Thursday, October 20, 2022

131. Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale. Stephen King. 2022. 608 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I'm sure I can tell this story. I'm also sure no one will believe it. That's fine with me. Telling it will be enough. My problem--and I'm sure many writers have it, not just newbies like me--is deciding where to start. 

Premise/plot: Charlie Reade, our protagonist, has quite a story to tell readers. Though the adventures [or misadventures] start with a neighbor's shed, the story starts much earlier. He opens his story with the story of a bridge, the bridge where his mother died when he was a young kid. The accident not only took his mom's life, but, his father spent years--many, many years--living life inside a bottle. However, when the story opens--Charlie's father is in recovery and miraculously returned to him. Charlie feels--to a certain extent--that he has made a bargain with God. He'll be GOOD, great, compassionate, kind--all the things--if his father is healed of his alcoholism. In part, this is why he goes above and beyond when his literal neighbor is in need. 

Mr. Bowditch is the crankiest, grumpiest neighbor. He's a recluse essentially. But when Charlie hears his neighbor's dog, Radar, howling (barking?) he checks on the situation to find that his neighbor indeed does need help--a great deal of help. He has fallen off the ladder and the situation is dire. He saves his neighbor's life...and the two are forever joined, in a way. The bridge that holds these together--besides a promise to be good--is Radar. Charlie and Radar become best, best, best buddies. Soon these two will be inseparable. There is literally NOTHING that Charlie wouldn't do for Radar...

...which leads us eventually to the super-mysterious shed...and all the adventures and misadventures. 

My thoughts:  Fairy Tale is not your typical Stephen King novel. I'm assuming. Granted I am not qualified to judge that. (I've read Under the Dome and 11/22/63.) The first half is a heart-felt coming-of-age story starring a BOY AND HIS DOG. You've got a story of unlikely friendship between a dying neighbor and a young, athletic [whole life before him] boy. The relationship between Charlie, Mr. Bowditch [Howard], and Radar is just uplifting and enjoyable. The second half is mystery-suspense-thriller-fantasy. Charlie goes through a portal to another realm/another world. 

I wouldn't be surprised if readers are divided as to which half is "better" or "more enjoyable." As for me, I absolutely LOVED the first half. I enjoyed the second half. I did. I kept turning pages. I read this book in THREE DAYS. There wasn't any "slow" part. I wonder if those who are looking for a thriller-y, action-packed fantasy think the first half too slow??? 

The only content warning I would have is language. I think this is typical King in the use of curse/cuss words--like the f word. If you are super-sensitive and try to carefully avoid books that use "crude" language, then this probably isn't for you. I found the story so captivating and the characters so well done that I wasn't bothered. [This isn't always the case. For me, it is almost a book by book, story by story call.]


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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