Twenty years ago, a boy named Jack Sawyer traveled to a parallel universe called the Territories to save his mother and her “Twinner” from an agonizing death that would have brought cataclysm to the other world. Now Jack is a retired Los Angeles homicide detective living in the nearly nonexistent hamlet of Tamarack, Wisconsin. He has no recollection of his adventures in the Territories, and he was compelled to leave the police force when a happenstance event threatened to awaken those long suppressed and dangerous memories.
When a series of gruesome murders occur in western Wisconsin that are reminiscent of those committed several decades earlier, Jack’s buddy, the local chief of police, begs Jack to help find the killer. But are these new killings merely the work of a disturbed individual, or has a mysterious and malignant force been unleashed in this quiet town? What causes Jack’s inexplicable waking dreams - if that is what they are - of robins’ eggs and red feathers? As these cryptic messages becomes impossible to ignore, Jack is drawn back to the Territories and to his own hidden past.
“Intelligent…Suspenseful” (Wall Street Journal)
“Overflows with dark wit…” (New York Times Book Review)
“Two master craftsmen, each at the top of his game” (Washington Post)
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Jack Sawyer delivers
Better than Talisman, but not by much
I already did - The Talisman and Dark Tower Books
I listened to The Talisman and I thought Black House was a little better, but not by much. Only because with the main character being an adult rather than a child, I think King/Straub could utilize mature themes.
Probably the hedge clipper scene at the retirement home.
“Black House” seemed to be a very different kind of story than “The Talisman”. In some ways I probably preferred BH over Talisman, but overall I was pretty underwhelmed by both stories. Obviously the only common denominator between the two was the main character – Jack Sawyer, only in BH Jack is an adult rather than a child which I think enabled the writers to bring mature elements into the story.
The supporting cast was better in BH, only because they didn’t seem like cartoon characters or even characterchures like in Talisman. I also like the fact that King & Straub steered clear of the animal-characters, which was something I didn’t care for in Talisman.
The plot of the book was enjoyable, taking more of a mystery approach rather than sci-fi; however once the sci-fi elements were introduced, the mystery vibe began to lose it’s appeal – almost surrendering the credibility of the overall story. I liked that BH had more gore and the subject matter was adult orientated.
My main complaint of BH was probably the narrative and delivery approach for how the story was told. I did not like to "float over here" and "let us drift away from there". I also found it hard to believe that a group of "hard core bikers" (one of which is a former surgeon, because there's so many surgeons that leave the medical field to pursue a life of biker-ing, right?) would immediately befriend an out-of-town cop to help solve a series of murders. The romance between Jack and Sophie seemed a little out-of-place as well, if not forced. Maybe it was an after thought that randomly made it's way into the story...who knows?
Altogether BH was worth reading if you’ve already read the Talisman; however I doubt I’d revisit either book again. I was not impressed or greatly entertained by BH; however it’s worth a read if you’re a fan of King’s Dark Tower books. There are a few bread crumbs in BH that DT fans will enjoy, but I’m not sure that it added a whole lot to the DT universe.
Pros: Dark Tower elements and a decent mystery story (less the sci-fi elements).
Cons: Clear motives for the killer would’ve been nice and the friendship between Henry & Jack should’ve been better organized and developed, as well as the romance between Jack & Sophie.
Bottom line: So-so story, not too bad but not too great.