I’ve heard the extremely prolific Dean Koontz, author of roughly 100 works (plenty of which were number one sellers) of fiction, bashed to hell and back over the last few years. I’ve heard him labeled a hack, lazy, a poor man’s Stephen King, a dime-shelf writer. You name it, I’ve heard it, and to be completely honest I’m mystified by this strange and seemingly odious stigma (it’s not deserved I cry!) that looms over Koontz’s name. For my buck, Dean is one of the most balanced authors in the business.
The man does his research, and checks his facts. The man has built a diverse body of work that covers an expansive thematic landscape. He works endlessly to bring terror to readers sans any significant break. He’s capable of being extremely detailed, without running far too long in the tooth, and when he wants to, he can throw some seriously malicious bombs in your face. He’s not only a veteran of his craft, but he’s a very seasoned and refined veteran of his craft.
I can understand the constant comparisons to King. In fact, as a child I often considered him a B-rated King myself. That wasn’t because his fiction was bad, it was because I was wholly consumed by King’s writing and anything else put in front of me was, in my head, just an impostor; a pretender, a wannabe who yearned to simply nip at the heels of Kings unrivalled talent. As I grew, my narrow-mindedness widened and I realized there is a wealth of fetching authors out there, and Dean Koontz is certainly one of the few who accompany Stephen King in his position of supremacy.
I fear many have cast disregard in Koontz’s direction due to a bad reading experience. Perhaps you picked up the first book of Koontz’s ongoing Frankenstein tale and found it to be simply bland. Maybe a single experience is enough to completely solidify a negative thought process when approaching one of the man’s novels. I know many of such characteristic, and at one point in life I was a fairly fickle fellow myself. But don’t do Koontz that kind of injustice: after nearly 45 years in the business, he’s earned a second chance.
To save you a little time in fact, I’ll even toss you a few recommendations that worked wonders to pull me to the far side of the darkest rivers of the heart. The Funhouse was an amazing read that manifested a tangible sense of terrific 1980’s grindhouse films. The Servants of Twilight is a profoundly unsettling piece of work that should stab at the heart of any parent and keep readers on the edge of their seat. Twilight Eyes makes a successful run through the corridors of the supernatural, Watchers boasts a gnarly monster who anchors a well-crafted tale. Night Chills is remarkably chilling, The Taken is a jarring tale of invasion, which feels as though it was written to serve as a direct spinoff off Phantoms, Dean’s true masterpiece.
Dean’s produced some shockers. He doesn’t fear the paranormal, he doesn’t fear the monsters, he doesn’t fear electronic territory; he doesn’t fear the plausible nature of the demented man. He’s never limited himself to a single niche of horror. This is one damn versatile author, who may not hit a homerun every time he steps to bat, but he’s got a track record that shines more often than not. It’s time the masses recognized an elite talent.
If you’re completely foreign to Dean’s work, change that immediately. If you’ve given him a go, and found him not to be of your liking I can only reiterate, and implore you to take one more walk through the intricate passages of this man’s imagination!
For a few other killer Koontz books, look into the following: