I loved everything about this book. I’m not really sure why I’m surprised by this, but I am. I expected to like The Drawing of the Three in the same way that I liked The Gunslinger, but I love it with the same ferocity I do The Stand. It is, in my opinion, the most powerful and successful entry into the portal fantasy subgenre since C.S. Lewis penned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yes, it’s really that good.
“Because the difference between seeing and not seeing can be the difference between living and dying.”
The Drawing of the Three begins exactly where The Gunslinger left off. Roland finds himself on an incredibly freakish beach, so odd in fact that I assumed it was some kind of fevered dream sequence. This setting is also the source of my favorite new made-up word: lobstrosity. It’s the perfect description for the hellish crustaceans that populate the beachscape. (Seriously, they’re terrifying.) After enduring a horror that I won’t go into since I view it as a spoiler, Roland begins the drawing of the three he will need to find the Dark Tower. He finds these three through supernatural doors he finds along the coastline. Each door leads to a particular time and place in our own world, and each door represents a different person: the Prisoner, the Lady of Shadows, and the Pusher. The way in which Roland interacts with these individuals is fascinating. And these new characters in the cast are incredibly compelling. Eddie in particular grew so much throughout the telling of this story. By the end of the novel, I cared deeply about every single character.
“What we like to think of ourselves and what we really are rarely have much in common….”
One element of this book that I found surprising was how deftly King handled demons. Not supernatural, Hail Satan demons. I’m talking about demons that we all face and fight throughout our lives. In the pages of this book, King explored addiction, mental illness, and physical handicaps in ways that are honest yet so respectful, and that are most of all relatable. Whatever you’ve struggled with in your life, there’s something about this book that makes you feel seen. There’s also a level of tension that King manages to maintain so well over the course of the book. No part of this story felt like it was dragging to me. But even in the midst of some incredibly tense scenes, Roland’s complete befuddlement with our world and his baffled interaction with it had me actually laughing out loud on occasion, which was a welcome relief from all that tension. His reaction to his first sip of Pepsi is a prime example.
“For every mother who ever cursed God for her child dead in the road, for every father who ever cursed the man who sent him away from the factory with no job, for every child who was ever born to pain and asked why, this is the answer. Our lives are like these things I build. Sometimes they fall down for a reason, sometimes they fall down for no reason at all.”
Something I’m coming to love more and more is King’s tendency to reference himself. For example, there were quite a few blatant references to The Shining from one character, though this was regarding the Kubrick film instead of the novel. I don’t know that anyone else could refer to their past work so believably, as King has left such a huge imprint on the modern collective consciousness. One of my favorite aspects of reading any of King’s books has become the hunt for these little references to his own catalogue. I’m super excited to see how everything I’ve read, and the books of his that are in my future, are going to end up tying into the Dark Tower.
“We are going to fight. We are going to be hurt. And in the end, we will stand.”
The Drawing of the Three is quite honestly one of my most surprising reading experiences of 2020 so far. I’m ecstatic that I loved it so much. The more I read from King, the more I love him. I can’t believe that an author whose writing style I once could not stand has become one of my very favorites. I honestly cannot wait to see where Roland’s journey to the Tower takes him and his companions next.
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