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Why is Dean Koontz Loathed in Such Heinous Fashion?

Dean Koontz

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:




Mr. Murder

Winter Moon


About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

75 Comments on Why is Dean Koontz Loathed in Such Heinous Fashion?

  1. It’s an interesting question because yes, SO many people read him and SO many horror fans dislike him. My wife quite liked the first ”Odd” book, but I’d long since given up on him. Still, I read the ”Frankenstein” trilogy and it reminded me what I didn’t love. The first book has big interesting ideas and some cool story elements, the second book feels like a contractual obligation to pad the series into three, and the third book is half that, then a really interesting ending that matches the first book. I remember there being some really fascinating mutant assassin character introduced, well-described, etc., who slinks around and you think it’s going to play an integral part in the story – then it’s just killed for no reason and that part is abandoned. Instead, we get the silly dwarf character that just felt like tin-eared comic relief. It just felt endlessly padded. But then, I remember reading ”Mr. Murder” and thinking the same thing. He repeats the same ”Star Trek” joke a few times, it just kind of rolls along, etc., but has a solid enough ending. For me, it feels like Koontz can come up with a great plot and match it to a great ending, but can\’t keep the engine humming all the way through to the end of a full-length novel. You almost wonder if Koontz had been around in the forties or fifties banging out short stories, would he be regarded differently. That said, I will read the titles you have listed as I have wondered if I\’ve just missed the boat somehow. A long, roundabout way of saying, THANKS FOR SIFTING THROUGH ALL THE TITLES TO PRODUCE THIS LIST!


    • You are obviously not well versed in his books, the Frankenstein “trilogy” is actually five books. That kind of thing makes me wonder if you read any or you are just regurgitating something you heard applied to his other books.


      • I love the fact that this debate never actually ends. It speaks volumes to Koontz’s work. VERY obvious that for every person out there that isn’t a fan, there are a few who are. No matter how you slice it, Koontz has been the number two genre novelist for a great number of years now. Gotta respect that!


  2. I can’t agree with you more in regards to Odd and Frankenstein. Two lines that just did not work for me, for numerous reasons. His gold sits in his vault, where his earlier works truly shine. I did however enjoy 77 Shadow Street to be rather enjoyable. He’s got his misses, but I’m confident in saying you’ll find some serious homeruns tucked in his resume as well. I’d recommend starting with Phantoms, Night Chills and Watchers (which has its faults but still makes for a fun read). They may reinstate your belief. 🙂


  3. Dean Koontz is an interesting writer for me. I remain fond and loyal, but I don’t like all of his books. I don’t look to him as a writer I can count on, and sometimes I find his stuff absurd — as in the recent book when I had young children speaking like 40-year-old college professors. (I was gratified when a friend said the same, not knowing I felt that way.)

    I think the poor man’s King label is because King really is a more literary, deeper — and, yes, darker — writer. I don’t find Koontz complex in the way that I do with King. There are some good ideas there, but they’re almost always simply expressed.

    I think of Koontz as more optimistic, and more apt to preach about the power of love — and a dog — scaring away the baddies. King can turn on you in a way that Koontz will not, and that makes King more interesting overall.


    • I love your “and a dog” comment lol – VERY true! And you’re definitely right about the overall direction each guy leads readers. King loves to stick it to you in the final portions of his work, while Koontz definitely likes to tidy things up and give you the “it’s all happy and resolved” conclusion. Some nice thoughts Michelle!


  4. Sebastian Saint Anders // September 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm // Reply

    Yeah, the golden retrievers, jeeze. I think it’s weird that anyone who likes the genre would bash Koontz. He’s a completely different kind of writer than Big Steve. King likes to suck you into normal New England life (good or bad) and start dosing you with the weird scariness. Koontz assumes huge conceptual flights of weird scariness, and leads you to believe in them. King likes simple things gone terribly wrong–scary house attracts vampire, really big dog goes rabid, haunted car, Indan burial ground revives the dead–whereas Koontz likes wildly outre concepts–a lot of people are actually evil greebly-meeblies but only I can see them and I have to kill them, this enormous squishy thing living under the city may actually be Satan, large-scale organizations plot an evil course for humanity by messing with gifted individuals. In King, the town’s going to hell and evil might spread after he kills off all the characters. In Koontz, the world has gone to hell already, and a few people might make a difference with their one success. So why would you criticize a really talented writer working in a genre you like for writing in a genre someone else writes in? It’s like saying King is a second-rate Matheson, or a wanna be Robert Block. I can’t speak to Koontz’ recent series, but quit hatin’ a guy who actually contributes to the legitimacy of the genre. Go pick on vampire romance crap or mind-numbing zombie apocalypse nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d have to say that I have read more than a dozen of Koontz’s novels and would not pass up an opportunity to pick up the next title that interests me – liking haunted house stories and considering your review, that may be 77 Shadow Street (adding it to my list now). However, while I do find his novels thoroughly enjoyable while I’m reading them, I seem to forget the characters and stories much quicker than novels by his contemporaries. I can still completely remember charcters from many of King’s books, like I knew them, like they were my real friends. Don’t mean to turn this into King vs. Koontz but they are the two biggest selling horror authors.


    • You know you’re right – I’ll admit there’s something about Koontz’s characters that doesn’t typically STICK to you. Off the top of my head, disregarding his ongoing Frankenstein/Odd Thomas series’, I really can’t think of any characters that have survived in my mind. Whereas King certainly has produced some amazing personalities: I will ALWAYS remember and cherish key players like Ben Mears and Arnie Cunningham.


      • Chyna (Koontz/Intensity) is a brilliant character from an excellent book. She has stuck with me. I’ve long felt that King is the ultimate story teller, but Koontz crafts better prose. All of this is personal taste and opinion, of course. But I really do love Koontz’s prose.


      • Pomy Collingwood // December 5, 2015 at 2:13 pm //

        I’m a bookworm, and had / hey, still havin’ / my dose of Koontz books. I think he’s a hit & miss. I look forward to look up a new title, read the story’s teaser on the book, and decide if I wanna read it from him. Sometimes he really gets weird. Ignoring bits and pieces in a sequence of events and later the story or character relies on that missing thing. Sometimes he’s really sharp and tells a story how it is! After not checking his books for many years I’m reading The Door To December now. We’ll see…

        Pomy Collingwood


  6. Koontz just seems down right contrived to me. I read once (forgive me I don’t have the link but I’m sure you guys can find on the web) that he makes every page, and this coming from a direct quote, perfect before he moves on. I think what he stories lack is spontaneity. He strikes me as a writer who outlines the crap out of his work and it comes off rigid. With that being said King’s rather flexible works and their strange turns (“It” etc..) should be accounted for by his no outline approach. With that being said I do find King’s approach tiring after a time because his endings always seem labored.


  7. I’ve read every book Stephen King has written, and at least one quarter of Dean Koontz’s books. Neither of them are exactly prime examples of virtuosic use of the English language; for that, I refer you to Clive Barker, especially “Imagica,” “Weaveworld,” and “The Great and Secret Show.” He makes Stephen King seem like Dr. Seuss. Having said all of that, I have a great deal of respect for Stephen King. He writes in a style that everyone can read regardless of their vocabulary level, yet creates characters, situations, stories, and locations vividly without wasting words. Some of his works are, indeed, masterworks of the genre, although i find myself enjoying his earlier ones more than a lot of his most recent offerings. Relax, Constant Reader… I’ll get to Dean Koontz in a bit… . “The Stand,” “The Tommyknockers,” “Insomnia,” and, more recently, “Under the Dome,” were all great. I was particularly relieved to read “Under the Dome,” because I’d almost given up on King after “Cell,” which was one of the worst examples of puking out crap for money I’ve ever forced myself to complete. Sorry, Steve… I usually love ya, baby.

    Now, to Dean Koontz. Remember what I said about Steve never wasting words? Dean Koontz writes as if his entire goal is to impress you with his knowledge. His constant use of specific nomenclature for flora is ridiculous; only gardening experts would know what half of them are. Why not describe how the plant affects or helps set the scene, rather than just dumping a latin name on us to show us how much smarter Dean is than us? Hint… Dean, you’re NOT smarter. A smart person is more interested in the qualities, not the name. What about the almost non-stop use of 8th-grade-writing-assignment simile? Dean writes similes as a vermiculite-encrusted Hydrangea petiolaris insinuates itself into territory fiercely defended by neighboring hostile Akebia. Bleeecchhhh. Wait.. let’s not forget his other junior-high-school method of just describing ad nauseum what a character is thinking rather than leaving some deduction up to the reader based on the character’s actions. Writing in that manner is such a “cop-out,” and insulting to the reader. King is, appropriately enough, the “King” of not wasting words. Koontz is his alter ego… stilted description, juvenile simile, and page after page of words that add nothing to the story other than to try and convince the reader that Koontz is something other than a hack writer who can and DOES create interesting story lines and situations. He is NOT without merit as a storyteller; I just wish he hired actual writers to tell them.

    Does anyone have any insight into his no longer ascribing co-author status to the folks who were originally credited as co-authors on the first three Frankenstein books in the five-book trilogy? (?@!?!?). Dean, to his credit, is up front in one of the books’ Foreword about his inability to “not play well with others.” I am not surprised. How do you take full credit for a book that someone else helped you write? That action, too, speaks volumes about Mr. Koontz.

    I’ll probably keep reading his stuff; as I’ve stated, many of his stories are interesting and thought-provoking. I better sign off now; I have to go hydrate my Chamaedorea oblongata as an ipecac-enriched digestive organ emanates gushing torrents of recently savored scraps towards a porcelain final resting place.


    • Thank you for this. Spot on. I gave up on Koontz long ago because he simply isn’t a very good writer. You forgot how absolutely appalling his dialogue is too. His plots are ok, and would probably make half way decent movies, not that I’ve ever watched one (I assume someone, somewhere has made one). Basically, anybody who knows anything about the craft of writing understands how poor Koontz’ work is. But heck, he’s harmless enough, I won’t bother with him ever again, but good luck to him.


  8. toddkeisling // May 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    I’m going to be honest here, Matt: I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Koontz. Some of his work is well done (in my opinion). Look no further than Phantoms, Tick-Tock (which was a big influence on me as a young writer), Intensity, Dark Rivers of the Heart, The Husband, Strange Highways.

    Others, however, either bored me to tears or were just shoddily written or constructed (The Good Guy, By the Light of the Moon, From the Corner of His Eye, The Taking). I used to look forward to the latest Koontz novel, but these days I’m far more cynical about his output. I often wonder, “Did Dean phone this one in?” And I hate that, because I loved his earlier work.

    To be fair, though, I can say the same thing about King: Most of his output from the late 90s into the early 00s really rubbed me the wrong way (James Keen will probably say something witty about Cell here–Go on, James, you have my blessing.) It’s only in the last few years that I’ve returned to King’s work, and I hope I can say the same about Koontz someday soon.

    Except for that whole weird dog fetish he has. Creeps me out, man.


    • I’m pretty much in the same boat. Definitely prefer Koontz’s older work to his newer stuff. Same with King, although I admit, thus far, Joyland is pretty damn awesome!


  9. AbitOddThomas // June 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    As I have begun to work my way through the entirety of Koontz work, I’ve become more and more annoyed with him. I’ve read a handful of his books before and enjoyed most of them, but when you read a lot of the books in bulk, you see the pattern; In 2 of 3 books, at least one, or indeed all, of the following elements will occur:
    1. A super smart dog (or random creature)
    2. Divine intervention.
    3. A random psychotic serial killer who does nothing for the plot.
    4. A cast of characters who all (or at least most of them) have suffered tragic loss (of pets, loved ones, limbs, faith)
    5. Evil scientists OR evil politicians.
    6. An extreme abundance of religious imagery, parallels and symbols.
    7. Happy endings no matter what.

    What really annoys me personally, is how he is so ham-fisted about inserting his world-view, religious beliefs and moral. There is little mystery left in his world of work, as he clearly has pointed out that people are bad, animals are good and only God and faith will rescue you. It is a bit like reading C.S. Lewis, it can be entertaining and charming, but you get a bit of preaching on the way. I don’t have a problem with religious writers or religious characters and plots in books – but he is like a dog with a very big bone, and it annoys me. Breathless is so far the worst read for me, I suspect he personally don’t believe in Darwinism. Sorry for ranting. Thank you.


  10. Dean is why I became a writer. He’s a wonderful guy who will take the time to correspond with other authors and lend encouragement (Trixie sent me a signed copy of her first book) and a totally awe inspiring writer. Phantoms is consistently rated by other horror writers as in the top 100 most frightening novels of all time, and to my mind Dark Rivers of the Heart created a totally new genre unknown at the time but now known to publishers as Dean Koontz’ own. I, too, have often wondered at the acrimony. But King gets it as well. The Stand will one day be ranked among the top 10 American novels of the 20th Century, but right now the critics are too busy playing touch and grab with themselves.


    • Phantoms is such an amazing novel. It’s one of the few Koontz novels that I’ve read more than a half dozen times. Just an amazing piece that scares the hell out of me every time i read it. Solid thoughts Chandler!


  11. Henry Roberts // July 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm // Reply

    I’ve read six or seven Koontz novels, and while he has a few truly original and memorable ideas, his writing is terrible. Achingly bad similes, needless description that often includes rhapsodizing about something that has nothing to do with anything, terrifically bad dialogue that reeks of trying to be authentic but fails miserably because of this, his insertion of dogmatic personal opinions that come down like sledgehammers, and what I can only assume is product placement, though it appears in books from long ago. Was he the first? I don’t know if his IQ hovers around 105 or he writes to make sure people with similar IQs can understand and get into his work. Whatever the case, the formula works.

    I learned in the first book to skip the crap, of which there is a lot, but read enough of it to assure myself that something that bad was actually there. The horror in Koontz’s work is the writing, not the story. I had a moment of weakness recently and read a Koontz book that someone had lying around, and realized once again with absolute finality why I swore him off probably twenty years ago.

    “Something wrong?” Julie said as she pulled the Toyota one lane to the left, to pass a big rig hauling Coors. –The Bad Place 1991

    Something is unquestionably wrong.


  12. While Dean Koontz has wrote some brilliant books for example Strangers most of his books are either too far-fetched or involve implausibly named characters and situations. The Good Guy being one of the worst I have read while I enjoyed The Face, Twilight Eyes, Lightning and 77th Shadow Street most of his work is inaccessible or boring and for every hit there is another dud.


  13. Koontz jumped the shark for me at the Odd books also. I rate King higher by this simple litmus test. Adding books to Goodreads realized I couldn’t always recall which of Koontz I’d read. There are a few unique enough to stand out (“The Bad Place”, “Twilight Eyes”, “Intensity”), but most are too similar to distinguish. A smart dog, gifted child and bougainvillea. Have I read that one?

    With King, whether i liked or or not, do at least remember the characters and plot line.



  14. Sour grapes, your table is ready.


  15. Wow. When i was a teen i worshiped King as well. But…nowadays Koontz its just more appealing. Sometimes, however, i just want to shake them both of this overly descriptive necessity they both feel will bring us deeper into the book. It doesn’t work and i feel i have to read the descriptive paragraphs two or more times because I’m from Kansas and i don’t get the northeastern or western descriptions. Its a totally different language to me. The character and situation developments in both writers are great.


  16. Quite a while back, Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing – about the craft of writing. He was able to legitimately do that because, whether you like his subject matter or not, he is a damn good writer. Koontz could have really used that book, long, long ago before he butchered the craft with his overblown similes, appalling, clunky dialogue, ridiculous attempts to impress us with turgid vocabulary and unnecessary adverb after adverb. I haven’t bothered with him in quite a while, because every book I read was like watching a fairly intelligent teenager try their hand at writing for the first time using a nice, formulaic preach fest. King and Koontz – it’s the difference between watching Breaking Bad and watching The Bold and the Beautiful.


    • Your comment, along with Barry’s and Henry’s, made my day! I am currently – oh wait – I was trying to read “Phantom”, the supposingly writer’s masterpiece, for the last 24h. Page 80 or so, I could not help but telling my mate how that guy Koonts was just repeating himself over and over again (ad nauseum, like Barry said), taking the reader by the hand to make sure he got himself understood, how poor the vocabulary was, how wrong and fake the dialogue sounded, how not-so-suspenseful the whole story was. We can’t call it “bad writing”. But this is no way “good writing”. (And for the record, french is my mother tongue, so excuse my “english”).


    • Your idea of what is damn good writing is amusing. King is a hack, the problem is not his subject matter. I liken kinds writing to a cook that buries everything under butter bacon and cheese -if course it’s popular! That doesn’t make it well done


  17. His technical weaknesses aside, in his later writing (with its happy endings and spiritual themes), perhaps Koontz is atoning for his early forays into erotica (which he apparently now finds somewhat shameful)–as well as expressing his genuine and perfectly understandable distaste for and disgust with the nihilism that permeates much popular fiction. His use of proper floral names is perhaps traceable to his faith, and the belief that God obliged Adam to name the things of the earth–as God’s creations, plants and animals have great value, and their names are worthy of learning. Koontz’s Catholicism indeed colors his later writing in many ways, some of which are displeasing to those who do not share that world view. And he likes Golden Retrievers. A lot.

    As for King and On Writing, I must admit that I shook my head and even laughed through much of it, given King’s steadfast refusal in much of his work to follow his own rather excellent advice. While King is unquestionably the stronger writer, much of his work doesn’t hold up well under close scrutiny through the lens of his own professed philosophy of the writing craft–and, in his own way, he can be (and frequently is) every bit as tedious as Koontz.

    In truth, both writers have, at times, turned out good work, and both have churned out their fair shares of crap. In the end, however, it is impossible to deny the success that both men have achieved, and it is quite possible to over-analyze the reasons for that success. It suffices that both can be immensely entertaining; and, after all, isn’t that really the point?


  18. I would tack Velocity onto the end of that list. It isn’t horror, but it a damn good read. Same with Life Expectancy. Jimmy Tock, seven terrible days (when you read it you will know what I mean), humorous anecdotes, mystery, and just a great plot line. The ending of Life Expectancy, whew, lets just say, you will never, ever expect it.


  19. I am mystified too. It’s been my experience that koonrz was the superior writer.

    King, while prolific, is a hack himself. He has a trite and sloppy style that would make any English teacher . Stephen king is the mcdonalds of writing, I’m not surprised every idiot I know prefers him. He doesn’t require any deep thinking or thought in general. He also doesn’t bother with reasons or explanations.

    I think Koontz is just the victim of a combination between bandwagon hate and lazy judgments.


  20. Koontz needs to bring back those wonderful Roy Miro’s etc.The ability to imagine such pure evil and make him kind of likable, is Koontz at his best.His fascination with disabled heroes,and giving even the strangest of creatures humanity is what makes Koontz…….Koontz.That sense of humor even in the most dire of situations.Twain meets Shelly.King ‘s imagination and skill are unquestionable,but on page it gets lost at times.I find his Gold Key stories (Joyland)fantastic,maybe because there not over thought. I referenced Dark rivers of the heart,a must read ,
    Koontz lover or not. True horror, The late great Richard Laymon ,Simon Clarke etc. Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I think part of it is that Dean Koontz isn’t strictly a horror novelist. At least, I don’t see him that way. I’ve seen some great thrillers from him, and even what you might call sci-fi, depending on how you would classify Lightning. I’m 23 and I’ve been reading Dean Koontz’s books since I was a young teenager. My personal favorites so far are Fear Nothing, Seize the Night, By the Light of the Moon, The Taking, The Face, Lightning, Intensity, Twilight Eyes, and False Memory. Dragon Tears was pretty good, too. In fact, Dean Koontz is the reason I hope to get published one day. He’s the reason I discovered my love of writing.


    • Loved Lightning. Watchers and Phantoms were also great reads. Koontz has a lot of other hits, in my opinion, but I don’t like his later work nearly as much as his earlier stuff. Still, I read everything he comes out with.


      • Phantoms is just a stunning book. Has to be my all-time pick for Koontz. The Taking left me wildly disappointed and felt like a blatant attempt to recreate the magic of Phantoms. It felt like such an obvious attempt at cloning Phantoms… it was just a sad read for me.


  22. For me, the problem is that the quality of his writing has changed. When I first read Dean Koontz as a teenager, I was captivated, and I still feel that some of his earlier works are excellent – Shadows, Twilight Eyes, Watchers to name a few as examples. I keep buying his new books and reading them in the hopes of rediscovering that enjoyment, and being more disappointed than I think I’ve ever been by any other writer. To me it feels as though his work in recent years has become formulaic, intolerably smug and opinionated at times, his characters have become incredibly two-dimensional and impossible to relate to or even like. His ‘good guys’ are all implausibly nice, have horribly lame senses of humour and all seem to excel at whatever they do, there are no ‘ordinary’ people, no office workers or ordinary working joes, even his short-order cooks have to be world-class masters of their art. His bad guys reveal a shocking failure to grasp how criminal and deviant mentalities actually work and tend to call to mind stick-figures, they’re so crudely drawn. I always used to feel comparisons to Stephen King were unfair to him, for a variety of reasons, but I’m very aware these days that the major difference lies in this quality of writing – quite simply, if Stephen King has one strength that stands out above all others for me, it’s his ability to create plausible characters who seem to live and breathe, rather than feeling like narrative constructions, and are INTERESTING, whether you like or dislike them they are engaging. I’ve started to get very tired of Dean’s tendency to preach and to sneer at the scientific, rational world-view in ways that remind me of how fundamentalists and supporters of creation theory can dismiss scientific theories that they simply do not understand. And I’m afraid that there’s more to adding detail to a novel than rattling off weapon-specifications and other detail as though it’s being copied and pasted from an online catalogue. I’ll be honest, I’m not a writer myself so I’m not entirely clear on how Dean’s addition of detail fails where other writers manage to do that with more subtlety and flair, but to me that’s how he reads, like he’s writing his books with catalogues handy so he can shove in information that makes him sound like he ‘knows his stuff’. It’s just clumsy, and I’m not coming on here just to bash him for these shortcomings I’m talking about, this is more by way of a lament that someone who used to be a very talented and imaginative story-weaver has BECOME a ‘hack’. It makes me very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ive read both king & koontz & lately they both rate poorly,ive just started the city & I thought ive read this before, maybe its a rewrite under another title? Anyway its crappy & juvenile”’whats with the rockford quotes? Does he own shares in that shoe co????


  24. To be honest, I like both King and Koontz but if I was to count through the titles in my collection of books, all of which I read more than once or even in the titles that I have on Audible which I may listen to several times and go back to the count is biased way towards Koontz as being the author of choice for me.

    The trouble I have with Stephen King is that almost all his books have back references within the story trying to link one book to the other. It is almost as if he tries to use the contents of one story to market at least one other of his books. While the story itself can stand on it’s own I’m always left with that feeling that maybe I should have hunted down and read the book that contains the story that is referenced. Off hand I couldn’t give a precise example but it usually consists of one character talking to the other about something that happened in such and such which turns out to be a reference to another one of his books.

    Unless it is a specific series of books such as the Odd Thomas or the Christopher Snow books I want the story to stand on it’s own and be a story in it’s own right where I want to read another book because I liked the one I have just read and not because I am worried that I could have missed a whole angle because of some hint or reference statement.

    There are few Koontz stories that I could say I didn’t like. The City was one, it just seemed to drag on and on and it didn’t make my imagine build an image of what was happening. Something that many of his stories have always done.

    I wish though that Koontz hadn’t left the 2nd Christopher Snow book floating, many people were disappointed because it never followed on with a third and had a vague end that nobody knew it if the hinted end actually happened or whether to expect another one in the series. When you look at almost all Books or the last in a series there is a definitive end, a true termination of the story for example, Watchers where it showed a follow and termination of the story, similar to other stories which also did the same. Even the City did so.

    In fact I am listening to “The Face” right now while I type this. I couldn’t get into the book and the audiobook was almost stopped as soon as it started but I now can’t stop listening and that is how any good audiobook should be and how it should be when you are reading a paper book or an e-book. Koontz books tend to do this for me, I want to keep on listening or reading and King books that used to be that way just don’t do it. There are not just enough twists in the King books like there are in the Koontz books.


  25. Name one book Dean Koontz has written that compares to 11/22/63, The Stand, or It. I have tried to read Dean Koontz’s books but his heroes are too perfect to be real and his villans are all evil and one-dimensional. He is rigid and preachy. The only character I ever thought was interesting was Odd Thomas but that was over after the second book. On the other hand, King’s characters are flawed and original. I cannot think of two books that are alike, whereas Koontz’s books are a line of forgettable horror stories. I don’t love all of King’s books, but I remember the plot and the characters years after reading them.


    • Read Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher one after the other. It’s almost like reading the same book twice.
      With that said, I still prefer King over Koontz. I wouldn’t ever knock Koontz though, he’s written many novels that I really enjoyed.
      King should maybe think about toning down the politics and criticism of the church though. Reading The Dome is starting to feel like scanning Salon headlines for the last two years.


  26. Wayne C. Rogers // April 5, 2015 at 5:28 pm // Reply

    Pure and simple, it all comes down to taste. Some authors you enjoy reading, while some you don’t. Because you don’t like the books written by a particular individual, doesn’t make that person a bad writer. Others might thoroughly enjoy that man or woman’s pieces of fiction for whatever reason. Individual tastes is all it is. Now, having said that, I still wonder why so many people dislike Dean Koontz so much. This is a writer who is different from King as is every other writer out there. I’m certainly a fan of both authors as i am Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale, Dan Simmons, Ray Garton, Jack Ketchum, John Everson, Bently Little, and a score of other writers in different genres. Certainly there are readers who don’t enjoy the works of Dean Koontz. No writer wins everybody over to their side, or bats a 100 with the publication of each book. But, someone besides me and the few others here, must like the fiction of Dean Koontz because this author consistently hits The New York Times Bestseller List with nearly every book he writes. Whether you like him or not, that fact alone says something very important. To my knowledge, it takes about 50,000 in sales each week for a book to hit the Top 10 Lists. That’s a lot of books being purchased by readers who evidently like the author. The silent majority? I don’t know, but there are definitely others out there who look forward to each new Dean Koontz novel when it’s published. Once again, it all comes down to taste. Because one reader enjoys another author over the one you like doesn’t make them an idiot or a bad person. They simply have different tastes. It’s just that simple. As one person here basically said, “I read novels to be entertained.” That’s why most of us read fiction…to be entertained. So, read authors that entertain you and let others read the ones that don’t.


  27. Chuck Buried // May 12, 2015 at 8:13 pm // Reply

    Alright, I might be a little late to the party but here’s my two cents:

    First, I agree with everyone whose said that King’s characters feel real and organic. They’re memorable and distinct. Koontz shifts between the same handful of stock archetypes in almost every single book. Beautiful but down to earth woman who can handle a firearm but has some trauma from her past, but hell its made her tough as nails (while still having a tender side)? Anyone?

    But also there’s an interesting way they both craft stories. You compare the two and it’s similar but almost inverted?

    King will give us a stock horror archetype, something simple like a haunted house, a vampire stalking a sleepy town, or a scary boogie man that preys on children (It), but then he eventually goes off the rails, there’s no telling where a King story is going to end up. It’s not always GOOD (It goes to some…weird places I wish it didn’t), but it’s always interesting. Koontz by comparison starts us off in some awfully interesting setups. The man, for as much as I’m NOT into him anymore, knows how to hook you immediately. Firefly’s in a windstorm! Weird sand men! A town where everyone’s turning into horrible monsters! Time traveling ex nazi!

    It’s sad when most of these stories then resolve into some of the most mundane stock endings I’ve ever seen. It’s psychic powers that are so enormous in scope that they can change reality, or experiments with genetics/science in general gone horribly wrong, or aliens, or combination of all that. The first time I read Koontz (Cold Fire, not mentioned enough by fans) the entire concept of what was really going on blew me away. Also the sex. I was 13. By the 5th or 6th book where everything going on turns out to be the works of powerful psychic abilities? Not so much. The token steamy sex scene in every book still kept me reading til 16 though.

    I will give exception, Phantoms still holds up really well. And Whispers. The explanation of what’s going on in that book is still super creepy to me to this day. But maan, if there’s one thing I wish Koontz learned from King, it’s that ambiguity is your friend when it comes to horror. You don’t need to explain everything. Actually you don’t have to explain very much at all. Casting a harsh light on your monster allows everyone to see the zipper and how rubbery it looks, and it stops being all that scary. From A Buick 8 is a great example of King working expertly with ambiguity. Might be his best novel in my opinion, although I know a lot of folks chalk it up to “late King weirdness” or even worse “him recycling ideas” based on what I can only assume is not reading the damned book, but assuming it must be like Christine because weird car.


    • Totally agree that From a Buick 8 is one of King’s better efforts. Sure, there are elements that one could nit-pick, but it was nevertheless a “ripping good yarn” (to use King’s words).


  28. I was a big fan, and then he just stopped writing books that I thought were good. I hung on for a long time, maybe a dozen books in a row that I thought were horrible. That’s why I no longer read him and don’t even consider a new book by him. I just felt he started writing very formula books that were poorly written with endings that seemed like afterthoughts to the “gimmick” of each plot. But that’s just me.


    • If anyone could read Insomnia you deserve a medal for perseverance..Nothing but a boring liberal screed on Abortion……Kings been a jack since Fuji.


  29. I love Dean Koontz and I hate him. I agree with one of the commenters above that he’s not reliable – yet – when he pulls off a good one, it’s really good. Most of the comments disliked the Odd Thomas series. I loved the original book but the others just seemed diluted versions of the first. The worst thing about Koontz is many of his yarns – not all – but most, simply end. The good guy triumphs because of some inner good (or love of a dog). No twist, no surprise just a gentle wind down of the hero riding off into the sunset (actually we don;t even get that).
    The best of Koontz is his ideas, better than King. King takes a lot of his ideas from old stuff – Under the Dome from an old Twlight Zone episode or even the bottled city of Kandor, but what makes King the master is his darkness, a darkness that Koontz can never touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Dave Parry // June 28, 2015 at 3:48 pm // Reply

    I gave up when he started writing the Odd and Frankenstein series of books. Two of my favorite Koontz are Fear Nothing and Seize The Night, the first two books of the Moonlight Bay trilogy. These are really excellent chilling and mysterious stories but are incomplete – end of Seize The Night the story was just left hanging, awaiting the third book. Well it’s 16 years and I, like many Koontz fans. are still waiting. To be honest I am really pissed off at him. Since 2003 he’s said he’s halfway through the third book and 12 years later, still nada.

    Wake me up when Ride The Storm is finally published, until then he can go fly a kite.


  31. So glad you mentioned Watchers and Servants of Twilight. Watchers – though I’ve not read it in awhile now – stuck with me. Excellent novel.


  32. Just finished “Shattered”
    I can not BELIEVE this guy was EVER considered a great writer.
    His endless meaningless description of details is overdone and boring.
    He COMPLETE lack of understanding of physical things is amazing! He writes as if he is trying to capture a beyond belief movie scene.

    Some examples:
    1) An van slightly bumps against a car going the same speed and same direction on the highway and “Sparks shower up into the air”. HUH? In what frigging universe?
    2) A car is accelerating and it rumbles and shakes and shimmies FIRST but then ‘settles in” and smooths out as it speeds up. Yeah, nice physics.
    3) If a Thunderbird goes off the road and rolls over it will “Fall apart like paper and burst into flames”. Yeah, in cartoons maybe. Has this guy EVER driven a car?

    And his laborious LIBERAL minded opinions and politics.
    The hero in the book is treated badly all across the nation by everyone and of course they are ALL country bumpkins, good old boys and they are all apparently racists.

    And one GLARING stupid plot feature.. a Van follows the victims across the country many times RIGHT on their bumper and NOT ONCE, does either victim try to get the DAMN license plate. Even while complaining they don’t have “any information” to give to the Police

    Has to be one of the most POORLY written books I have EVER read!!!!



  33. Well, Intensity is a classic, I loved the Snow series when they first came out and that one he did about the town under hypnosis was awesome. I liked Innocence too. He seems such a nice man with his dog charity and faith.

    Let’s face it – Koontz rules.


  34. I used to be a huge Koontz fan, but lost interest in his work when he began shifting from storytelling to sermonizing. I’ll give him his tired tropes of special needs kids and adopted dogs saving the world through their purity and innocence, but I can’t escape his religious condescension towards his villains. Find a character in a Koontz novel of the past 2 decades who doesn’t believe in God, or who engages in illicit kinky sex, and you’ve got your one-dimensional villain.

    Night Chills, The Bad Place, Twilight Eyes, and Phantoms are all classics, but I’ve sadly had to give up altogether after far too many DNF attempts with his recent stuff.


  35. Allan Beacham // December 3, 2015 at 8:52 am // Reply

    Just been raiding charity shops for old paperbacks of of 70’s and 80’s horror novels. Where King and Koontz are always available, due to the competing nature of book companies. Always copying the success ( how things have changed ) of a best seller. Many authors would of been encouraged to keep up with the prolific output of Mr King. I think that Dean did an outstanding job considering he was always held up to high standards of Stephen King.

    For most of us King is most likely the first horror novel we have read. I have never read a John Saul book due to what Stephen wrote in Danse Macabre, but back to Dean. Currently reading strange highways. His books of the 70’s , 80’s and 90’s are good reads, and they are stand alone novels. When did publishers decide that we can’t start reading a novel with new characters?

    Night chills is awesome. Can I say awesome?


  36. Old Fart Koontz Fan // January 4, 2016 at 2:38 am // Reply

    After reading through all the comments above, I must say, I am, for the most part, baffled and saddened. I have, for many years, read both Koontz and King, and maintain respect for both authors. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, as do we all, but many of the criticisms posted here are short-sighted and, in my opinion, largely undeserved. Koontz’s style has, indeed changed over the years. We ALL change as we experience life – it’s inevitable. My take on it is that Dean’s own journey is reflected in his writing. He shares with his readers his own struggles and revelations, and yes, even hints of his own faith as it has solidified over the years. Let me qualify that statement by saying that I am not a bible-thumper; I have questioned my own belief system through the years, and continue to have issues with most organized religion. However, I have come to believe that faith is not synonymous with religion. I have never felt that Koontz was “preaching” as I read his novels. What I HAVE come away with, was a challenge – to question our own motives & beliefs, keep an open mind about those things that we can’t always explain, and embrace the wonder of the world around us.

    I have to wonder if some of the Koontz-bashing stems from a generation gap . . . only one person revealed age, but my guess is that the vast majority of you are much younger than am I, Koontz and King. I wonder if, in another 20 years, some of you might re-read some of the bashed titles, and come away with an entirely different opinion? I have my favorites, but in nearly every Koontz novel, (as well as some of King’s) I run across tidbits that make me stop short, back up, and re-read a passage, simply because it is thought-provoking. And, I can’t resist adding that I too, often find unfamiliar words in Koontz novels, but am not at all offended or irritated by them. Rather, I am curious enough to look up the meanings, and almost always come to the conclusion that Koontz choses particular words not in order to flaunt his vast vocabulary, but because they have more specific and appropriate meanings in the context of the situation, event or character.

    Beginning with From the Corner of His Eye, I believe Koontz explores the very worst, darkest capacity of humanity, while still leaving readers with the hope that we are not beyond redemption. Not an easy feat.

    If you check around, you will find that often, Koontz is his own worst critic . . . but he loves his craft, and tries to impart bits of wisdom through his writing, rather than simply entertaining us. If pure entertainment is what you seek, might I suggest James Patterson? A change of genre to be sure, and a whole cadre of forgettable characters (except for his long-standing series), but meant strictly to entertain, Simple, quick reads, no fluff, no big words, nothing to ponder.

    Dean Koontz continues to be one of my all-time favorite authors. Keep ’em coming, Dean.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Skeptical Reader // January 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm // Reply

      Are you Dean Koontz?


      • Old Fart Koontz Fan // January 8, 2016 at 1:56 am //

        Nope. I’m a short, fat, white woman who lives outside Atlanta, clear across the country from California. Just a long-time Koontz fan. Oh, yeah, and I’m also a dog-lover. Shelties, not golden retrievers, but still.


    • Great commentary on Koontz. All things considered, I believe he’s really a better writer than SK, though I love them both. Koontz is more of a thinking man’s King, I guess. I still don’t like his latter stuff as much as his earlier works, though…or I should say his mid-career works, starting around Watchers. Though the same is true with King (except for his Kennedy book, which I thought was awesome). Truth be told, though…give me Robert McCammon over both of them.


      • If you haven’t read Joyland, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s actually a Top 10 Stephen King book for me at this point. I’ve read it more than once and it only gets better. Best work he’s done in decades. 11/22/63 was a very good book, and I’d recommend it, but I did feel it had a few stretches that felt like they dragged a bit. Joyland is just a punch to the brain and it’s amazing. Not outright horror, but a stunning, stunning story.


  37. Use to quite like Koontz’s novels but he has been in the top five of my sh*t list for about 15 years now, because in all that time, he has been dragging his ass on completing the third part of the Moonlight Bay trilogy – ‘Fear Nothing’, ‘Seize The Night’. These are two of the most intense books he’s done and I was eagerly waiting for the final novel and then nothing. He was halfway though about 12 years ago and then he got ‘Odd’ and still not sign of ‘Ride The Lightening’.


  38. PS: Apologies for all the typos above, just woke up.


  39. One thing that may explain the ‘oddities’ in his work – Book Of Counted Sorrows’ for example plus his love of dogs as friends rather than merely pets, is the kind of childhood he had in Pennsylvania. Here’s a quote (I do so without permission which is why I haven’t included more information but if you search online you’ll find more details):

    ‘The life of author Dean Koontz has all the ingredients of a heart-stopping bestseller.

    The only child of an abusive marriage, Koontz, 56, grew up poor in Bedford, Pa. Koontz’ father, Ray, was an alcoholic and schizophrenic who never could relate to his son and tried twice to kill him. Koontz’ mother, Florence, doted on her son but was in frail health. On her deathbed, she attempted to tell her son something about his father that she said could change his life, but died before she could reveal the secret.’


  40. Old Fart Koontz Fan // January 15, 2016 at 3:24 am // Reply

    Thanks for sharing that, Dave. I agree, that his early life had to have impacted his writing. I remember reading something about his father being an abusive alcoholic, but never saw the rest. Will definitely look it up.
    P.S. As much as I still love Koontz, I’m with you on the long overdue Christopher Snow book. I think Odd came along, and Snow got pushed waaay back on the back burner. I vaguely remember Koontz mentioning something to that effect, either on his website Q&A, or else in his newsletter, “Useless News.” Then again, how long did it take King to finish his Gunslinger series? 20 years, give or take? Maybe we need to inundate Koontz with fan requests for the return of Chris Snow . . . everybody needs a push every so often.


  41. I think Koontz was the first adult author that I got into. A few of his books really struck a chord with me – Strangers, Dragon Tears, Dark Rivers of the Heart. I started to lose interest when I read a book or two that fell flat. I can’t remember the title, but there were a few attempts at humor that never clicked with me.

    Maybe there are some good titles that I’m missing, but I usually find there are so many books that I’m dying to read that I never make time for stuff like this anymore.


  42. I would say Dean’s best novels are
    the taking
    False memory
    The husband
    The good guy

    Best of luck


  43. Old Fart Koontz Fan // January 30, 2016 at 11:53 pm // Reply

    Have any of you read any of the Preston & Child books? I have added them to my favorites in recent years. Both have written some great stand-alones, but my favorites are in the Pendergast series that they co-author. The Pendergast character debuts in Relic and Reliquary, but both of those are hard to find anymore (Relic was made into a B movie – didn’t begin to do the book justice,) He becomes the central character with Cabinet of Curiosities. If you like that one, you will love the rest of the series (up to 20 or so now?). If you get bogged down in details easily, they may not appeal to you, because both authors research heavily and are very descriptive. It’s worth wading through the first few chapters to me, because when the stories come together, they do it with a bang. These two are masters at weaving intricate stories.


  44. Personally, I love them both!! Stephen King is a master at what he does and Dean Koontz is a master at what he does!! By that I mean, Dean Koontz is more into the mind game, head f*ck, psychological aspect whereas Stephen King is more on the face of it. With Koontz, personally, I find myself really getting drawn in and having to use my mind on a much more of a deeper level than with King. King is much easier ( I don’t mean better by a long shot) to read. You don’t have to create the story as you go along, I’m hoping people reading this will understand where I’m coming from. I think that with a bloody good imagination, Koontz can take you places that King most definitely can’t. However, With King, He can take you places you wouldn’t ordinarily go and it’s an absolutely amazingly thrilling ride without having to use too much of your imagination. One of Dean Koontz books (and the first one of Koontz books I read) was Door to December, and after that, I was hooked! So yeah, I LOVE THEM BOTH equally!


    • Old Fart Koontz Fan // March 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm // Reply

      Good description on difference between Koontz & King – I absolutely agree. The one that stuck the most with me was From the Corner of His Eye. (Loaned it to my boss years ago, because his reading selection was just way too tame. When he returned it, he said, “I don’t know whether to thank you or hit you!” But I noticed Koontz titles in his office later . . .LOL.) If you haven’t read many of the titles before Door to December, you should definitely go back & give them a whirl. Our public library system here has a used book sale every Spring & Fall – I’ve been able to find older titles for many of my favorite authors there. And, since books are so cheap, I’ve picked up other authors and gotten hooked on them, too. Of course, as a result, I have a year’s worth of books to read . . . . But, if you love to read, it’s worth checking to see if your library system does the same.


  45. I used to adore Koontz, and will still list him as one of my favorite horror writers, but after a certain point, I definitely feel like his work lost its shine for me. (I’m also the rare horror reader that doesn’t particularly care for King.) I don’t get why he’s bashed, though. The man definitely has talent. (Then again, I can’t quite understand why King gets obsessively praised.The word bloat in his novels drives me nuts.)


  46. I would love to have a writing career like his. Known, popular, able to do it for years, but not really reaching so popular a status you can’t go to the store. Sounds kind of nice. I need to read more of his books.


  47. Reblogged this on Our Darkest Fears and commented:
    I found this to be a really interesting question. When I first started reading Stephen King when I was ten, Koontz was the next writer in line for me to devour. I admit, his older works are the better reads, but he always usually gives you a good ride. If you’re on the fence, go and re-read his work. When I need a fun trip through the supernatural, Dean brings it home. Lastly, I’ll save this for another post next week, but I want to discuss everyone’s feelings on John Saul.

    Keep turning those pages,


2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Re-Reading Project: Strangers | Jill of All Genres
  2. Reblogged: Why is Dean Koontz Loathed in Such Heinous Fashion? - Scifi and Scary Book Reviews

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