Literature: The Wind Through the Keyhole

Preceeded by The Dark Tower.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is the eighth novel in Stephen King's The Dark Tower. It is an interquel that takes place between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla.

Roland tells his ka-tet a story about his past; months after his mother's death, his father sent him and Jamie DeCurry to the small town of Debaria to investigate a "skin-man", a shapeshifter who has been terrorizing the villagers. Also told is a legend of Mid-World about a young boy named Tim who goes on a dangerous quest through the Endless Forest to save his mother.

The Wind Through the Keyhole provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Ambush Arroyo is not an arroyo. The locals just like the way the name rolls off the tongue.
  • And I Must Scream: Maerlyn is trapped in the form of a 'tyger' and imprisoned in a cage for years. He returns to normal after Tim rescues him, however.
  • Another Story for Another Time: said several times in regards to other adventures of Tim.
  • Arc Words: Present in other Dark Tower books but particularly prominent in this one: "There will be water if God wills it".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted twice with Tim's teacher and one of the women at Serenity; both were once beautiful but now suffer from hideous disfigurements.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The various monsters and creatures that Tim encounters in the Endless Forest either spare his life or help him on his journey.
  • The Fair Folk: The 'sighe,' a sprite-like, hypnotic creature whose name—Armaneeta—is just one phoneme away from Amanita, the genus of mushroom that includes the death cap.
  • For the Evulz: Pretty much the only reason the Covenant Man sends poor old Tim on his quest.
  • Framing Device: Roland tells the ka-tet about his encounter with the "skin-man". In his flashback, we get another story within a story about the legend of "The Wind through the Keyhole" with Tim. So it's a story within a story within a story within a story, basically.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Tim is given an artifact of the Great Old Ones by the plant people he meets in a swamp; DARIA, an electronic guidance service. At first she treats Tim as just another traveller, but soon she grows fond enough of him that she starts going out of her way to help him. She even violates directive 19 to give him classified information, despite knowing that this will kill her.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: While all of the Dark Tower books have been made available in "Limited Editions", this marks the first time that the illustrations were not available with the standard trade edition.
  • Kid Hero: Tim
  • The Lost Woods: The Endless Forest.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Covenant Man, and Randall Flagg as usual.
  • Merlin Sickness: Discussed trope. Tim asks Maerlyn if it's true, and he says it isn't, but nobody ever believes how mundane his life actually is.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Skin-man". Seriously, is there anything positive that can be associated with such a creepy name?
  • Nested Story: See the description under Framing Device above.
  • Nonindicative Name: The title, almost to the point of being a Red Herring. Tim is about to be set upon by a 'starkblast' storm, there is a potential shelter with a locked door, and he has to obtain a key for it from a dangerous place. Do you see where this is going? Well you're wrong—the key doesn't work, he finds a different way to shelter from the storm, and 'the wind through the keyhole' is an almost completely unrelated philosophical phrase he comes up with.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Covenant Man and 'RF' set up Tim for a multi-layered one. A caged tyger has a key to a shelter from a deadly storm around his neck. Tim at first thinks the choice is to die in the storm or risk his life to get the key. Then he remembers he has a gun. The Tyger is actually Maerlyn forcibly transformed, so if Tim shot it, he would be killing a good man. He takes a third option and chooses to trust the tyger and free it...but the key doesn't work in an extra level of sadism. Fortunately he finds a different way out.
  • Shape Shifter Swan Song: Happens to the skin-man when he dies.
  • Shout-Out: The Lion Guardian of the Beams is called Aslan.
    • More subtly, the scenes with Tim and the Tyger evoke Life of Pi. And the spelling of 'tyger' probably comes from William Blake's poem "The Tyger", the Trope Namer for Fearful Symmetry.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: The "skin-man" who is able to shape-shift into various types of animals.
  • Plant Person: The swamp creatures.
  • Whole Episode Flashback
  • Wild Mass Guessing: an in-universe example; after Roland tells him the story of Tim, Bill wonders how Maerlyn could eat during the years he was caged as a tiger. Roland doesn't know, so Bill theorizes Maerlyn must still have had some magic left, even as a tiger, and used this to create food for himself.
  • You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: Tim realizes that DARIA, a guidance service of North Central Positronics, is serious about there being danger when she starts calling him by his name rather than reverring to him as 'traveller'.