Black House (2001) – Stephen King & Peter Straub

Back in 1984, Stephen King and Peter Straub paired up to craft a titanic fantasy novel known as The Talisman. Seventeen years later they paired up again to create a sequel to the tale that brought (Travelin’) Jack Sawyer back into the lives of readers.

It’s some twenty odd years later, Jack Sawyer is 31, a retired and successful homicide detective and is making a quiet life for himself in French Landing, Wisconsin. He is living an idyllic life, has true friends in a radio host, the blind Henry Leyden, and police chief Dale Gilbertson.

And he’s forgotten everything that happened in the summer when he was 12.

His small town is being rocked by a serial killer that preys on children, and the latest victim is about to be discovered just as a new child is about to be seized. And Jack is going to be caught up in the middle of it, because he is so very good at what he does.

And as terrifying as a this murderer is, the more Jack becomes involved, the more he realises that there is more going on here, and there is more than one life at stake.


There is something dark hanging over the town of French Landing, something from a world beyond ours. And it ties in directly with things that happen in the Dark Tower series, and reveals part of the vile and horrendous plans of the nefarious Crimson King.

It took me a while to get into this one, the first quarter to half of the book, I had a few issues keeping me from getting into it, even as the authors pay homage to the worls of Charles Dickens, particularly Bleak House, as well as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.

Once the tale kicks into high gear, and Jack Sawyer is on the case again, the story gets really good, as well as truly unnerving and occasionally scary moments. As the story unfolds we settle back in comfortably with Jack and his new friends, even as we recall his previous adventures with Wolf, and Richard Sloat.

There is a nice reveal for Jack’s heart partway through the book which is really nice, and powerful after it occurs. It feels like the character has been waiting a long time for something like that.

The further I got into the book, the more and more I enjoyed it, riding high through the terrifying climax (though I think more time could have been spent within Black House itself) and I loved catching up with Jack and seeing where his life has taken him in the time we spent apart. It was like catching up with an old friend just long enough to plunge us into another adventure.

There are rumours of a third novel to come, and I hope we don’t have to wait too much longer for it – because Ka works and the world moves on.



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