I recently read Stephen King’s late book Under The Dome. I really enjoyed about 80% of it. It was a little long, as always, but I read it all, as always. It had been quite a while since I had read any of King’s books. This realization sent me scurrying to my book shelves to see what I had by him.
The Talisman, by King and Peter Straub (author, most recently, of A Dark Matter), is a book I had not thought of for a long, long time. When I saw the cover, I was immediately taken back to my grandma’s living room in Spring Creek, Nevada. My grandma collected horror fiction and true crime like it was money. Or crack. Her shelves were bursting with the penny dreadfuls that would make Harold Bloom wet his pants.
Smashed in between all of the Dean Koontz and Anne Rule books was The Talisman. The hero of the book is a twelve year old boy named Jack Sawyer. Jack is on that most noble of quests: saving his mother, who is dying of cancer. For reasons I can’t even begin to explain here, Jack’s journey takes him to a weird parallel world called The Territories. In The Territories, everything is different that the real world. Sometimes a little bit off, sometimes terrifyingly, bizarrely so.
There are monsters, chases, and a bunch of references that fans of King’s Dark Tower series will enjoy if they can spot them.
The Talisman has gotten a bad rap from a lot of critics, and even King fans that I know. This surprises me. I can’t really say why, but this is one of my very favorite novels of his. Even as a kid I was really impressed by the fact that two people wrote such a big book, made it seem relatively seamless, and told a great adventure story.
Or maybe part of me just misses my grandma and all of the rainy afternoons we spent together, each of us lost in our own little terrors.
I’m also a huge fan of Peter Straub and recommend everything he has written if you also like King. My favorite Straub novel is Koko.
Who has read The Talisman? Thoughts?
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