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Why had twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer’s mother frantically moved the two of them from Rodeo Drive to a New York City apartment to the Alhambra, a fading ocean resort and shuttered amusement park in New Hampshire? Who or what is she running from? She is dying . . . and even young Jack knows she can’t outrun death. But only he can save her—for he has been chosen to search for a prize across an epic landscape of dangers and lies, a realm of innocents and monsters, where everything Jack loves is on the line.

Topics: Ghosts, New Hampshire, Speculative Fiction, Suspenseful, Macabre, Werewolves, Alternate Universe, Supernatural Powers, Family, Journeys, and Road Trip

Published: Pocket Books on Sep 25, 2012
ISBN: 9781451698367
List price: $9.99
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One of my favorites! King and Straube created a fantastic fantasy world fraught with danger and mystery.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Best book ever! I loved this book. of course I'm a huge SK fan so that helps. this book is fantasy,mystery and thriller all rolled into one. I've read it at least 5 times. its a good long read but never boring. You will fall in love with Jack, Wolf and you will want to visit The Territories. Do yourself a favor. Start this book today. Now. read more
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I was in high school the first time I ever this, and I have gone back to re-read it four or five times since then. This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a perfect blend of fantasy, horror, and adventure. The story pulls you along, enticing you at every corner, making it very difficult to put the book down once you've picked it up. I am sad every time it ends. The story continues in Black House, but Black House isn't nearly as good as The Talisman in my opinion. Everything I loved about The Talisman seemed to be missing from Black House. However, I highly recommend The Talisman to anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and the King of horror. read more
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One of my favorites! King and Straube created a fantastic fantasy world fraught with danger and mystery.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Best book ever! I loved this book. of course I'm a huge SK fan so that helps. this book is fantasy,mystery and thriller all rolled into one. I've read it at least 5 times. its a good long read but never boring. You will fall in love with Jack, Wolf and you will want to visit The Territories. Do yourself a favor. Start this book today. Now.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I was in high school the first time I ever this, and I have gone back to re-read it four or five times since then. This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a perfect blend of fantasy, horror, and adventure. The story pulls you along, enticing you at every corner, making it very difficult to put the book down once you've picked it up. I am sad every time it ends. The story continues in Black House, but Black House isn't nearly as good as The Talisman in my opinion. Everything I loved about The Talisman seemed to be missing from Black House. However, I highly recommend The Talisman to anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and the King of horror.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jack arrives at the Alhambra hotel in New Hampshire with the knowledge that his mother is sick and probably dying. In the slow season for the tourist town, no one is around and Jack spends his days wandering around empty beaches and an old abandoned amusement park. His only friend is Speedy Parker, an old jazz musician turned custodian, who sends him off on a journey between world in search of a magical talisman that can save his mother's life. The story is epic in scope, jumping between this world and an alternate parallel world, each presenting their own unique horrors, as Jack travels across the U.S. Though firmly rooted in fantasy, with our young hero going on a quest for a magical object that can defeat evil in the name of a good queen, the novel also presents numerous horror tropes, including lots of blood splatter, popping eyeballs, grotesque creatures, and other moments of gore and the macabre, as well as the occasional gratuitous allusion to sex. The first chunk of 100 pages or so were slow going for me at first. One, because there's the long build up before Jack finally takes action (he's a kid, so I can forgive him his indecision). And two, because the character Speedy Parker (a.k.a. the "Magical Negro") annoyed me from the get-go, because he's just such a caricature of a person without much (or any) depth beyond giving Jack a boost into his adventure and show up at opportune times to keep him going. King is kind of known for using the "Magical Negro" trope in several of his novels, so I'm not surprised to see it, but still. Anyway, after those first hundred pages, I was into the story enough that it all began to flow and it carried me easily through the bulk of the story. I simultaneously loved and was annoyed by the character Wolf, as I was with the character Richard. The villains are all ugly and villainous, with not much dimension to them beyond their desire for power and their delight in cruelty. The good guys are very good and the bad guys are very, very bad and there is no in between.Jack is the only one that was fully and complete character. You get to see him grow from a very young boy into an early adulthood by the end of the book. He has moment of darkness and cruelty in him, while all the while striving to be brave and noble and good. He's very, very different by the end of the book than he is at the beginning. It's interesting that this was cowritten by King and Straub, because it was so cohesive that I couldn't tell who wrote what. However, the moments of sheer gore certainly had King's particular flair and in general this seemed a King sort of book, so much so that I didn't see much of Straub in it (maybe it's because I haven't read enough Straub, but based on what I have read he seems more multidimensional than this).So, I guess my final analysis is that I really, really enjoyed this book with some rather strong reservations.
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I've never read anything written solely by Peter Straub, so I didn't really know what to expect from a collaboration between him and Stephen King. Honestly, in the end, it just felt mostly like a Stephen King book, but maybe that's because I haven't read any Peter Straub. In terms of the writing on a basic level, The Talisman is a pretty easy read. The flow is pretty good and there aren't any stupidly show-offy words or anything like it. At times it does feel a bit like it could do with some editing, but overall, I liked it.

I liked the plot quite a lot. The core principle is something anyone can relate to, really: someone close to Jack Sawyer is dying, and he has to find a cure. The way this plays out isn't so realistic, perhaps -- if one object could cure all ills, life would be so much simpler, after all! But that's fantasy for you. The Territories is a pretty average idea of "the other world", which reminds me of Stephen Lawhead's version in The Paradise War, except less Celtic and more... well, American. The worlds King and Straub build up are rich with detail, all the same. The idea of Twinners and the importance of single-selved beings within the story is interesting, and I enjoyed the Jack/Jason thing that spanned throughout.

The characters are lovely. The bad guys are all pretty obvious and twisted, it's true, but the sympathetic characters -- particularly, for me, Wolf and Richard -- are amazing. My definition of amazing tends to be "not perfect, maybe even kind of irritating at times, but somehow I love them so much anyway". Which is the same for both Wolf and Richard. As for the main character, Jack -- well, he fits the bill, too. The only problem with him was that I could never quite picture a boy of his age acting in the way he does. I kept imagining him as older than he actually is -- fourteen, fifteen, instead of twelve. But that wasn't a huge problem for me.

I really, really enjoyed this book, overall. I can see flaws in it, and in places it turned out to be a little too predictable for me, but all the same, all that aside, I loved it.
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A lot of Stephen King fans I know don't really care for this novel, so I was pleased and surprised when I found myself absolutely blown away. This book is horrifying and dark, but it also gives such a fine sense of ultimate Good that it's hard to resist. There were elements that struck me as being very obviously King or very obviously Straub, but as a whole I felt like it hung together really well. It's got a strong intensity of focus; the point is Jack's journey, and the authors rarely succumb to the temptation to stray from that. This is a great fantasy with unforgettable characters that doesn't flinch away from the horrific.
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