Does Stephen King’s Newest Book Hold Up?


Marek HOrgas

This is the cover of Stephen King’s newest novel, Fairy Tale.

Marek Horgas, Staff Writer

Earlier this school year, Stephen King published his latest novel, “Fairy Tale”. This novel follows Charlie Reade, an outwardly moral person who harbors hidden trauma beneath a facade of perfection. He does this as he tries to fulfill a moral obligation that leads him to fall into a dying world. Without very many details, this story is wide ranging, showing both the biggest positive and negative of this book. It covers so much ground, with an interesting plot, at times becoming too much. 

For the first act of the novel, King – through Charlie as a narrator – tells the beautiful story of how Charlie dealt with his father’s alcoholism following his mother’s death and how this resulted in him befriending and taking care of elderly recluse, Mr. Bowditch. This time with him caused  Charlie to fall in love with Mr. Bowditch’s aging dog as well as discovering and subsequently taking on his secrets after his tragic death.

This first third of the book is simply fantastic. It gives a heartwarming account of people helping people and provides a lot of depth to the character of Charlie Reade. Some of this depth includes Charlie’s well of guilt that is still hanging over from how he processed the death of his mother and the lack of a father. Another focus is the character of Mr. Bowditch’s dog, Radar. This dog represents this idea of keeping Mr. Bowditch alive. 

It is this idea that drives Charlie to discover the Other – a diseased world where everything seems a little more similar to fantasy than reality – tapping into some of that fantasy to attempt healing Radar. This is also the point where many people feel the story falls off. 

From this point onward, Charlie journeys through this broken world to try and save his dog’s life. In and of itself, this is not a bad plotline. However, it lacks much of the emotional depth that the first part had, mostly because the majority of the writing is focused on expanding the expansive narrative. Once in the Other, a new far less engaging plotline opens up where on a whim more or less Charlie makes the decision that he has to somehow save this new world, about which he knows essentially nothing. Without a doubt, this is a weak section that, although creative, it just isn’t engaging due to how unbelievable it gets to be. Worse than that, King tries to write off this hit or miss narrative dense section with meta commentary about the nature of heroes, which is even more of a miss. 

It isn’t a bad read, but it fell in the typical trap for King novels and fantasy stories in general: losing the reader. “Fairy Tale” was met with mixed reviews from readers, but the general consensus is that this was like reading two entirely different books that were just stitched together and in which one story was much better than the other. I would give this story four out of five stars because the first third was incredible but when the pacing increased all of the positives of that first third got sidelined in favor of a fairly pleasant plot with vastly untapped potential.

King’s next novel, “Holly”, is scheduled to be released later this year.