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Black House (Pocket Books Fiction) Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2012
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Of course, this is no ordinary policeman, but Jack Sawyer, hero of Stephen King and Peter Straub's 1984 fantasy The Talisman. At the end of that book, the 13-year-old Jack had completed a grueling journey through an alternate realm called the Territories, found a mysterious talisman, killed a terrible enemy, and saved the life of his mother and her counterpart in the Territories. Now in his 30s, Jack remembers nothing of the Talisman, but he also hasn't entirely forgotten:
When these faces rise or those voices mutter, he has until now told himself the old lie, that once there was a frightened boy who caught his mother's neurotic terror like a cold and made up a story, a grand fantasy with good old Mom-saving Jack Sawyer at its center. None of it was real, and it was forgotten by the time he was sixteen. By then he was calm. Just as he's calm now, running across his north field like a lunatic, leaving that dark track and those clouds of startled moths behind him, but doing it calmly.Jack is abruptly pulled into the case--and back into the Territories--by the Fisherman himself, who sends Jack a child's shoe, foot still attached. As Jack flips back and forth between French Landing and the Territories, aided by his 20-years-forgotten friend Speedy Parker and a host of other oddballs (including a blind disk jockey, the beautiful mother of one of the missing children, and a motorcycle gang calling itself the "Hegelian Scum"), he tracks both the Fisherman and a much bigger fish: the abbalah, the Crimson King who seeks to destroy the axle of worlds.
While The Talisman was a straightforward myth in 1980s packaging, Black House is richer and more complex, a fantasy wrapped in a horror story inside a mystery, sporting a clever tangle of references to Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, jazz, baseball, and King's own Dark Tower saga. Talisman fans will find the sure-footed Jack has worn well--as has the King/Straub writing style, which is much improved with the passage of two decades. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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My great fear was that I wouldn't like Jack as an adult. That there was no way that these two could top the marvelous quest that was The Talisman. Then I heard that Black House would be tied into the Dark Tower series. I wasn't sure how to feel about this either. While I feel that the Dark Tower will prove to be the greatest of Stephen King's works, I have always viewed The Talisman as something altogether seperate, and magical.
My trepidation increased.
Then I decided to just let it go, made a concious effort to view Black House as something unto itself, to not hold it up to the Talisman, or anything else for comparison. I am very glad I did this.
I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning reading this book, and let me tell you it was wonderful. Jack Sawyer, a little older, a little wiser, a little more lonely and scared, but still the boy with the good heart, grown into a man of integrity.
I will not give away plot points in this review, but let me just say a couple of things. The connection to the Dark Tower series is done very well, revealing some important information without taking you to far afield, and making this into an actual Dark Tower book. It is more akin to Insomnia - related, but not overwhelmingly so.
The characterisations in this book are wonderful.Read more ›
Now Jack and I are both in our early 30s. For me, reading "Black House" felt like seeing an old childhood friend again after far too long. But we barely had time to catch up before the story took off, like an inexorable dark train carrying us to parts unknown.
"Black House" was totally absorbing. I didn't want it to end, and yet I couldn't resist staying up until 5 a.m. finishing it. The characters are great -- especially the motorcycle gang who help Jack solve the crime, and his friend Henry, a blind DJ. King and Straub are both masters when it comes to creating a wholly believable place, and they've done it again, both with the small Wisconsin town and its mirror image in the Territories.
The ending suggests that King and Straub have more stories to tell us about the Territories and its' inhabitants. I hope they don't wait another 20 years to give us the next story ... but "Black House" was worth the wait.
Don't get me wrong it's not a bad book. It has some great story telling in there and some awfully likeable characters like Henry the blind radio announcer with several on air peronalities, and in places it really shines.
For the fans I was talking about earlier there is some insight into the Dark Tower and what might be dealt with in the future Gunslinger books which makes it a worthwhile read.
I guess the singular most annoying thing about this novel, and it is something that I have never seen in a Stephen King Book ever before and hope to never ever have to read through again in one, is that in parts of the book the narritive is described as if the reader is a watching third party to the story. example, "and now we float up away from this scene and go to visit another important character blahdy blahdy blah" believe me this gets mighty annoying mighty quickly. Perhaps its not Stephen King who wrote this way, although I admit it is unfair to blame what I don't like on the one who isn't one of my favorite authors, but oh well.
To sum up, In the absence of other Stephen King writing, any Stephen King is better than no Stephen King.
Another caveat: King experiments here with a different style of writing that may be off-putting to many readers. (It may not seem so different to Straub fans. I don't know; having read only The Talisman and Koko, I don't consider myself an authority on his works, but I can say I sensed more of his presence in House than I did in Talisman.) The authors use the simple present tense throughout Black House, and yet refer to past events in the past perfect tense, whereas simple past seems more correct to some of us English teachers. (King himself taught English before making a name for himself as a writer, so not all academicians will agree with me on this admittedly minor point.) And I found that their constant use of the first person plural, far from getting me personally involved, kept me from losing myself in the story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All horror and dark fantasy fans should run to their nearest bookstore and get this book. It was excellent! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kamiyahagi
If you enjoyed the Dark Tower series, you'll love this gem! The combined efforts of Stephen King and Peter Straub intertwine seamlessly, while simultaneously unique to their own... Read morePublished 2 months ago by James
I read a lot of books but only reread the best. I just reread this set.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer