Review – Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower VI) by Stephen King

song of susannah“You know,” King said, “I’m not much good at telling stories. That sounds like a paradox, but it’s not; it’s the reason I write them down.”

“Anger is the most useless emotion,” Henchick intoned, “destructive to the mind and hurtful to the heart.”

Song of Susannah is the sixth book in The Dark Tower series and leaves us with only one more to complete the saga.  From Goodreads: “To give birth to her “chap,” demon-mother Mia has usurped the body of Susannah Dean and used the power of Black Thirteen to transport to New York City in the summer of 1999. The city is strange to Susannah…and terrifying to the “daughter of none,” who shares her body and mind.  Saving the Tower depends not only on rescuing Susannah but also on securing the vacant lot Calvin Tower owns before he loses it to the Sombra Corporation. Enlisting the aid of Manni senders, the remaining katet climbs to the Doorway Cave…and discovers that magic has its own mind. It falls to the boy, the billy-bumbler, and the fallen priest to find Susannah-Mia, who, in a struggle to cope with each other and with an alien environment “go todash” to Castle Discordia on the border of End-World. In that forsaken place, Mia reveals her origins, her purpose, and her fierce desire to mother whatever creature the two of them have carried to term.  Eddie and Roland, meanwhile, tumble into western Maine in the summer of 1977, a world that should be idyllic but isn’t. For one thing, it is real, and the bullets are flying. For another, it is inhabited by the author of a novel called ‘Salem’s Lot, a writer who turns out to be as shocked by them as they are by him.  These are the simple vectors of a story rich incomplexity and conflict. Its dual climaxes, one at the entrance to a deadly dining establishment and the other appended to the pages of a writer’s journal, will leave readers gasping for the saga’s final volume (which, Dear Reader, follows soon, say thank ya).”

“Ah, but comfort served cold was better than no comfort at all.”  Song of Susannah is a tough book to rate.  While it was tightly written and furthered the story, it also left me somewhat frustrated.  I may only be feeling the end of the series coming but there are so many plot points that need to be completed and we seem to have a long way to go.  Susannah/Mia/Detta worked as the primary character in this novel.  There were actually times I was pulling for Detta and I thought that would never happen.  Susannah really showed her strength as well.  Mia, well, she is just a mess.  We received some answers as to how Susannah came to be in this position but I have no clue as to her fate.  Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

My brow was most furrowed when King made himself a character in the novel.  I knew that it was a possibility since “‘Salem’s Lot” showed up in the last installment.  But, he took it a little further than I expected and I’m still not sure how I feel about that.  Part of me believes it is genius and the other part of me thinks that it is extremely narcissistic.  Trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible so I will only point out that Book 4 in the series was published in 1997.  King’s life was forever altered when he was struck by a minivan in 1999.  Book 5, published in 2003, first mentions King as a character.  Song of Susannah (Book 6-published in 2004) takes it even further.  It is clear that this life event had such an impact on King and his writing that he couldn’t ignore it.  There is a feeling of foreboding and fate surrounding his character (even described as a dark aura).  He has strong feelings of destiny regarding telling the Dark Tower story.  Roland is even physically based on himself. I wonder if he struggled with the realization that the story could have been left unfinished if he had actually died that day.  To be honest, it was hard to read his thoughts on his own mortality and what could have happened.  And, his guilt regarding his personal demons and his family….no words.

4/5 stars for a beautiful book that frustrated me.

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