Book Review — The Talisman

Title:  The Talisman
Authors:  Stephen King & Peter Straub
Genre:  Fantasy, horror, coming-of-age
Published:  November 8, 1984
Publisher:  Viking

Rating



"Jack Sawyer, twelve years old, is about to begin a most fantastic journey, an exalting, terrifying quest for the mystical Talisman—the only thing that can save Jack’s dying mother. But to reach his goal, Jack must make his way not only across the breadth of the United States but also through the wondrous and menacing parallel world of the Territories.

"In the Territories, Jack finds another realm, where the air is so sweet and clear a man can smell a radish being pulled from the ground a mile away—and a life can be snuffed out instantly in the continuing struggle between good and evil. Here Jack discovers “Twinners,” reflections of the people he knows on earth—most notably Queen Laura, the Twinner of Jack’s own imperiled mother. As Jack “flips” between worlds, making his way westward toward the redemptive Talisman, a sequence of heart-stopping encounters challenges him at every step."

~ Amazon




As with a lot of the books I end up reading, my brother has been pestering me to read this one for quite a long time.  Considering that it is a lengthy book, I never got around to it.  However, after some though and coercion from my dad, audio book sounded like a good solution.  Running on the treadmill goes by a lot faster when you have a book read to you.  In addition, it makes shovel god-awful amounts of snow off your a driveway and walk that much easier.  And, with length in mind, the audio book was over twenty-four hours!  Eep!

After his father's untimely death, Jack Sawyer's mother, Lily, uproots him from California and settles in Arcadia Beach, New Hampshire.  Since his mother is a famous Hollywood actress and rather unobservant, Jack is left to his own devices most days.  However, while this may seem like a carefree existence, Jack discovers that his mother is dying from cancer.  In a desperate effort to save her, he learns of an object called the Talisman that will cure her.

Setting out from New Hampshire, Jack travels across the country and through the parallel universe of the Territories.  He is helped along the way by Speedy Parker, an old friend, and Wolf, a werewolf.  Through his adventures, Jack learns his connection to the Territories, the dangerous game someone close to him is playing, and the role he must take in relation to both worlds.


Wow, I wasn't even sure what to expect when I started this book.  At some level, due to the age of the character, I figured it would be a coming of age story.  And, given the type of genre these authors write, it made sense that it would be a little more unusual and strange.  That being said, wow . . . This book is extremely hard to describe, it has multiple levels of complexity running through it, hard choices, and so on.  Yes, it does have all the elements of a coming-of-age story; however, it goes deeper and takes a grittier and darker approach.

The characters and settings in this book were amazing, vivid, and detailed!  At times, I was left wondering whether the Territories actually existed.  The authors did a wonderful job making everything tangible and real.  The imagery of the people flying off of the tower, the Blasted Lands, and the vines wrapping around Jack's legs will stay with me forever.  Further, even the minor characters were fully developed.  The old trainer operator—I think his name was Anders—felt as though he was an old and established character.  I liked how each of the twinners would appear in both worlds.  When Jack happens across Snowball outside the mall, I was surprised at his real identity.

The narrative styling and audio book narrator gave them book a magical quality.  Granted, it was very, very dark and brutal at times.  Something about Jack's youth, the way he saw things, the Talisman, and flipping between lands really made it feel as though it was a fairy tale.  And, if it is one, it is definitely in the same vein as the old and grisly ones.

Even though there were times when the book felt daunting due to the length, there was never a dull moment!  Near the end of his time at the Sunlight Gardner Home, I almost had to stop running on the treadmill to cry!  The book really pulls on your heart strings.  The story was amazing, the setting beautiful, and the characters masterfully crafted.  Even with the fairy tale elements, this book is not for the faint of heart.









Current Pages: 3714
Current Progress:

15/50 books


Much love, Sinn

3 comments:

  1. I love King... in fact I run the (http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/203-stephen-king-fans)Stephen King Fans group on goodreads. The Talisman is one of my all time favorite King stories. It is amazing how King writes this book. You should also check out Black House.. though not as good as the Talisman but still worth the read!
    Angie
    Angela's Anxious Life

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny you should mention The Black House -- I just started it this afternoon ;) I'll have to join your group! Thanks for mentioning it!

      Delete
    2. Oh wait, I did join >.< It's been that kind of day . . .

      Delete

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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.