, but it manages to escape them. Then they are forced to take shelter in a nearby village.
While they are there, Roland learns that a young boy named Tim Ross has been traumatized by the skin-man’s attacks on his family. To help him cope, Roland tells Tim a story from his own childhood. This story is the one referred to in the book’s title, “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”
In the story, a young boy named Tim (who is not the same Tim from the framing narrative) lives with his mother and father in a small cabin in the woods. When his father dies suddenly, Tim and his mother struggle to survive. To help him cope, Tim’s mother tells him a story about a brave woodsman named Stark who must go on a dangerous journey to save a kingdom from a terrible evil.
The story-within-a-story follows Stark as he journeys through a strange and dangerous land. There he finds himself encountering talking animals, evil wizards, and other fantastical creatures. Along the way, he learns valuable lessons about bravery, loyalty, and sacrifice.
As Tim listens to the story, he finds comfort in the tale’s heroism and is able to come to terms with his own trauma. Meanwhile, Roland and his companions continue their hunt for the skin-man. Eventually, they confront it in a dramatic and bloody battle.
We close the novel with Roland and his ka-tet leaving the small town and continuing on their journey. Not before Bill Streeter gives Roland a magical item called a “Maerlyn’s Grapefruit” that will help him in his quest for the Dark Tower.
The Wind Through the Keyhole is, as expected, a beautifully crafted novel. As fans of the “Dark Tower” series, we were thrilled to dive back into Roland’s world and explore new characters and locations.
What makes this novel unique from the others in the series is the framing narrative that ties the different stories together. Roland’s story about his hunt for the skin-man is intriguing and suspenseful, but it’s the story-within-a-story that truly captivated us. The fairy-tale-like tale of Stark’s journey through a mystical land is full of wonder and imagination. It provides a much-needed respite from the darkness of the rest of the book.
As always, King’s writing is masterful. He creates vivid descriptions of the landscape and the characters, and his dialogue is sharp and engaging. The pacing of the book is also excellent, with the action moving steadily forward but still allowing time for character development and introspection.
One of the most impressive aspects of the book is its ability to stand alone, even for readers who haven’t read the other books in the series. While there are references to previous events and characters, the story is self-contained.
This novel is a further testament to King’s skill as a storyteller that he can continue to expand and deepen his fictional universe, even after so many years and so many books.
Our rating: ★★★★☆
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Wind Through the Keyhole about?
The story is framed as a story within a story. Gunslinger Roland Deschain and his companions taking shelter from a storm in an abandoned building. To pass the time, Roland tells his companions a story from his past about a hunt for a shapeshifting creature called a skin-man.
When should I read Wind Through the Keyhole?
King states that this entry should be placed between book #4 and #5. However, you can read it at any point in the series as a standalone novel.
Where does Wind Through the Keyhole fit?
The Wind Through the Keyhole proceeds Wizard and Glass, and is followed by Wolves of the Calla.