A Novel, Fiction
By Stephen King and Peter Straub
Random House, New York, 2001

One of the rather cool aspects of King's writing is that he carries storylines through a variety of his books. So, if you are planning on reading Black House, you should also prepare to do some other reading as well. First and foremost, Black House is a book co-authored by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It was published by Random House in 2001. Back in 1984, Ballantine Books published The Talisman, the first book King and Straub co-authored. Black House for all intents and purposes, is a sequel to The Talisman. In my opinion, reading Black House without having first read The Talisman is practically blasphemy. Which is not to say that Black House can not be read on its own, but your experience reading the book and being absorbed into the world King creates won’t be nearly as amazing.

Now, not trying to play favorites, but I say the world 'King' creates, because the storyline of The Talisman and Black House crosses over from the books in the Gunslinger series: The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I, The Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower II, The Wastelands: The Dark Tower III, and Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower IV. The first gunslinger book is based upon a Robert Browning poem Childe Roland which you should take the time to read before beginning the Gunslinger Series. King also mentions parallels between Jake’s world in The Gunslinger with Danny Torrance’s bad place in The Shining. And in the afterword of the Gunslinger, King states, “In fact, the only time when my thoughts did not turn at least occasionally to the gunslinger’s dry and yet somehow gorgeous world... was when I was inhabiting another post-apocalypse world of The Stand.” Ironically, the fourth book in that series starts off with the characters escaping the horror of Captain Trips, the superflu from The Stand that wiped out the majority of the world’s population. Or at least, that world.

Once you get through that reading, you will be ready to begin Black House. The story is about Jack Sawyer. As a twelve year old boy, Travellin' Jack went on a cross-country journey that ends up taking him to other worlds to find the Talisman, save his dying mother, and become aware of just who he is. Black House finds him twenty years later, a retired 'coppiceman' in Wisconsin, and thrown into a world where things have begun to slip. Though this doesn’t quite begin to cover the depths of this book, the problem in Coulee County is The Fisherman: a serial killer in French Landing who is kidnapping and eating children. Readers of the Gunslinger Series would describe it as Ka, but whether retired or not, Jack becomes involved in the investigation. Through the book you learn about breakers and gunslingers, the Territories, twinners, The Tower, The Beam, The Crimson King, slippage, flipping, and doors into worlds other than the one you are presently aware of. The collision of these worlds and the horror and insanity they bring is Black House.

Technically deemed fantasy, Black House is a very dark story on the verge of being horror. If you get too involved in your reading, you will jump at every little sound around you. But that is certainly part of the appeal.

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