Fairy Tale Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle.
Early in the Pandemic, King asked himself: “What could you write that would make you happy?”
“As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city—deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues (of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out). I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||24 hours and 6 minutes|
|Narrator||Stephen King, Seth Numrich|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 06, 2022|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #11 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Supernatural Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#2 in Supernatural Thrillers (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on January 3, 2023
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Fairy Tale was told in the first person by twenty-four year old Charlie Reade as he looked back on his life the year he had turned seventeen. Charlie had been an only child. He lived in Sentry, Illinois with his mother and father. One afternoon when Charlie had been seven years old, his mother had decided to walk to town to buy a bucket of chicken for dinner. His mother left Charlie and his father watching a baseball game on the television. After buying the bucket of chicken, Charlie’s mother started to walk home. She was eating an extra piece of the chicken while she walked. As she started to cross “that G D bridge” on her way home, a truck came out of nowhere, hit her and she died instantly. Charlie and his father were devastated as they learned about her death. The only way that Charlie’s father was able to cope with his wife’s death was by drowning his sorrows with alcohol. Before too long, Charlie’s father was a certifiable alcoholic. Charlie was forced to grow up very fast. He became the caregiver for his father. When Charlie’s father’s drinking problems became so severe, he was fired from his job. Charlie envisioned that he and his father could potentially become homeless or worse. It was then that Charlie started to pray that his father would stop drinking. Charlie made a promise to G-d that day. If G-d would make his father stop drinking, Charlie would pay it forward and help someone else in need. Just in the nick of time, Charlie’s father’s friend stepped in. His father’s friend became his sponsor in Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Taking one baby step at a time, Charlie’s father found his way to sobriety.
There was a house at the top of the hill on the street that Charlie lived that was known by the neighborhood children as the “psycho house “. One day, Charlie was walking home and as he was passing that house he heard a dog barking frantically. The man who lived there was quite reclusive. No one knew a lot about him and he seldom left his home. One of Charlie’s friends had warned him that he had seen the dog that lived there several years ago and that it was quite vicious. Charlie pondered about what to do. He thought that something was wrong. Charlie decided to climb over the fence to see. When Charlie got to the backyard, he saw that the old man that lived there had fallen off a ladder and was hurt very badly. Charlie called 911 and got an ambulance to come and help the man. The man’s name was Mr. Bowditch. It was just Mr. Bowditch and his dog, Radar that lived in the house. Mr Bowditch did not have a wife, children or any living relatives. Before the ambulance took Mr. Bowditch to the hospital, Charlie offered to take care of Radar and feed him for Mr. Bowditch. That was the beginning of Charlie making good on the promise he made with G-d. Over the course of Mr. Bowditch’s recovery, Charlie became his caregiver and the two formed the most unlikely but beautiful friendship that anyone could have imagined.
Mr. Bowditch was not your typical neighbor as you might have already surmised. He hoarded lots of things in his house and he was opposed to modern day conveniences and technology. His t.v. was probably as old as he was. It had rabbit ears and an antenna on the roof. He was not in the possession of a cell phone or a computer and he had no desire to own one either. One thing was apparent, though. Mr. Bowditch loved Radar with all his heart and the same could be said for Radar’s feelings towards Mr. Bowditch. When Mr. Bowditch came home from the hospital, he began to confide in Charlie about some things. Mr. Bowditch had to pay the hospital for his stay and the surgeries he had. Charlie learned about the gold that Mr. Bowditch was in possession of and that strange noises that could be heard coming from the padlocked shed on Mr. Bowditch’s property. Mr. Bowditch revealed information to Charlie on a need to know basis. One day, while Charlie was at school, he got a call from Mr. Bowditch. Charlie could tell that something was wrong. Mr. Bowditch was having a heart attack. He needed Charlie to know some very important things. Probably the most important thing Mr. Bowditch revealed to Charlie had to do with the shed on his property. Mr. Bowditch told Charlie that within the shed was a well that led to the “other world” where the sundial existed. Years ago, Mr. Bowditch had gone on the sundial to make himself younger. Mr. Bowditch had shared this information with Charlie already. As Charlie continued listening to the all that Mr. Bowditch had to tell him, tears welled up in his eyes. Charlie knew that Mr. Bowditch was dying. By the time that the ambulance got to Mr. Bowditch’s house, he was already dead. Charlie took Radar to his own house. Radar became his dog on that day. Unfortunately, Radar was also quite old and didn’t have long to live. That was when a plan started to formulate in Charlie’s mind. He could not loose Radar too. Charlie would do whatever he had to do to find the sundial and make Radar young again.
The next part of Fairy Tale took place in the “other world” known as Empis. The fairy tale characters were very creative yet believable. Charlie’s adventurous journey was full of discovery, magic, dangers, good, evil and monsters. Some of the scenes were gruesome and unpleasant but for the most part they were well plotted and even uplifting. The ending was quite satisfying and it tied everything up quite nicely. I found myself thinking about the characters long after the book ended. Charlie was my favorite character by far. I am so glad that I took a chance and read Fairy Tale by Stephen King. I highly recommend it.
Charlie Reade tells us the story of his adventure when he was seventeen years old. He tells it from the age of about 24 and is looking back on that time of his life when he saved an old man’s life and discovered a portal into another world that needed a prince charming to come and save it.
When Charlie was a young boy, his mother was killed in a terrible accident while walking home from the store. His father became an alcoholic. Although he eventually sobered up, there was that time when young Charlie had to take care of himself while his father was unable to do so.
In Charlie’s neighborhood of Sentry, Illinois, there is a large, old house on a hill owned by an old, reclusive man with a dog that scares the neighborhood children. One day, when Charlie is seventeen, he is riding his bike past the old house when he hears the dog barking behind the house. Charlie decides to go up the hill to the house to see what is going on. The old man, Mr. Bowditch, has fallen and can’t get up. Charlie calls 911, and when Mr. Bowditch is taken to the hospital, Charlie promises him that he will take care of his dog. This is the beginning, as they say, of a beautiful friendship. The way their friendship develops is beautifully written. This friendship is key to Charlie’s exposure to the fairy tale world of Empis. Charlie goes on a true adventure, and it will forever change his life.
Stephen King did a great job of creating an adult fairy tale. It is not surprising that one of my favorite books of his is The Eyes of the Dragon. I love his take on fantasy and hope he writes more. One of my favorite lines in the book is from Charlie: “As for the world I come from . . . I think all worlds are magic. We just get used to it.”
The characters are just so in depth and complex, I adore them all. It's like I walked into a Tim Burton film, they're so odd, but loveable. They really stand out. Charlie, the main character really grows throughout this book and you can see the almost "coming of age" sort of story you get with IT in their younger years - but with a boy and his Dog instead of a group of kids. King writes the younger generations so well. Then you get this plethora of vibrant and pragmatic characters throughout the book that just really keep you interested and keep the plot moving along, because the thick of the plot is really about what these characters are going through and what's happened to them. I don't want to say too much and spoil anything.
But at the same time you have these characters going through all of this dark and twisted stuff, you're in this complete fantasy world that is also shaded in darkness, but King makes the atmosphere feel so rich and real, as if you yourself have stepped onto the pages and are taking this journey with them. It's incredibly immersive and when the characters laugh, you laugh, but when they get a sense of foreboding, so do you.
So do yourself a favor and read this book, it's one of Kings best works to date that I've read. Possibly one of the only good things to come out of the Covid Pandemic.
Top reviews from other countries
So looking forward to entering another world of King's imagination even though I'm now 75 years old!
HERE WE GO!!!!!!!
I was about to dive into "Fairy Tale" when the magical 'fairy' queen passed away!
I am so terribly sad that such a beautiful, dutiful and dedicated queen, mother and "rock" of our nation is no longer with us.
I pray that our new king finds the strength to rule in a way that even approaches the heights that his late mother achieved. I am sure that he will!
I will begin my journey into Stephen King's world very soon. In the meantime, as the King said, "THANK YOU"!
A final thought now that I'm only a very few pages away from finishing reading, and because I'm saving the denouement for a few days. I would like to say that this is, in my opinion, one of the very best of SK's novels. I have found it charming, surprising, inventive and (because he takes the reader along with him on a personal journey) almost a privilege to walk in this world with the hero. Even though some moments should have been too tense and horrific to witness, it's as if SK has his arm around your shoulders, reassuring the reader that everything will eventually be fine!
What a marvelous creation!!!!
Many of the references throughout the story of Charlie Reade and his travel to the world of Empis are overt – Disney, Grimm Fairy tales, Ray Bradbury and HP Lovecraft, but there are as many snippets and ideas taken in other directions from King’s own work.
Charlie befriends curmudgeonly old Mr Bowditch and his dog Radar; I don’t think it’s too much of a plot spoiler to say that the shed on Bowditch’s land leads to somewhere…different. And if there are similarities between that and Jake Epping’s relationship with, and legacy from, his friend Al Templeton in 11/22/63, then rest assured the doorway here leads somewhere very different.
While King might have been writing more ‘grounded’ fiction recently (Billy Summers, the Bill Hodges trilogy, etc) he’s also been mixing it up with more ‘fantastical’ works like Revelation, The Institute and Elevation, and in Fairy Tale he combines the two states: it is, in effect, 150 pages before ‘the weird stuff’ starts happening. For some that may feel like a too slow build – for King fans it feels like a return to the many well drawn out portrayals of teenagers King has written about so often.
The closest comparisons, given the ‘different worlds’ basic premise are, of course, going to be the author’s Dark Tower series and The Talisman (fittingly, if sadly, I read Fairy Tale on the day it was announced King’s co-author of the latter, Peter Straub, passed away). Considering the vein from the Dark Tower that runs through so much of King’s work, there’s relatively little mention here. There’s a quote from a certain Browning poem early on, and a single line late in the book which will be familiar to readers of the series, but otherwise, not so much. The Talisman feels a closer parallel to the story: the protagonist may be older, and the journey may be less fragmented between worlds, but it had that same feeling for me.
All of the above may be a bit too fan-focused. At the end of the day, is it a good story?
And the answer, for me, was that yes, it’s a rich, satisfying story. In some ways, it’s the story of stories. King is long enough in the tooth to recognise and embrace the influences from oldest folklore to more recent cultural phenomenon of the mythic quest and the hero’s journey. (No coincidence he points out the princess in the tale ‘Leah’ could be Princess Leia.
It’s a long book for your average author, but very much in the midway range for King – clocking in at around 570 pages, and one to read. By that, I mean, don’t wait for the tv/ film adaptation that is bound to come; the level of self or cultural reference, much of it recognised and pointed out by the narrator/ protagonist, has the potential to work less well than it does on the printed page. Instead, give yourself a chance to get into the story and enjoy the world and characters created with your own imagination; like Charlie in the book, you’ll be set on the right path by someone who’s been there and done it.
For the first third of the book, the story is quite straightforward. A boy fulfilling a promise to a god he only partially believes in helps an old man and his dog. Seventeen-year-old Charlie Reade is no saint, he makes that clear from the beginning. He has done things he is not proud of, cruel things he tried to justify as pranks, but which he knows hurt and distressed people. That they came from the anger of a boy whose mother died suddenly and violently and whose father drowned his grief in a bottle, only serve to make Charlie the kind of balanced and realistic main character who is a feature of King novels.
As the old man’s secrets are revealed a new world opens for Charlie, and he has the opportunity to become the kind of hero fairy tales talk about. But, being a King fairy tale he maintains doubts, is driven by revenge as often as justice, and maintains a believable character.
The story reminds me a little of The Black House and its sequel (the duology King wrote with Peter Straub), and a little of The Eyes of the Dragon (a more purist fantasy outing from King). I loved all of these, so am not surprised that King handles the fantasy elements of the other world in Fairy Tale so well. Indeed for someone most often described as a horror writer there are probably more fantasy elements to his novels overall than any other genre. But, one of the things I most love about Stephen King novels is that the genre is irrelevant - it's the combination of great storytelling with engaging characters that brings me back to his worlds time and time again.
The tale itself revisits certain character types and themes seen in many of SK’s previous books: a young boy who is somehow special but has flaws; an old man who needs some kind of care (qv SK’s recent novelette, Mr Harrigan’s Phone) and a portal to another world. Yet somehow, SK seems to provide fresh perspectives on these tropes. I would say the novel is in two parts — the earthly part and the fantastical part. Part 1 sees the hero, Charlie, having to deal with his mother’s death and the father’s subsequent descent into alcoholism. The boy having to cope with this, and make a ‘deal with God,’ provides the motivation for him helping the grumpy Mr Bowditch who lives at an old house further up the street. The old Man falls and breaks his leg, so Charlie comes to the rescue of both him, and his aging dog, Radar. As Charlie helps the old man recover, they begin to trust each other, and Bowditch lets him in on the secret of the shed in his back garden. This, it turns out, is the aforementioned portal.
Due to a number of circumstances, which I won’t spoil here, Charlie ventures into the world beyond the deep portal in Bowditch’s shed and encounters the Fairy Tale world of Empis. This requires a shift in belief-acceptance for the reader, but King leads us in gently through his masterful use of the ‘diary’ first person narrative of Charlie. From here on in it’s into full-on fantasy mode where SK weaves together many Grimm-based elements, together with a Lovecraftian horror in the form of ‘Gogmagog’. There are multiple villains, friends and allies to meet, and this second part makes up the bulk of the book.
Some criticise King from a plotting point of view, but for someone who has no idea how a book will ends when he starts it, this accomplishment is all the more amazing, to my mind. Unlike earlier books, the gore-horror elements are downplayed in favour of the characters and suspense coming to the fore.
If you’re already a King fan, you won’t be disappointed by ‘Fairy Tale.’ If this is your introduction, it gives a perfect example of where this storyteller is at as he approaches the twilight of his career.