The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub
Publisher/Year: Berkley Books, 1985
Format: Mass market paperback
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.
One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more.
Let the quest begin. . . .
What I thought
Update – 2017
There’s something about summertime reading that puts me in the mood for epic adventures,
so it was high time for another visit to see Jack Sawyer.
In looking back over my previous review, my thoughts, including my rating,
have stayed pretty much the same. There were a few things of note for me this time.
If it’s possible to do so, I loved Wolf even more. I’ve always loved Jack, but I was actually surprised by how much I appreciated Richard’s character this time. I had so much more empathy for him–I felt pretty sorry for the kid.
As for my rating, it stays the same ultimately because I much prefer Stephen King’s writing when he’s working alone than when he’s writing with Peter Straub. I can’t quite put my finger on why,
but I know I can tell the difference between their writing styles.
All told, I still very much enjoyed this novel the second time around & I think that’s a sign you’ve got an excellent book in your hands.
Initial review – 2011
Hear that? That was me finally releasing the breath I’d been holding for the last 300 pages.
This book may be thick as a brick, but it reads very quickly. At first, I have to admit, I wasn’t too sure of it. As you all probably are aware, I’m a <i>huge</i> Stephen King fan, but I haven’t read anything by Peter Straub. I was a bit nervous and a bit excited to see how the two worked together. And at first, it was a little jarring for me. It didn’t take long for me to settle down into the story, however, and get sucked into this epic tale. Speaking of which, this journey of a boy on a noble quest is certainly a perfect story for those who enjoy tales of epic proportions. I was actually pleasantly surprised, as well, by how much this book reminded me of The Dark Tower series but also by how it was as much its own tale.
There were characters to love and characters to despise. The character development that I love so much in King’s tales were definitely present here. Jack was the perfect protagonist, leaving readers rooting for him along the way, but also with enough flaws to make him seem real. Besides Jack, though, my favorite character (right here and now) was most definitely Wolf. He’s such a loveable, goofy, yet loyal guy—my favorite kind of sidekick.
Besides the characterization, the descriptive passages are to die for and the stream-of-consciousness parts worked well, producing the effect they were meant to. I was transported into this story, totally and completely. I mean, I was there. My heart would race, my heart would fall, my heart would leap. This is one of those stories you just can’t help but react to, although it was quite as scary as I was expecting. Scary in the sense that there are some really really evil characters, but I wasn’t quite as scared reading this as I have been reading some of King’s other books. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I put it down. I’d be at working, daydreaming (no pun intended) about the Territories. I didn’t want it to end. But now that it has, I supposed I have The Black House to look forward to…
Once again, I would definitely recommend this to fans of epic tales, the Dark Tower series or Stephen King in general.