Reviews for Fairy Tale

by Stephen King

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

As the pandemic descended, King asked himself: "What could you write that would make you happy?" Here's the result, inspired by a sudden vision he had of an immense but empty, shattered city, with life pulsing just beneath the surface. His protagonist is Charlie Reade, whose mother died in a hit-and-run when he was ten and whose father subsequently disappeared into drink. At 17, self-sufficient Charlie befriends a dog named Radar and his crusty, reclusive master, Howard Bowditch, for whom he starts doing odd jobs. A cassette Bowditch leaves for Charlie at his death shares a secret: that funny shed at the back of his house contains a portal to another world, where a battle between good and evil is roaring. Boy and dog pass through the portal for the adventure of their lives. With a 1.5 million copy first printing.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

King's latest novel follows Charlie, a teen boy who befriends local recluse Mr. Bowditch and his elderly dog, Radar. Soon after, Mr. Bowditch passes away, leaving everything to Charlie, including a cassette tape that reveals the existence of a portal to another world in an old garden shed. Hoping to use the magic of this other world to restore Radar's youth, Charlie enters Empis and becomes drawn into a desperate struggle to prevent this already sick and dying world from being finally destroyed. King's fantasy otherworld, which some characters posit is the source of many fairy-tale or fantastic stories, is by its nature a bit of a hodgepodge of various existing references, with some occasional striking images of its own (millions of monarch butterflies, a telepathic cricket). While this novel certainly doesn't break new ground for King or for the fantasy genre, it should please King's existing fans, especially those who enjoyed the more complex otherworlds of the Dark Tower series or King's earlier fantasy work, The Eyes of the Dragon (1987). HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new novel from King means lots of interest and lots of holds.


Publishers Weekly
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Bestseller King (Billy Summers) underwhelms in an overlong fantasy most likely to appeal to his YA fans. In 2003, seven-year-old Charlie Reade’s mother dies in an accident, sending his father into an alcoholic tailspin. Ten years later, a chance event changes Charlie’s life dramatically; while passing by a neighbor’s home, he hears frantic barking, and a feeble cry for help. He discovers elderly Howard Bowditch badly injured from a fall and calls 911, earning him Bowditch’s gratitude and a reputation as a hero. Charlie becomes the caretaker for both the dog, Radar, whom he grows to love, and Bowditch, who gradually reveals his secrets, including the source of the gold pellets he keeps in his safe: the mysterious shed on his property contains a portal to another world, one teeming with evil that wants to escape. Once the action shifts there, the plot becomes derivative, retreading standard portal fantasy tropes and the familiar struggle between good and evil. Illustrations at the start of each chapter, headed with descriptions of what they include, further convey a juvenile feel. This attempt at creating a sense of wonder and magic falls short. (Sept.)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.Whats a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In Kings case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outsideravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. Kings yarn begins in a world thats recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumbers van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven bugfuck by a father who was always trying to apologize. The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor whos fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the mans equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: Dont go in there, he said. You may in time, but for now dont even think of it. Its not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but theres plenty thats weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed, and a whole bunch of peoplewell, sort of people, anywaywhod like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our worlds surface. Kings young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: I think I know what you want, Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have itnamely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.A tale thats at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twistsvintage King, in other words. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King. What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink. A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.