'She might be a good nurse, and fair, but Roland thought her a poor liar. He was glad. Good liars were common. Honesty, on the other hand, came dear.'
Before beginning the Dark Tower books King was primarily known as a horror writer. The Dark Tower was a departure from that. It's essentially a Western wedded to a traditional Tolkien-esque fantasy, wherein the journey is of more importance than the destination. The reason I mention all of that is because the horror that he used to do so well can be strongly felt in this short piece. It creeps in tentatively at first but takes hold quickly. It's a fantasy-western-horror novella, and it works. It feels like an experiment that really paid off. It's perhaps the freshest instalment he's delivered since the very first book.
I'm not going to bother with a synopsis because if you've read previous Dark Tower books then you'll already know if you want to read more. Nothing will change that. But if you're new to Mid World, it'd be best not to start your journey here. It's primarily for readers with an existing knowledge of the series.
It starts out like a choose-your-own-adventure book that has had all the choices already made by someone else, but that's simply to get gunslinger Roland Deschain to where King needs him to be; the shorter format necessitates it. It also forces him to trim the waffle he usually spews, making this work a fast-paced adventure that left me wanting more.
NOTE: The short was released one year after Vol IV: Wizard and Glass (1997) but takes place before Vol I: The Gunslinger (1982). Does that make it the earliest of Roland's adventures chronologically? No, because it also confusingly takes place sometime after the events in Mejis, mentioned in Wizard and Glass. That places it prior the formation of the ka-tet, but after the Susan Delgado time period.
3½ thoughtful houses out of 5