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Book Review: Black House

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It’s no secret that I’m a “Tower junkie,” which is to say, I really enjoyed the entirety of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. All of his books touch on the Tower in some small way, but three books in particular (Hearts in Atlantis, Insomnia, and Black House) can be considered the main tie-ins.

I listened to the entire Dark Tower series (save The Gunslinger) on audiobook, and I didn’t see any reason to stop the trend with the non-series novels. Plus, Frank Muller (sadly, now deceased) was a fantastic narrator, and I relished the opportunity to hear more of his work.

Black House doesn’t make too many pretensions at being anything other than a Stephen King novel. Demon-infested cannibalistic serial killer? Check. Oversized enchanted raven that drives people mad? Check. You get what I’m saying.

I’m not saying any of that is a bad thing if you’re a fan of the genre. The problem is that I’m really not; I relished the amalgam of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and post-apocalyptic western found in the DT series, but straight horror just doesn’t really do it for me. Also, I’ve never found King to be particularly readable, just hard to put down. As I understand it, that’s a fairly common criticism.
Edited: PC

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About Jonathan

  • Jewels

    If you like King, graduate to Kootz, he’s really a much better story writer of the similar jenre.

  • Jewels

    here’s a little tid on scrying scrying. Kinda cool if yer not skreered, as we like to say in Texas…

  • Jonathan… couple of things:

    * Some of King’s books touch on the Tower, but not nearly all. The evolution of the idea that many (if not all) of his fictional worlds surround the Dark Tower developed throughout his career.

    * Muller’s not dead, just ill. He requires full-time care, and it sadly looks like his fine career is over.

    * Black House is a collab (as the kids say on Making the Band) between King and Peter Straub.

    * It’s a sequel to The Talisman, one of the finest sociological sci-fi books I’ve ever read.

    * Black House picks up with The Talisman‘s main character, now into adult life and in denial about his fantastical past. It’s a good, rich, finely written novel but nowhere near the original.

    * You wrote, “Also, I’ve never found King to be particularly readable, just hard to put down.”

    That makes no sense to me.

  • Jewels

    Back to King; Eric Berlin completely ignored my ref to Koontz; He is much more readable and believable than King.

  • How is talking about Koontz going “back to King” (see… I didn’t ignore –> smile)

    Koontz is okay, but I find King to be the far superior story spinner. That’s what I think is meant by people when they say they “couldn’t put a book down.” That’s story telling… when a writer can consume a reader’s time, even against their better interests.

    Or “tastes”!

  • Jewels

    Berlin, I guess you find the more simplistic tales entertaining, but Koontz is really MUCH Better. I got bored with King at the age of 17; dunno…Koontz is just a ‘smarter read’ for this genre.

  • I don’t find King’s books “simplistic” in the slightest. Some are better than others, but for the most part he’s a masterful story teller.

    In fact, I’m not really sure what you mean by “simplistic.” “Complex” isn’t always better. Perhaps now that you’ve grown and matured, you might have a different opinion of King’s work.

  • Jewels

    King’s books read like Early Harry Potter to me. I do not see the masterful storytelling; I see floundering and groping; but no storytelling. Sorry.

  • The Harry Potter books have sold countless millions of copies and are generally considered to be of a very high quality in terms of writing, story telling, and narrative fiction. And I would agree. Further, Rowling’s world is extraordinarily well drawn, repleat with mythology that draws from multiple cultures and traditions, which has been well documented, etc.

    What are your examples of King novels that flounder and grope?

  • By “not readable but hard to put down,” I mean that I’m not a huge way of the way King crafts his stories (you know, word selection, tone, etc.), but that the plot keeps me hooked despite myself.

  • G

    Frank Muller is not dead. He had a motor cycle accident, get your damn facts straight before immortalizing him.

  • Jonathan

    Sincere apologies; I wrote this review casually and didn’t do any fact-checking beforehand. Thank you for setting the record straight.