Picture from "The Library Dragon" by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrations by Michael P. White

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."
- G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Horror -- Breathless by Dean Koontz

I’ve always been a fan of horror authors – particularly Stephen King and Dean Koontz. While I’ve kept up with King, I haven’t read a Koontz novel in many years so I decided it was time to check in with him again. Having recently started a new job that requires spending quite a bit of time in the car, I decided to try an audiobook. I must confess, it was the silhouette of a dog on the cover that convinced me to try Breathless. As an animal person myself, I just love the way Koontz writes about dogs.

The dog in this story is an Irish wolfhound named Merlin. While hiking with his master, Grady Adams, near their Colorado Mountain home the two discover a pair of previously unknown and completely wondrous white furred creatures. They end up following Grady and Merlin home, and Grady enlists the aid of the local veterinarian, Camilla “Cammy” Rivers in trying to determine what they are, where they came from and what should happen next. Grady and Cammy are the perfect horror protagonists, both scarred (literally and symbolically) by their tragic pasts. Will they save, or be saved by, the creatures that Cammy names Puzzle and Riddle.

When discussing the language used by horror writers, Joyce Saricks references several of Dean Koontz’s novels for their “rich adjectives and descriptions.” An excellent example of this language can be seen when Koontz describes the color of Puzzle’s and Riddle’s unusual eyes as “sapphire washed through the gold, and then many shades of blue at once, and the gold repeatedly bloomed through the other hues, like the base-weave color in a rippling garment of lustrous silk.” Generally, I get bored with flowery language such as this, but since I was listening rather than reading I was able to let it flow over me and found it did add to the mystical quality of the story.

The creatures, while obviously of supernatural or paranormal origin turn out not to be the monsters in this horror story. The monsters turn out to be all too human. Chapters alternate between fanciful descriptions of the creatures interacting with their new friends and the introduction of a trove of seemingly unconnected characters, many of whom appear to be quite sinister. It is these characters who fuel the atmosphere of fear and foreboding, climaxing with their intersection with our protagonists. In traditional horror story style, the ending left me wondering exactly how the fate of mankind will be affected by these magical creatures, for Koontz leaves no doubt that they will have a profound impact.

See Amazon video at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m3IK6EUL69LTG8/ref=ent_fb_link

Koontz, Dean. Breathless [Audiobook] Jeffrey Cummings, Reader. Brilliance Audio, 2009.

Saricks, Joyce G. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. American Library Association Editions, 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment