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Onyx reviews: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Song of Susannah, Book VI of the Dark Tower series, recounts the events of the day after Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, and his ka-tet defeated the Wolves in Calla Bryn Sturgis. Their success, however, was bittersweet because Mia, the demon possessing Susannah, kidnapped her through the UNFOUND door. What's worse, she took with her the evil Wizard's Glass, sealing this doorway to other worlds.

Manni magic and the innate powers of the ka-tet wrest the magic door open on the last two places it accessed. Though Roland assigns specific tasks to his group, the enigmatic force of destiny known as ka has its own plan. Father Callahan, Jake and Oy are sent to 1999 on Susannah's trail while Eddie and Roland are hurled into rural Maine in 1977, where an ambushing party led by mobster Jack Andolini lies in wait.

King manages three parallel plots throughout the book. Foremost is the story of Susannah and Mia, whose sole imperative is to give birth to the child they carry. Though Susannah is the mother, raising the child has been promised to Mia. The identity of the fetus' father will come as a shock to most readers.

They arrive in a city foreign to both; Mia is of Mid-World and thirty-five years have wrought many differences on New York since Roland plucked Susannah from 1964. If they are to survive, they must form an uneasy alliance. Susannah knows how to navigate in this world; Mia has information about the Crimson King and the nature of existence that may prove useful should Susannah ever be reunited with her friends. Susannah tries to convince Mia that she made a poor deal with people who cannot be trusted.

In Maine, Roland and Eddie seek to purchase the vacant lot supporting the rose, the Dark Tower's representation in Keystone Earth, from Calvin Tower. Tower and his friend, Aaron Deepnau, are supposed to be in hiding from Enrico Balazar, but the contrary bookseller doesn't realize the danger of his situation and he's changed his mind about selling the lot again.

The gunslingers discover they also have business with a resident of Turtleback Lane, the young author of 'Salem's Lot. They must confront their creator, who is as traumatized to meet them as they are. Though he is a minor character, King's presence adds a twist with serious implications for the remainder of the quest. The Crimson King doesn't want him to finish writing the Dark Tower series.

Finally, Jake, Oy and Callahan follow Susannah's trail toward her fateful rendezvous at the Dixie Pig. As they approach the restaurant, they prepare for the eventuality that they may not survive a confrontation with dozens of low men and vampires.

Song of Susannah sets the stage for the final book in the series, which will be published on King's birthday in September. The ka-tet learns much about the true nature of their quest but King leaves his readers with several cliffhangers and new mysteries to consider. Long-time fans of the series will be happy to see the ka-tet taking action toward their goal after two books where they covered little ground on the road to the Dark Tower.

The book hints at unpleasant things to come, but Roland and his friends have a lot left to deal with in the final volume of the book. "One more turn of the path, then we reach the clearing," King writes in the author's note. The end of a twenty-year journey is in sight.

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