Fairy Tale by Stephen King - A Review of Sorts
One week into the New Year and I finished reading another book. It was Fairy Tale by Stephen King, and this is the second book finished since challenging myself (I have a poorly drawn brain) to get back into my love of reading. It took me three days shy of two months to read it, but I'll take that. And I have another book ready to go - a present for Christmas - Circe by Madeline Miller. So, what did I think of this second book in my back to reading marathon?
Here we go;
A review of sorts...
I really like Stephen King - he's an amazing talent - but his work (as with all artists) is often a bit hit and miss. It's art. We can't all like everything. And Stephen King does try to push genre boundaries, which is both admirable, good, and at times a risk. But 'Fairy Tale' is a strange book (for me) as it encapsulates (in one volume) all that is hit and all that is miss about Stephen King. It honestly felt like reading two completely different books.
The first, coinciding with the first 40% or so of the book, was Stephen King at his best. This tale about Charlie Reade, the tragedy and successes of his young life, the burgeoning relationship with Mr. Bowditch, his love of Radar, a shadowed threat of human and otherworldly dangers, was brilliant. The building of characters and plot against a mundane backdrop had me completely hooked. Invested.
I loved it.
I had no idea what was going to happen.
I was excited for what was to come.
I was distraught at some of what had already happened.
It had me all in a mix and a do-dah.
This was 5* all the way for me.
And then we descended to the second half of the book.
Strangely, this was meant to be the magical half of the book. It didn't read that way for me. It felt shallow and rushed, lazy - dare I say it of someone of Stephen King's stature. Full of overused tropes and shout-outs to other magical writings by the the likes of L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes), H.P. Lovecraft (Cthulu), a host of Disney (Little Mermaid, Jiminy Cricket, Star Wars...) fairy tale franchises, and the folklore and fairy tales of old (Jack and the Beanstalk, Rumpelstiltskin, Mother Goose etc. etc.).
It read like fan-fiction, not of the best quality either. I didn't engage with the characters - indeed, felt little for them - the plot felt thinly painted, the evil was just that - nothing new - and even Charlie Reade changed. Not just in appearance, but in the way he was written. I was actually reminded of John Lennon bringing different songs together (as a genius) and making them work as a single whole - as in 'I am the Walrus'. It seemed that Stephen King has tried to do the same with two different books and it hasn't quite worked out.
Don't get me wrong.
It wasn't awful.
I read it.
But there was no original magic in the second half, at least not for me.
It felt like a 3* read (at best).
So in the end I'd score the book as a 3.75* overall - saved by the pure brilliance and originality of the 5* first half. It's worth reading Fairy Tale for that part of the book alone. But as I say it's art, and this is just one man's perspective. You might, like so many others, love it, and that is the beauty of books.
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