For readers new to Stephen King's epic seven-volume fantasy masterpiece The Dark Tower, The Wind Through the Keyhole is a stand-alone novel, and a wonderful introduction to the series. It is an enchanting Russian doll of a novel, a story within a story within a story, which features both the younger and older Roland Deschain - Mid-World's last gunslinger - on his quest to find the Dark Tower.
For the legions of fans, it is a gift of deeper insight and a chance to discover what happened to Roland and his ka-tet between the time they leave the Emerald City and arrive on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis.
We join Roland and his ka-tet as a ferocious storm halts their progress along the Path of the Beam. As they shelter from the screaming wind and snapping trees, Roland tells them not just one strange tale, but two - and in doing so sheds fascinating light on his own troubled past.
In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother's death, Roland is sent by his father to a ranch to investigate a recent slaughter. Here Roland discovers a bloody churn of bootprints, clawed animal tracks, terrible carnage - evidence that the ‘skin-man', a shape shifter, is at work. There is only one surviving witness: a brave but terrified boy called Bill Streeter.
Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime, ‘The Wind through the Keyhole.' ‘A person's never too old for stories,' he says to Bill. ‘Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.'
And stories like these, they live for us.