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4.6 out of 5 stars
Phantoms
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2002
I bought Phantoms years ago (When the movie came out), and I've just gotten around to reading it now...I'm glad I waited.
In the years since Phantoms was released theatrically, I've read a few Koontz books, and haven't really cared for any of them. I thought Phantoms would be more my cup of tea, but......
Phantoms tells the story of Snowfield, California, a small ski town that becomes a small GHOST town overnight. Every single man, woman, & child either vanishes without a trace, or dies mysteriously. The town Doctor and her younger sister were away when the disaster struck, and now they find themselves, along with the local Sheriff and his men, trapped by the evil creature behind the slaughter.
All of this sounds pretty good. The problem is that Koontz mercilessly pads the story; It takes almost 300 pages to get to the Monster. After, say....200 pages of people wandering around from house to house finding dead bodies, I had already gotten the point. The stereotypical "Monster Expert" is by far the most interesting character, and he doesn't get into the town until around page 350. And after slogging through all of that, Koontz has the nerve to pop a new sub-plot into the book with a mere 20 pages left!! Enough, already! Some of the dialogue the characters spout is just ridiculous...Try saying some of it out loud for a good laugh.
On the plus side, the dialogue between "The Ancient Enemy" and the scientists, conducted via computer, was absolutely chilling; very scary stuff...too bad it's only 10 pages out of 428....Phantoms would have made a GREAT novella or short story; as it is, it seems like Koontz gets paid by the word. And Dean- could you get a new photo taken???
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2007
I first read this a couple years ago and decided to read it again. I was quickly reminded why I loved it so much the first time. Koontz spins a frightening tale about two sisters Jenny and Lisa who return to Jenny's small town home, to find many people missing and many people dead. I don't want to ruin the point of the book by telling you what actually happens but just to say that it worth your time to read it. The book is fast paced, scary and visceral. The good thing is that Koontz still has the ability to write interesting characters and knows the jargon when it comes to the medical and scientific areas. Read this book if your a fan or sci-fi and horror, it's the perfect mix of both.
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on July 17, 2014
After putting off Koontz for seven years or so I was recommended this novel by a lot of friends who said it was prize-worthy. It's not that I dont like Koontz, its just that I found him to be sort of preachy and I knew that he writes about hope and faith and I knew his characters would come out of the story just fine. Phantoms was written in 1983 and it seems to be a whole different kind of story. I actually found it chilling at times, particularly scenes where certain characters would sense that they were being watched or followed in this isolated setting. A lot of research went into this book and ranged from information on science to mass disappearances. I especially liked a few of the characters, particularly Timothy Flyte. If you are going to start off with a Koontz book start with Phantoms and proceed to read some of his earlier (and best IMO) works. Other Koontz books I read and enjoyed were Watchers and Life Expectancy, which I highly recommend to thriller seekers. Phantoms is up there in terms of grittiness, horror, and mystery. I sped through this one in a few days and enjoyed the heck out of it. 4 stars!
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on January 14, 2013
A vibrant ski-resort town turns nightmarish when the inhabitants mysteriously seem to have vanished.
Though some are found, they are not found in the best of shape. Someone, or something lurks in the shadows of the town and come nightfall, when shadows take over, you'd wish you were as far from the beautiful town of Snowfield as possible.

This is the first Koontz novel Ive read in over 2 years.
He was the first author I ever read, when I found an interest in reading in early 2006.
The last I read was 'The Good Guy' in 2010, I got 100 pages in, then put it down. It was awful (In my opinion) was going no where. I hated it.
I moved onto the Stephen King DARK TOWER novels, a Harpo Marx biography, The Hobbit, Terry Pratchett and Bram Stokers classic DRACULA.

So like I said, after 2 years, I returned to my reading roots, with Koontz. And wow. What a great read and return to one of my favorite authors.
As a teenager I used to play alot of the Playstation games, SILENT HILL. I originally came across this book as someone on a forum mentioned how the game borrows a great deal from this book, and yes, as a fan of the games, I can definitely see that now.
Foggy mountain town. Roaring sirens. Weird sounds. That constant feeling that something is hiding around every corner. In every shadow. Waiting for the opportune moment to pounce.

This book kept me wondering from the start, right to the very end.
The characters were well written and believable. The plot was solid. It kept me well engaged and wanting to read on.
And all in all. It was a good read. I really enjoyed it. A great start to the year of 2013!
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I know, I already had reviewed this book; looking back at my old review (the "Most Helpful Review" of this book), I decided to update it a bit. Even now, 4 years after reading that book, I look back and get chills...that was a really scary book! Here's the updated review:
I read this during the summer of 1999, and holy s**t (censors...grr...) I was scared by it! This book is vintage Koontz. This is the book that made me love his writings (though I've not read anything for a couple of years now--I've discovered the super writing of F. PAUL WILSON!!). The character analysis is amazingly well done, and the amount of atmosphere that gets created while you read this makes you feel like you're really there. The main characters (Jenny & Lisa Paige, and Bryce Hammond) were, no, *are* unforgettable, the actual scenes where something scary happens are scary as hell (but thankfully, not gory...gore does not mean scary anymore!), and... Well, I suppose I shouldn't mention anything more. It is so scary, though, because this book, among others (THE KEEP, by F. Paul Wilson; THE RELIC, RELIQUARY, and THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, all by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, to name a few), makes you scared of the dark (believe me--I was scared of the dark for months after reading these), because so many scenes take place in the dark. Oops, I've said too much already. Just read this book and find out for yourself just what *REAL* horror can do. Also recommended by Mr. Koontz: WHISPERS, WATCHERS, and DARKFALL.
...and leave the lights on; not that they'll save you at all...
...goodnight.
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on May 26, 2003
I avoided Dean Koontz like the plague since the day some years ago when I attempted to read his novel "Mr. Murder." I found that book so formulaic and tedious that I swore never to read another of his books. I did not even finish "Mr. Murder," a rarity for me because I always strive to finish any book I pick up. When I recently decided to cast my nets a little wider into the vast seas of the horror genre, I looked for something by Koontz that other readers praised. Repeatedly, I found that his book "Phantoms" came highly recommended by nearly everyone who read it. So, with my sense of smell ready to detect the slightest hint of staleness or boredom, I dove right into this 1983 Koontz novel. My analysis: of the many horror novels I have read over the years, "Phantoms" may be the best of the batch, ranking right up there with Stephen King's "It" as one of my all-time favorites.
The author wastes little time getting right into the story. Dr. Jennifer Paige and her little sister Lisa are driving to Jennifer's house in Snowfield, California. Jenny was never close to her sister due to the rigorous demands of medical school and the headache of establishing a practice in the small town. When their mother dies suddenly, Jenny steps in to take care of Lisa. The poignancy of this action quickly shatters when the two arrive in Snowfield. The town appears to be completely uninhabited. Jenny and Lisa realize that no one is walking around town and that no cars are on the streets. An even ruder shock overwhelms the two women when they find Jennifer's housekeeper dead on the kitchen floor. Even eerier is the condition of the dead body, which has uniform bruising over every inch of the skin. At first Jenny surmises that a disease could be the culprit so the sisters decide to pay a visit to the neighbors, a visit that produces more questions than answers. Jenny and Lisa begin a mad dash through town, finding corpses everywhere they go. In some houses, they discover that the residents have simply disappeared without a trace. It quickly becomes apparent that something sinister has occurred in Snowfield, and it is up to Jennifer and Lisa to find out exactly what happened before they become victims themselves.
Enter the Sheriff's Department of Santa Mira, a town just down the road from Snowfield. Unaware of the unfolding terror in Snowfield, Sheriff Bryce Hammond and his deputy Talbert Whitman are questioning a murder suspect named Kale about a gruesome double homicide. Koontz uses the Kale interrogation to give us some background on Sheriff Hammond, revealing that this cop is a brilliant investigator and a great man in a crisis but that he lost his wife in an automobile accident and his son to a coma. Very quickly, Hammond gets a call from Jenny in Snowfield about the strange events in that doomed town. The sheriff sets off with a handful of deputies, most of whom Koontz describes in sufficient detail for the reader to care about what happens to them, and the book starts moving at breakneck speed. Eventually, an English academic named Timothy Flyte, the media, and a chemical weapons team from the federal government become involved in the unfolding events in Snowfield. Because whatever stalked the town is still very much present, as those unlucky enough to remain in Snowfield realize. The author masterfully blends these disparate elements together into a tale that is both suspenseful and horrific.
The first part of the novel works best, as Jennifer, Lisa, and the Santa Mira deputies slowly experience the horrors raging through Snowfield. Each scene of the book ratchets up the horror by revealing a little more information than the previous scene, which creates a growing sense of unease in the reader. The back-story involving Flyte and the "Ancient Enemy" explains the horrific incidents in Snowfield and is a welcome addition to the tale. The end of the story loses some of the excitement of the beginning, as once we understand what these people are up against the suspense dies down appreciably. This in no way should prevent you from seeking this story out, since the tale is still great fun.
Koontz wrote an afterword in 2001 about his opinions on "Phantoms." He avers that while he enjoyed writing the novel, he wished he never wrote it because it classified him as a horror writer when he prefers to see himself as a suspense author. The author mentions that "Phantoms" has never gone out of print since its 1983 release and has sold roughly six million copies. I think most authors could care less what label stuck to them if they could have that many sales! Regardless of Koontz's attitude towards his story, this is an excellent tale and a tremendous contribution to the horror genre.
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on May 5, 2003
The Phantoms, by Dean Koontz, is a magnificent novel. It keeps the reader on the edge of his seat from beginning to end. Koontz keeps his readers in a constant state of quandary, always wondering what will happen next. He blends suspense and terror in the perfect way, keeping readers frightened, yet wanting more.
It starts with Jenny Paige, a local doctor from Snowfield, California, who brings her 14-year-old sister, Lisa, home to live with her. When they get back to town, they find a horrific surprise. The entire population of the town of Snowfield is either dead or missing, including all the animals. The town seemed to be under the control of someone, or something, too. They managed to call the Santa Mira police who set up roadblocks and sent in a few officers. At first, they believed that it was a biological attack that killed all of Snowfield. Jenny and the police officers called in a chemical and biological warfare unit to check the situation out. Unfortunately, they found no traces of any biological weaponry or infections, leaving the question of how everyone died in an even more mysterious state. As they investigated the matter, the group members began to disappear, or die, one by one. By now, more than half of the team is gone, and there is nowhere to hide. It has no longer become a search for a killer, but a fight to live and escape from the "phantoms" in Snowfield.
This book is a must read for all thrill lovers. It will keep the reader engaged for hours on end, just to find out what happened to the people of Snowfield.
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on April 27, 2003
I'm not a fiction reader. I never read fiction, always read non-fiction. This book is my exception. I picked it up at a local grocery store just to help the time pass by at work. I began reading it there, and finished it in about a week.
The entire book is scary! Its so "on the edge of your seat" 100% of the time. The book jumps back and forth between two different stories that merge, but it never gets dull. Both stories have their own line to follow until they merge. Its a great book to read if you need that "can't put the book down" mentality. Dean mentions in the afterword that he hated the fact that he wrote this book, I wish he didn't. It was a great book! So much more than I thought could come out of a book. It isn't to the point of making you afraid to go outside at night, because the majority of the book happens during the day (a whole new perspective that most authors don't take advantage (or succeed with, for that matter) of). Great book, haven't seen the movie. I hear that will ruin it, so I'll stick to never seeing the movie.
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on October 28, 2002
The book Phantoms , by Dean Koontz is nonfiction , and was written in 1983.It's about two sisters who are comming home, and they find out something has gone horribly wronge. Everyone is eather dead or missing.
In the book Phantoms ,by Dean Koontz ,the two main characters are sisters; jenny and lisa paige. When jenny was 18 she left home to go to medical school, she had an internship at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in New York. Jenny was always too over worked , and too far from home to visit as often as she should have. Since lisa was 2 she had only lived with her mother so, she became especialy close with her mother. Now when lisa was 14 ,and jenny was 31 ,they're mother had died.Lisa went off to live with her sister jenny. Though they were sisters , they were almost completely strangers. Both lisa and jenny wanted to becoms close ,little did they know they would become deathfully close.
In the book Phantoms, sisters jenny and lisa paige were comming home, to snowfield. They found the town abandoned ,and silent like a graveyard. When they got to jenny's home they found her house keeper on the floor dead ,the swollen body still warm. The phone line was dead. Jenny and lisa went next door hopeing to use the phone. They kocked , no one was home. They went inside , the dinner was set at the table still warm. Not a soul in sight. The phone was dead as well, but their was an erie feeling about it. Jenny and lisa searched the town, as far as they could tall 150 were dead and 350 were missing. They got to the sherifs office, he was dead too. his body was on the ground swollen as well, his gun was on the ground next to him. Three rounds were shot , the shells on the ground still warm but on bullet holes. Jenny picked up the phone dead aswell. Both jenny and lisa walked to another one of jennys friends house. No one was home she, picked up the phone there was a dial tone jenny called the police in Santa Mira , they would come immediately. Jenny and lisa walked back to the sherifs office, and waited. The sun had set and thir was a chill in the air.They waited for about an hour and a half untill three police cars pulled up ,and the men got out . Jenny told the men what was happning in snowfield. Jenny, lisa , and the poliemen searched the town again. They had no ideas on what could have happned, at first they thought maybe a mad man killed all of these people, no it happned in such a short time and their was too many people. Maybe an army of man men? no it was too organized . maybe poisinous toxins ,maybe. Or maybe worse ?
In the book Phantoms by Dean Koontz , the author used many litterary elements . One element is characterization, when Dean Koontz discribes the characters in directly by discribing the characters features. The author uses mood and sets up the atmosphere,and the feeling you get wher you read the book; You feel like your in the book on the cold stone cobble roads.
I think the book phantoms by Dean koontzis a great book , the whole book is mysterous.It keeps you guessing, wondering, thinking. I would recomend this book to any one who likes to read.
The book phantoms by Dean Koontz, is a great book.It's about two sisters who come home to snowfield. They diacover something has gonr horribly wronge every one is eather dead or missing.
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on September 23, 2002
Much that puzzled me about this over-the-top Sci-Fi horror story made a lot more sense when I read Dean Koontz's Afterward. (No, it's guaranteed not to "spoil" anything.) "Phantoms" was Koontz's sophomore book after the wide success of "Whispers." Acceding to his publisher's demands and much against his judgment, he wrote the "horror" story they wanted and forever after was known as a "horror" writer. This is what he feared, and it has been a continual thorn in his side ever since. I had the feeling throughout the book that Koontz was saying "You want a horror story? I'll give you the Mother of Horror Stories!"
"Phantoms" takes the premise of the empty town where it appears everyone has vanished suddenly into thin air and runs with it. A doctor, her young sister and a band of local policemen try to solve the mystery. They discover a few bodies that have died most mysteriously, hear strange voices and noises, and realize they are being watched and are likely to be attacked -- but by what? Mr. Koontz pulls out all the stops in the creep and gore department and sets up good look-over-your-shoulder-fearfully tension. The dialogue is very bad, and he did better with the characterizations of the supporting cast than he did with the principals, but for the most part they are believable.
"Phantoms" is overlong; and because of it, the tension ebbs at times. The babykiller and the biker would never have been missed. Though the reader certainly gets his money's worth in the horror department, I wouldn't call this one of Koontz's better works.
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