Book Review: Song of Susannah by Stephen King (Series, #6)
The ka-tet faces three challenges: keep the chap from the Crimson King, save Susannah, and get Tower to sell them the rose. With the help of the Manni, they get the door to open two final times, and it sends Eddie and Roland to Maine to see Tower and Jake, Pere, and Oy to NYC in a final desperate attempt to save Susannah and the chap. Meanwhile, Susannah must face not only the foreign woman inside her, Mia, but also the figurative demons of her past and her personality in her mind.
There are elements of this book that are beautiful and quite literary, primarily everything to do with the title. There are of course two songs about Susannah. One is immediately evident. Each chapter ends with a stanza of a song, remarkably like the commala songs sung in the previous book, but of course the content of the stanza references what happened in that chapter. There’s also a song from Susannah’s past that winds up showing more about who she is and what her life has been than anything else in the books has done. What makes that beautiful is that it’s just a traditional folk song and wasn’t written by King for her at all.
Of course I’d consider this book a failure if all it did was develop Susannah’s character. The Dark Tower is about characters and the quest equally. Thankfully, this entry in the series addresses both. Various mysteries are addressed such as what the Low Men are, who Mia is, how Pere wound up in a book from another one of the worlds, and more. Plus a few new mysteries are added. But in the end the main questions remain: will the ka-tet make it to the Dark Tower and will the Dark Tower fall?
In spite of the well-written action sequences and character development, there is one aspect of this book that rubbed me the wrong way. King writes himself in as a character, but not just any character. He is the Crimson King’s opposite. In other words, he’s the essential good guy. For some reason when he writes his stories they have an impact on the worlds, so he must stay alive and keep writing the Dark Tower series if the ka-tet is to have any hope. The whole thing just reads as egotistical. Plus it forced me out of the story. I can suspend my disbelief for other worlds, but to suspend it enough to believe that the author is not only vaguely aware of these worlds but also his writing impacts them, well, it leaves you going “huh?” and kind of takes the escapism out of it. So I skimmed over the parts featuring King and tried to just focus on the ka-tet. It wasn’t that hard to do, so the King bits definitely didn’t ruin my experience; they just dulled it a bit.
Overall, this is a very good entry into the series. The characters and the plot move forward, and there are some wonderfully memorable scenes that will stick with you for a long time. If you’ve stuck with the series and enjoyed it this far, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
4 out of 5 stars