The Winds Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Tale



“What if I fall?’, Tim cried. Maerlyn laughed. ‘Sooner or later, we all do.” ― Stephen King, The Wind Through the Keyhole

Jasper Alexander, Writer

 “Ka like a wheel” is a phrase Roland’s mother said to him when he was a boy. It means that whatever you do, you can’t change your destiny. Roland lives by these words throughout Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series. Sitting between the fourth and fifth book in the series, Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Call, The Wind Through the Keyhole starts with Roland, Susannah, Jake, Eddie, and Oy taking shelter in an old town hall made of stone to hide from a stark blast—an ice storm so cold that it reaches temperatures below negative 100 degrees. To make the miserable night go by faster, Roland tells his friends a story that, like a Russian doll, encompasses another story. Stephen King takes an interesting approach with how he narrates Roland’s story; rather than it being a flashback, it is told by Roland in one big quotation. 

In the first story, Roland tells them about his first Gunslinger mission taking place after the fourth book. Roland is tasked with hunting down and bringing in a Skinchanger, a werewolf-type monster, that has been terrorizing a local farming community. Upon arrival at one of the scenes of the monster’s attacks, Roland finds a young boy who is the sole survivor. To calm the terrified boy, Roland tells him a story that Roland’s mother told him as a child in his father’s castle long ago. This is the second story of e story is called The Winds Through the Keyhole and it is about a young boy named Tim who leaves home and goes into the dangerous world to find medicine for his ill mother. 

The book is quite different than what we are used to from earlier Dark Tower books. It is a fairytale that just so happens to take place in Roland’s world. The story, however, is less weird than what we are used to from The Dark Tower series. The strangest part of this book is that Tim becomes friends with an Amazon or Alexa-type robot who leads him to what it calls “Directive-19.” This fulfills King’s mystery character trope. Unfortunately, there are no weird aspects like hyper intelligent AI trains or the dreaded mutant Lobsters like in previous books.  

But the book makes up for this with engaging writing. Lines like Time is a keyhole, he thought as he looked up at the stars. Yes, I think so. We sometimes bend and peer through it. And the wind we feel on our cheeks when we do – the wind that blows through the keyhole- is the breath of all the living universe” make this a book you don’t want to skip. It also contains the action and suspense that we love, from alligators mutated into dragons to the unsettling Man in Black.  

Even though it doesn’t focus on the main story of Roland’s quest to the illusive Dark Tower, the book is a must-read for all Dark Tower fans out there. This side story gives us a better understanding of the lives of common folk outside of Gilead and its Gunslingers. Eventually the stark blast is lifted, leaving Roland and his crew able to continue their journey to The Tower.