Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shadowfires by Dean R Koontz

Author: Dean R Koontz


1st Published:
558 pages

Rachel Leben's violently possessive ex-husband, Eric, hideously mangled in a freak accident, is dead. But his body has disappeared from the city morgue. Now someone, or something, is watching Rachel. Calling her. Stalking her. And though no one will believe her, she knows who it is.

Before I even start the review, I have to get a few things on the page & be upfront: I’m a fan of Mr. Koontz & expect great things – he usually delivers. I am also a huge horror fan: Give me vampires & werewolves & I’m in seventh heaven; aliens & demons from the deepest, darkest pits of Hell & I’m in my element; but zombies, well, lets just say I’ve never found the zombie the most plausible of the monsters that populate the world of horror (or mummies, which are, essentially, gift-wrapped zombies anyway).

Shadowfires is, basically, a zombie book & I’m sad to say it’s not the best one I’ve read. In fact, it’s pretty dire. It’s also waaaay too long at just shy of 600 pages. It could easily have lost between 150 & 200 pages (& I really do believe this should have been done, as its murder to slog through this hefty tome & there’s very little return on your investment). It felt like it took an age to get to the end.

Not much ever seems to happen (I say “seems” because plenty happens, it just feels like its spread pretty thin, hence my desire to take a red pen to the text & just cut, cut, cut!). There was too much description, little actual character development (although character histories were perhaps just a little too in-depth), & the dialogue had no natural flow. I just couldn’t get into it & I found I was forcing myself to resist skipping entire pages just to get to the next plot point (I was determined to persevere).

This is one of Koontz’ earlier books (you can tell because the “R” hasn’t yet been dropped from his name) & shows very little of his immense talent. You’d almost be forgiven for believing someone else wrote this as there’s no element of mystery & none of his usual flare for drawing the reader into the story. The description is repetitive; the messages, trite & not even thinly veiled; the ending, abrupt & a bit of a cop-out.

Disappointing in the extreme, I’d recommend newcomers to avoid this one in case it puts them off, as they’d be missing gems such as Lightning, The Taking, The Bad Place & Cold Fire - all far better advertisements for Koontz than this.

Rating: 3/10


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