This book suffers in much the same way the fourth book does: it is slow. Walks when it needs to run, as if fighting against itself, fitfully roving towards a pay off like a damp-fused firework. King seems to try and find a deeper sense of character in the calla. It is unfortunate that he decided that this is most effectively done by refusing to diagnose anything as too mundane for his readers eyes. If it were properly surrealistic or rendered with a more thoughtful literary hand, things could have been different. As it stands it reads like an adventure movie that takes itself a little too seriously and by proxy goes bonkers with the budget. Had about a third of the book been cut and streamlined it would sing. I think the biggest issue is the sudden switch in what is driving the narrative. We go from searching for the dark tower to faffing about a village while waiting a little too patiently for the bad guys to show up.
There are vampires, robots, and, depending on who in the calla you talk to, wolves aplenty in this book. Father Callahan’s (of Salem’s Lot fame) appearance and story is perfectly formed and entrancing in a way the rest of the novel isn’t. It and a handful of other strings give the novel enough to keep one motivated enough to keep moving forward, especially if they survived the tired fumblings of the last book.
“Your man Jesus seems to me a bit of a son of a bitch when it comes to women,´Roland said. ´Was He ever married?´
The corners of Callahan’s mouth quirked. ´No´ he said, ´but His girlfriend was a whore.´
´Well,´ Roland said, ´that’s a start.´” ― Stephen King, Wolves of the Calla