I remember begging my parents to buy The Exorcist for me to read when I was 11 or 12. They did - not really realizing what it was about. I devoured it in the hammock at the cottage in a few days. It's easy not to be frightened in a sunny place! That was the beginning of scary books for me. Dean Koontz quickly found a place on my list of horror authors that I faithfully followed. But my tastes evolved over the years and it's been quite awhile since I've read one of Koontz's books, so I thought I would give his latest book 77 Shadow Street, a shot.
The Pendleton is a luxury apartment building - in its' former life it was the private home of the well to do Pendleton family. The book opens with a great scene - one of the residents hops on the elevator to ride up to his apartment, but when the doors open - definitely not his floor. Other residents of the building start seeing shadows and more - creatures, ghosts and .....
We are introduced to a myriad of characters in the beginning. I enjoyed the many different players and wondered how they would fit into the plot. Koontz has included floor plans of the building in the opening flyleaves. I found myself studying the floor plans as the action progressed. The detail provided added much to bringing the story 'alive' in my imagination.
One of the residents, a retired lawyer, is also a expert amateur historian. As events progress, he realizes that events from 38 years ago are repeating themselves. Something is very, very wrong in their building.
What is frightening? To everyone it's a little something different. I think the shadow seen flitting by out of the corner of your eye or the television watching you is much more terrifying than blatantly grotesque 'creatures'. Subtlety works better for me.
Koontz cuts in and out with short narratives from a being who calls himself The One. I found his pronouncements a bit cheesy and found myself skimming over them.
The second half of the book moves much more quickly and caught my interest more when the residents start taking action. Although there is a large cast of characters, for me, it is the two children who stand out the most. Koontz has done a fantastic job with young Winny, brave beyond his years. I found myself rooting for him time and time again.
In the second half of the book Koontz also throws a spanner into what I had initially taken as a run of the mill horror book. He has presented an interesting background and reason for the happenings in the Pendleton that I didn't see coming.
My only complaint is some of the overly long (and a wee bit boring) rhetoric from some of the characters. More action, more thrills, more spookiness, less thought provoking diatribes on post humanism.
Publishers have mounted a pretty spectacular website for the book. You can enter The Pendleton and explore the various apartments.
on March 21, 2012
First things first: this isn't a haunted house story. The characters are trapped in a weird time paradox that's caused by electromagnetic activity or something.
How do we know this? Well, the characters don't get to find out for themselves. The reader is straight up told by the narrator, and that's the main problem with this book. There is way too much telling and not enough showing. There are long stretches in the book without any dialogue. In addition, there are places where Koontz gets on his soapbox and rants (chapter 28 is probably the worst of these).
Incidentally, Koontz goes for the gross here. The book may be a spiritual successor to "The Taking" in that it too contains lots of disgusting creatures, mushrooms, and fungi.
on August 19, 2013
As a Dean Koontz fan it pains me to tell readers not to purchase this title. (If you insist on torturing yourself with this book please borrow it from the library as I did.) Though Dean Koontz has written many great books, this is a dud, along with his last two Frankenstein books.
The concept was good, a house built on a fault in the space time continuum. I don't normally read books twice but I did read Koontz's book Lightning twice, so I was excited by the concept, especially after finishing Odd Apocalypse, which is also about time travel. Unfortunately for 77 Shadow Street, this concept was lost among a sea of bland characters with no real hero in this story to pull these people together in their trip into a dangerous post-apocalyptic world. There was never enough time to attach myself to a single character.
If you like a story about people standing around and not really doing much and cyborgs who malfunction at the penultimate time allowing these bland, uninteresting characters to travel back in time safely, then this is the book for you.
As for me, I am looking for another suspense author to read because this horrible book has put me off Dean Koontz until the next Odd Thomas book is released.
I wanted to find a Koontz book I could enjoy again, and a classic haunted house tale - with no room for one of those simplistic villains - seemed like a perfect choice.
This actually started off extraordinarily well, raising my hopes for a return to form. It was mysterious and creepy, full of WTF moments, and had an intriguing ghost story at its heart. The Pendleton was a fantastic setting, and its horrific history was perfect background for a contemporary ghost story. The plummeting elevator? Awesome. The blood-red water and sinuous shapes in the basement pool? Fantastic. The gigantic bug-like creatures seen only in shadow? Stunning.
Except, of course, that's not what this is. Koontz teases us for a long time, and really lays the supernatural evidence on thick, but eventually devolves into a messy sci-fi/horror mash-up involving time travel, alternate timelines, and dangerous experiments. I was disappointed, and came to resent the sci-fi intrusions, but was still willing to see where it went.
Unfortunately, the characters bring the story crashing down. For one, there are just too many of them for us to really be able to focus and care about their fates. The best of them are damaged, and the worst of them are those cartoon evil-doers who deserve their fate. There are no sainted doggies here, but two special needs kids who you just know are going to be pivotal. What began as a fascinating ghost story with some real narrative flair turned into a soap opera of character studies. We go from room to room in the Pendleton, from character to character, and basically wait for something to happen. I gave up somewhere in the second half when I looked back at the past 150 pages and realized a few characters made it down the stairs. Seriously, that was the sum total of plot development. All momentum was lost, and I just couldn't compel myself to continue.
I hate to say it, but I think I may be done trying to reconnect with my glory years. There are some authors who grow and evolve alongside you, and others who choose to take their development down a different path. Koontz and I, we're clearly on different paths, and I no longer see a crossroads ahead.
As a fan of the author, I was delighted to hear that he had written a new book. As I eagerly began reading it, delight turned to sheer disappointment. While it is a haunted house story, a genre that I normally enjoy, the stilted prose, the awkward, ponderous sentence construction, and one dimensional characters all serve to make this a book simply not worth reading. Moreover, the author's ultra conservative, right wing views come barreling out at the reader throughout the book.
As I plodded through this book, a total exercise in patience, I wondered whether it would ever end. It was a total slog. Bored out of my mind, I could only find complete satisfaction in the thought that I finally made it to the end of this totally worthless book. If, however, one is a believer in intelligent design and thinks global warming is some kind of government conspiracy, perhaps one might get some enjoyment from this total piece of dross. If you are not, save your time and money, as this book really stinks!
on October 25, 2013
Item shipped promptly and was well packaged.
Although an unconditional fan of Dean Koontz for numerous years, I simply could not keep on reading this book and put it aside after a few chapters. It simply does not take flight. It's ponderous, as if the author has suffered a breakdown of inspiration and has started to "think" his books. The last three I bought from Koontz suffer the same flaws.
I should add that I own at least fifteen books by D. Koontz and several of them I have read many times for the sheer pleasure of retrieving the particular magic of the story and its unfoldment, as well as unforgetagle descriptions, metaphors, superb expresssions and sentences.
But not this time.
on September 24, 2015
Wish I could give this book minus stars! Too many characters, no real protagonist to root for. A heavy handed re-imagining of Stephen King's "The Mist", with multiple pages of right-wing bucket thumping added for purposes only Koontz could answer for. I used to love Koontz, but he's lost is way with this one. I don't like political views spewed at me, right OR left wing. Cantcha just TELL the story for heaven's sake? I got to the right-wing diatribe against Renata Dime and quit. She was a monster for sure. no doubt. But Dean Koonts paints her as a monster not for what she did to her children...for her political stand. No one could miss Koontz's politics thickly slathered over this so-called novel. It slops out over the edges of the page like gobs of grotty, grey and bulbous intestinal...oh...sorry.
Aside from the politics, there are too many characters! There's no one to root for...okay, in real life there usually isn't, but this is a novel, read for purposes of adventure, imagination, good guys vs bad guys, ENTERTAINMENT. And each character appears for a while, sees their particular monster, which is described over pages and pages. Then, each character philosophizes about his or her particular monster, how it shows the rottenness of humankind, how it reflects within his or her own life story...pages and pages of empty philosophy, egregious descriptive metaphors that go on for whole paragraphs. The only character that was mildly interesting was the lawyer, whose name escapes me. That about says it all.
I say don't waste your dime or your time on this one.
on October 25, 2012
I've read every single one of Dean Koontz's books. No joke! Of course not all are great, some are absolutely superb!!! 77 Shadow Street is horrible. I hate to say that because I think Dean Koontz can do no wrong when it comes to writing an entertaining, and sometimes moving novel. This is not one of them. In fact it's probably one of the worst books I've read in a long time, by any author. I don't care what happens to any of the characters, and the wrting itself...well I feel like Mr. Koontz kept a Dictionary and Thesaurus beside his computer as he was composing this novel. Way, way too flowery...the descriptions are just over the top for everything. I hate everything I've read so far but I never put a book down. One, because I paid for it, and two because sometimes, just sometimes there's a surprise 3/4's of the way through. I'm on page 362 of 552...I'm not holding out much hope, and at this point am just flying through it wanting it to be done.
This review makes me sad because I am such a huge Dean Koontz fan. Like other reviewers though I was excited for an old fashioned ghost story and this is not even close. If you're a die-hard you'll read it because you won't trust bad reviews, but please please try to find it at a library or used book store. Don't spend your hard earned cash on this one.
on April 17, 2012
Without argument, Koontz provides the component parts of what may have been a superior horror mystery. The problem is he throws too many pieces together with the end result being the novel does not hold together. The feints and misdirects only serve to clog up the works more. The book seems written by committee given how much goes on. Still I enjoy ghostly tales that draw from history and The Pendleton, an 1800's tycoon's home, provides a rich backdrop. So there are some individual thrills that provide spurts of enjoyment and pace but overall the story breaks down due to its own weight. And it seemed very King-esque with its noble team of citizens banding together to vanquish evil. Oh, what might have been.
on February 4, 2014
I read this book till the half way point, I kept waiting for more but I just could not get into it, it bored me so much I would only get a page or two in. A lady from work wanted to read it so I took it in and said I never finished it but maybe you will like it. When she was done she said it never did get any better but for me to go read the mini novel in the back, she said it was really good but not to bother with the main book. I did go back and read the short story at the back and she was correct I really enjoyed that but don't waste your time on the main book.