The Dark Tower series by Stephen King is the best of a thousand genres. It’s got the Sergio Leone-spaghetti western style grit, it’s got the fantasical science-fiction elements from Westworld, and it lives and breathes in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style universe where everything is out to impede your journey.
The one thing that feels different about Book V: Wolves of the Calla is that it’s the first book in the series since The Gunslinger that feels like a complete story from start to finish.
We find Roland and his ka-tet following their escape from the Emerald City (yes, they did travel there) and Walter O’Dim, the Man in Black himself. We’re taken to the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis, where the townsfolk await the impending assault by the Wolves of Thunderclap, a mysterious group of robotic riders who appear every twenty-three years and kidnap children.
They take the kids away, make them roont (or ‘ruined’), and return them home, where they are cursed to grow to enormous sizes with pea-sized brains and die young.
In this story, we are also introduced to Father Callahan, a character who appeared in another Stephen King story, Salem’s Lot. Callahan quickly becomes part of Roland’s ka-tet, but he also possesses another powerful stone known as ‘Black Thirteen’, which can allow the group to travel between Mid-World and the real world, where Jake, Susannah, Eddie and Callahan all come from.
Not to mention, Susannah is carrying around some sort of demon child following the events that took place in Book III that helped re-introduce us to the character of Jake. We also meet a shit ton of townsfolk who are all well developed and likeable characters (well, most of them at least).
This story is jam packed. There’s a lot of story, a lot of characters, and somehow King manages to tie them all together, helping bring the story to a cohesive conclusion.
However, the real story involves the townsfolk, led by Roland and his ka-tet, gearing up for the final showdown with the Wolves of Thunderclap. Wolves of the Calla proved to be another page-turner that delivered tension, and had us dangling out on the edge chasing a fish hook, luring us right to a satisfying conclusion.
Callahan’s character is a welcome addition to the mix. For those of you who haven’t read Salem’s Lot (myself included), it’s nice to see King building out his own multi-verse, having his characters cross over into other stories, with The Dark Tower sitting at the end of the six Beams controlling it all.
Wolves is a satisfying follow-up to Wizard and Glass, and it’s got a cliffhanger ending! I’m more than ready to dive straight into Book VI, Song of Susannah, where we will hopefully get to see the story of Susannah’s demon baby come to a head.
FINAL SCORE: 3.5 out of 5