Fairy Tale by Stephen King
September 18, 2022 7:34 PM - Subscribe

Stephen King goes into the deepest 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 that 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. 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.

King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.

Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”

“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
posted by zardoz (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I read this over the course of a week after it came out, and I loved it! I'd really like to read more things set in this universe.
posted by ersatzkat at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2022

I'm only about 10% of the way through, but I'm enjoying myself so far. When it comes to King and portals, my mind instantly goes to one place, of course - so I'm eager to see if this connects in any way to the Dark Tower. I guess I'll see!

Staying out of this thread from here on out lest there be spoilers, but, yeah, so far, so good!
posted by kbanas at 11:48 AM on September 19, 2022

This is one of my favorite King novels I've read and I'm only like 150 pages into it. I love it.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2022

This is the open book on my kindle right now, and it tells me I'm about 29% of the way through. I'm really enjoying it so far! Charlie Reade is a good kid. And Radar is a VERY Good Dog.
posted by invincible summer at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I’ve just started reading this and I’m enjoying it so far. But can someone who had finished it please tell me if anything bad happens to Radar? Because if it does I’m gonna quit right now. Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:57 PM on September 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

hey Radar is fine
posted by ersatzkat at 7:08 AM on September 21, 2022 [5 favorites]

Dear Snab, this book was awesome!

I used to love the old school King books back in the early 90s when I was a bookish, awkward kid and then moved away from them in my 20s. I only recently started reading him again now in my 40s during the pandemic.

Reading this book, I fell in love with King all over again and love how he has gotten more refined but still has that edgy punch to him. This book was beautiful: funny, sad, creepy, tragic and gorgeous…and just a damn good story.
posted by floweredfish at 1:50 AM on October 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

5 stars for the first third of the book. It reminded me of Stand By Me in the best way. 3 stars for the second and third acts. It was a weird combo of Maze Runner and Hunger Games. The resolution was nice though. I don't read horror but I appreciate the non-horror movies that King has written, so this one intrigued me. Gross things and fighting kind of bore me, so that took away from the fantastic parts. There were a few too many characters to get attached to any besides Charlie and Radar, but she really is the best dog in the world, huh?
posted by soelo at 10:49 AM on November 18, 2022

I just finished this one, and enjoyed it! It's definitely in the somewhat painful strain of latter-day King writing modern young people, but if you can deal with that, it's a fun (and occasionally heartwrenching) yarn. I felt like this was like a happy-go-lucky peek into the world of Revival, with a tinge of the cruel fantasy world of Brian Evenson's The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell. Or maybe I just don't read much fantasy, so I'm grasping at horror straws for comparison?
posted by quatsch at 5:52 AM on January 30, 2023

I found this one enjoyable but not brilliant. I would describe it as "comfortingly predictable", which is not something I knew I wanted when I started but it works.

About the only part of the plot that surprised me is that I was expecting Charlie to have to have a reckoning, upon his return to his own world, with the man who robbed the jeweler. And throughout the book the greatest amount of suspense was basically "is Radar going to be okay?" and even that, I think, was chiefly because I thought that something had pointed towards an other-than-happy ending for her in the foreshadowing-heavy first section of the novel.

By all means don't try to make any sense of the economics or politics or technology of the fairy tale world. Just enjoy the ramble through the story and don't think too hard about anything.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:28 AM on April 5, 2023

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