Song of Susannah

by Stephen King

  General / Favorable Reviews
  Critical Reviews

Hile, wordslinger *****

If you thought that the previous five Dark Tower books were departures for King, just wait until you read this one. At some point around the 11th Stanza ("The Writer"), "Song of Susannah" is, like the song says, guaranteed to blow your mind.
Picking up right where "Wolves of the Calla" left off, our heroes Roland, Eddie, Jake, and the relative newcomer Father Callahan prepare for yet another sojourn out of Roland's world and into ours. Right off the bat, though, things do not go quite as planned. A Beamquake shakes the foundations of all the worlds, and we learn that the Tower is in much greater jeopardy than we may have previously suspected. And as always, wherever Roland goes, gunplay is sure to follow, but this time, it's waiting for him...

King's further explorations into the rich world of the Dark Tower are as rewarding as they ever were. The characters, by now, have become as comfortable as old friends. Still, there are new facets to be seen yet, and we get a closer look at each of them as the story goes on.

It's very difficult to write about this latest installment without giving what makes it so different away completely. The events and revelations found in "Song of Susannah" are so central to the themes of the overall story, and yet revealing them here would entirely ruin the fun of discovering them as King has presented it. Some readers will doubtless dislike the road King has begun to travel as the story approaches its conclusion, but I am convinced that many more will absolutely love it. It is a credit to King's growth as a writer that he can even attempt this ambitious sort of storytelling, and more, that he can do it successfully... at least, so far.

One thing is certain: love it or hate it, "Song of Susannah" is King's riskiest and most surprising work yet. One the one hand, he is taking one of the most overused plot elements in fiction -- the baby of uncertain parentage -- and making something original and interesting out of it. On the other, he is attempting something seen in modern fiction only rarely... a self-relexive work that engages the reader on multiple levels. By the end of "Song of Susannah" you may find yourself thinking about the realities that fiction creates, and the fictions that "real" life presents us with every day. And if you do, I believe that is entirely the point. King seems to be angling not only toward a conclusion to Roland's quest, but also toward a deeply personal statement about what it is to be a writer. It is an ambitious road to travel, but so far, King has not let us down. In fact, what he has begun with this book has the potential to exceed all the expectations I had for it.

'Ware, Constant Reader: "Song of Susannah," like "The Waste Lands," ends with a cliffhanger. In fact, there is not only one cliffhanger here, but two. The last pages of "Song of Susannah" should leave many readers, as it left me, powerfully hungry for the final book in the series. What lies in wait on the final page is, to say the least, quite a shock. It leaves the fate of Roland and his companions, as well as that of the Tower itself, enshrouded in doubt.

"One more turn of the path, and then we reach the clearing."

I, for one, can't wait to get there.

Richard Stoehr "Idle Rich"




Author Involvement Strange...And Perhaps Genius? ***

First off I have no idea how any of this is going to turn out, and that's a good thing. So much of what surrounds this book is the fact that King writes himself into the story; In fact he's central to the plot. I closed the book and vascilated between thinking it was brilliant or just odd. Based on others reactions, I guess I'm not alone. I'll be really bummed though if the Crimson King turns out to be the driver who ran over King years ago, and yet I wouldn't put anything past him after the way the book ends. The book in hindsight almost seems like an extended coda to "The Wolves of Calla". The action moves minimally to climax with the birth of Susannah/Mia/Detta's baby, and Jake and Callahan entering the bar where the birth is taking place.For those who have followed it faithfully, you'll certainly want to read this since it's by no means a drawn out mess like the Robert Jordan books have become for example.
Curiosity is killing this cat however, to learn what tricks King has up his sleeve to tie all this up in the last book due in September.

Brett Benner





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