Song of Susannah by Stephen King
|Book Name:||Song of Susannah|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook|
|Release Date:||June 8, 2004|
Wow, did this series get super weird. I don’t even know where to begin with Song of Susannah (SOS as I like to think of it). Considerably shorter than Wolves of the Calla, SOS is a fast-paced can of craziness with the main aim of setting up the climax of the series. It’s fun, it’s confusing, and it’s absolutely mental.
This book, along with Calla, is part of King’s shall we say…’whirlwind trilogy’. The series by this point was able to be introduced to a new audience as ‘decades in the making’ with King leaving gaps of many years between instalments. In-between the publication of Wizard and Glass and Calla, King was hit by a van whilst on a walk by his home. This had a serious impact on his health to the point where he almost gave up writing entirely. Having decided to keep it up, it seems that King was very concerned to see the end of his Dark Tower series. Due in part to this, the last three books were churned out at breakneck speed, all three delivered within two years. This was a pace previously unseen in the publication history of The Dark Tower and it really shows in the narrative of the storyline as the last three feel much more closely linked than any of the previous instalments.
Much like the latter half of film trilogies tend to feel more linked due to being filmed back to back (Pirates of the Caribbean, Back to the Future, The Matrix, to name but a few). What this did for the series created a massive boost of acceleration in the pacing of the book (much like Brandon Sanderson’s involvement in the last three Wheel of Time novels) and brought about the inclusion of a number of different elements of the plot which were previously either only slightly hinted at, or completely non-existent. King also includes concepts in SOS which truly begin to blur the lines between fiction and reality. These vicissitudes seem to have incited a rather lukewarm reception in the reading community, as for myself, I loved it.
As a previous student of literature (not trying to blow my own trumpet at all) I have a love for authors that subvert tropes, spice their plots with tempestuous concepts, and challenge the reader to question the nature of reality and their own perception of the world as we know it. SOS does just that. It is certainly the most complicated of the Dark Tower novels, the most ambitious, and without a doubt the most audacious. Some may accuse King of pretentiousness (a word I have come to truly despise as it seems to be used by people who believe that artists are somehow going above and beyond their station and right in trying something new), I, however, applaud him for taking the series in an unprecedented direction. What we get is an already detailed series getting an added layer of depth. This series encourages questions, it encourages imagination, and it keeps the reader forever guessing.
As the title suggests, Song of Susannah is focused primarily on the character of Susannah as she goes through the final stages of her supernatural pregnancy and her inner battle with the spirit Mia who possessed her without her knowledge with the intent to steal and bring up her baby. This mental battle is a source of significant challenge to Susannah. Building on her background initially set up in The Drawing of the Three, and spiced up by her now acceptance of the savage Detta Walker part of her psyche and her new identity as gunslinger, we come across a strong Susannah who is prepared to fight for her unborn child and for The Dark Tower itself. Her plot includes a new insight into the workings of the nigh omnipresent Crimson King and the levels the antagonists of the series are prepared to stoop to achieve their end-goal. SOS is a very personal story which primarily focuses on the struggle between a woman and her (quite-literal) inner demons. It includes the oddities and fascinating elements that we have come to love of this series, with an ending so weird it makes you think like you’ve walked into a different story altogether.
This is supported by the side-plot of Eddie and Roland who are continuing their mission to protect the beams to stop the fall of the Dark Tower. This is the part of the story that I spoke of earlier in my introductory paragraphs and one I can’t really go into without exploring spoiler territory so I won’t say anymore. The characters of Roland and Eddie are fantastic and I loved their little double-team so much that I wished I could have seen more of them acting as a partnership. Roland and Eddie: Gunslingers saving the World (A spin-off series perhaps?).
A smaller part of the plot is given to Jake and Callahan, the remaining members of the ka-tet. They are on a search and rescue mission to find Susannah and so a lot of their activity is basically to trace her footsteps. It’s a shame that not much page time is dedicated to them as Jake is an integral part of the series and Callahan is a great recent inclusion in the storyline. However, they do have a great cliff-hanger that leaves the reader dying to read the final volume, which is always a plus.
The actual end of the book as well is very shocking and again makes the reader yearn to find out how the series is going to end. Song of Susannah is mainly asset-up novel but it does bring to fruition a lot of elements that King has spent decades building up to and is a fine tribute to the weirdness of the story as a whole. Top marks to this novel and to this series that continues to mess with reader’s minds and expectations with new wild and wacky twists at every corner.