Once upon a time there was a boy named Charlie Reed, who grew up not at all like a fairy tale. He was only three years old when his mother was hit by a truck. The father is now tied to the bottle. But the boy from the small town of Sentry, Illinois, grows up to be an obedient, nice guy. Charlie worries about family, father and other people.

When grumpy old Howard Bowitch falls down the stairs next door and breaks his leg, a 17-year-old takes care of an old lumberjack – the start of an unusual friendship.


Cover of the book “The Tale” by Stephen King.

When an old man dies of a heart attack, he bequeaths to the boy a house, along with property and a creepy garden shed, from which rattles and scratches come. Charlie enters and finds a large hole in the floor. This is the gate to another world.

From Stephen King the path to the Brothers Grimm seems to be quite a long one. One writes about monsters, horror pets and killer clowns, the other about Mother Hulda and the frog prince. But fairy tales can also be quite dark. In their new novel, The Fairy Tale, Stephen King and his main character Charlie embark on a journey into a fairy tale world more gruesome than the usual stories of the Brothers Grimm.

“Fairy Tale”: Charlie finds a kingdom under his canopy

Through the underground passage, peace is well, Charlie reaches the kingdom of Empis. It looks like you are imagining a fairy tale world – huge white rabbits are jumping around the meadow like in Alice’s Wonderland. A glass palace with towering spiers on the horizon, like the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. The long underground spiral staircase leading to Empis is reminiscent of the story of Jack and the beanstalk. And, like Jack, our hero Charlie will soon have to fight the bloodthirsty giants.

After all, Empis, once a prosperous kingdom, over which two moons stand, is cursed. Its inhabitants die from a cruel disease, their faces crumble, they turn gray. The princess was bewitched and became a mute goose. A disfigured creature, an air assassin, rules the country with his night soldiers, spreading terror and fear. During a journey into the underworld, young Charlie falls into the clutches of the regime – and mutates from a prisoner into a hero. But the fairytale prince doesn’t know what to expect yet.

Stephen King is well versed in horror and has been producing horror films on the assembly line for many years. More recently, however, according to his publisher, he has been suffering from months of writer’s block. “While playing frisbee with my dog, I wondered what exactly I could write to make myself happy,” he said. Then he saw a fairy-tale world in front of him.

Stephen King suffered from writer’s block for a long time.

“I wanted to write about another world, a fantasy world, and I wanted to fill the pages with adventure (and some romance),” King says. Some of them were difficult for him. “I had to learn to have fun and have fun again.”

Even in his old age (September 21, he will be 75), Stephen King has not lost his imagination. An ordinary boy who becomes Prince Charming, a bucket full of gold, an evil Rumplestiltskin, hideous giants, a sundial that turns back time – and, in the end, the ultimate battle between good and evil.

“The Tale” tells something magical and devastating in 880 pages, it’s a gripping heroic epic and horror – even if the usual goosebump factor for King is a bit lacking in the rest. “Fairy Tale” is too much of a fairy tale for that. However, it is better not to read a fairy tale to your children when they fall asleep. (dpa/dh)
© dpa