Fairy Tale Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
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|Listening Length||24 hours and 6 minutes|
|Narrator||Stephen King, Seth Numrich|
|Audible.ca Release Date||September 06 2022|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #15 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Supernatural Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in Dark Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#2 in Supernatural Thrillers (Books)
Reviewed in Canada on October 27, 2022
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So looking forward to entering another world of King's imagination even though I'm now 75 years old!
HERE WE GO!!!!!!!
I was about to dive into "Fairy Tale" when the magical 'fairy' queen passed away!
I am so terribly sad that such a beautiful, dutiful and dedicated queen, mother and "rock" of our nation is no longer with us.
I pray that our new king finds the strength to rule in a way that even approaches the heights that his late mother achieved. I am sure that he will!
I will begin my journey into Stephen King's world very soon. In the meantime, as the King said, "THANK YOU"!
A final thought now that I'm only a very few pages away from finishing reading, and because I'm saving the denouement for a few days. I would like to say that this is, in my opinion, one of the very best of SK's novels. I have found it charming, surprising, inventive and (because he takes the reader along with him on a personal journey) almost a privilege to walk in this world with the hero. Even though some moments should have been too tense and horrific to witness, it's as if SK has his arm around your shoulders, reassuring the reader that everything will eventually be fine!
What a marvelous creation!!!!
Many of the references throughout the story of Charlie Reade and his travel to the world of Empis are overt – Disney, Grimm Fairy tales, Ray Bradbury and HP Lovecraft, but there are as many snippets and ideas taken in other directions from King’s own work.
Charlie befriends curmudgeonly old Mr Bowditch and his dog Radar; I don’t think it’s too much of a plot spoiler to say that the shed on Bowditch’s land leads to somewhere…different. And if there are similarities between that and Jake Epping’s relationship with, and legacy from, his friend Al Templeton in 11/22/63, then rest assured the doorway here leads somewhere very different.
While King might have been writing more ‘grounded’ fiction recently (Billy Summers, the Bill Hodges trilogy, etc) he’s also been mixing it up with more ‘fantastical’ works like Revelation, The Institute and Elevation, and in Fairy Tale he combines the two states: it is, in effect, 150 pages before ‘the weird stuff’ starts happening. For some that may feel like a too slow build – for King fans it feels like a return to the many well drawn out portrayals of teenagers King has written about so often.
The closest comparisons, given the ‘different worlds’ basic premise are, of course, going to be the author’s Dark Tower series and The Talisman (fittingly, if sadly, I read Fairy Tale on the day it was announced King’s co-author of the latter, Peter Straub, passed away). Considering the vein from the Dark Tower that runs through so much of King’s work, there’s relatively little mention here. There’s a quote from a certain Browning poem early on, and a single line late in the book which will be familiar to readers of the series, but otherwise, not so much. The Talisman feels a closer parallel to the story: the protagonist may be older, and the journey may be less fragmented between worlds, but it had that same feeling for me.
All of the above may be a bit too fan-focused. At the end of the day, is it a good story?
And the answer, for me, was that yes, it’s a rich, satisfying story. In some ways, it’s the story of stories. King is long enough in the tooth to recognise and embrace the influences from oldest folklore to more recent cultural phenomenon of the mythic quest and the hero’s journey. (No coincidence he points out the princess in the tale ‘Leah’ could be Princess Leia.
It’s a long book for your average author, but very much in the midway range for King – clocking in at around 570 pages, and one to read. By that, I mean, don’t wait for the tv/ film adaptation that is bound to come; the level of self or cultural reference, much of it recognised and pointed out by the narrator/ protagonist, has the potential to work less well than it does on the printed page. Instead, give yourself a chance to get into the story and enjoy the world and characters created with your own imagination; like Charlie in the book, you’ll be set on the right path by someone who’s been there and done it.
For the first third of the book, the story is quite straightforward. A boy fulfilling a promise to a god he only partially believes in helps an old man and his dog. Seventeen-year-old Charlie Reade is no saint, he makes that clear from the beginning. He has done things he is not proud of, cruel things he tried to justify as pranks, but which he knows hurt and distressed people. That they came from the anger of a boy whose mother died suddenly and violently and whose father drowned his grief in a bottle, only serve to make Charlie the kind of balanced and realistic main character who is a feature of King novels.
As the old man’s secrets are revealed a new world opens for Charlie, and he has the opportunity to become the kind of hero fairy tales talk about. But, being a King fairy tale he maintains doubts, is driven by revenge as often as justice, and maintains a believable character.
The story reminds me a little of The Black House and its sequel (the duology King wrote with Peter Straub), and a little of The Eyes of the Dragon (a more purist fantasy outing from King). I loved all of these, so am not surprised that King handles the fantasy elements of the other world in Fairy Tale so well. Indeed for someone most often described as a horror writer there are probably more fantasy elements to his novels overall than any other genre. But, one of the things I most love about Stephen King novels is that the genre is irrelevant - it's the combination of great storytelling with engaging characters that brings me back to his worlds time and time again.