by Christopher Ryan
Stephen King is 75 years old and at yet another thrilling peak of his writing powers with his new fantasy epic, Fairy Tale. This is, of course, reason to celebrate for his long-time “constant readers” as he refers to them. Fairy Tale can also be seen as wondrous entry point for a new generation about to discover King because the beautifully youth-friendly cover will draw them in like butterflies to a gorgeous flower. But this masterpiece may be most thrilling to older writers.
This grand tale of a 17-year-old boy, a dog, a recovering alcoholic dad, a cranky old neighbor, and a hole in the ground to another world rich in gold and adventure and horrible dangers is King’s 64th novel. That it may prove to be among his best is electrifying, especially to authors of a certain age.
Yes, he is a singular talent, America’s storyteller, but King has also always been an author of approachable style that inspires writers to write. He has consistently used a blue collar vocabulary to weave fantastic stories that reflect a range of human experience, from the darkest corners of our souls to the brightest center of our heart. This energizes other authors to keep working to their best talents, in my opinion.
King’s new work offers additional delights as well. In an age of shorter novels, Fairy Tale is among his longer works, yet a reader can fly through it in a few truly enjoyable days. The heroes within aren’t perfect and the villains have recognizable flaws that temper our disgust, making for a richer experience all around.
King has always played honestly with his constant readers, and does so here right from the title. This epic cleverly flips, inverts, and spins well-known fairy tales of old and new. He shades characters to echo stories we grew up on. Ultimately, he creates a fascinating subtextual commentary on what we learn from these stories while offering insightful takes on character, theme, genre, and meaning in delightful, painless ways that never slows the wonderful pacing.
A master at work is always a joy to behold.
Fiction lovers have many reasons to embrace Uncle Stevie, but Fairy Tale might just make him our favorite relative of all time,