Dean Koontz thriller provides twists, chills
“The Taking” by Dean Koontz
Sleeping with the lights on? Checking the closets and making sure the doors are locked? Could these be the telltale signs of reading a new Dean Koontz novel? Despite having delighted in some of the strangest books in the horror genre, I still find hair rising on the back of my neck during the well-crafted suspense stories of Mr. Koontz.
“The Taking” is a science-fiction-style thriller that begins setting readers on edge from the first page, and relentlessly twists and turns to the very end. Using the well-worn scenario of alien invasion – not the first time for Koontz – the story unfolds around Molly, a moderately successful novelist and her ex-priest husband, Neil, in the San Bernardino Mountains of California.
Waking to find a phosphorescent rain falling in torrents and normally wild coyotes cowering on the porch, Molly wakes Neil from a nightmare to discover the situation is much worse than she had previously imagined. The couple soon finds the event is of global scale: impossibly large water spouts sucking sea water into space, glowing rain and snow falling throughout the world, and vague reports of violence from unspecified assailants. As communications rapidly deteriorate, Molly and Neil decide to go into the small mountain town nearby to seek the safety and solace of other human beings.
So begins the adventure to save not only themselves, but also abandoned children throughout town, from the decidedly evil intentions of the unidentified invaders and their diverse minions. With the help of some nearly supernatural canines – again not the first time for the author – Molly and Neil shrug off the despair-filled decisions of other townsfolk and follow the lead of the dogs. Fungal alien creatures, re-animated corpses, buildings that come alive and a ghastly talking doll are among the terrifying host of wrongs that must be overcome and endured.
Fraught with misconceptions based on incomplete information by the characters and a well crafted dose of literary deception, “The Taking” is a thrill ride not only frightening but suspenseful. Once again Dean Koontz has crafted a compelling journey into the recesses of human fear and self doubt, while mixing in his trademark assertions of human frailty and moral struggle. The overtly religious twist at the end, although seemingly out of context, turns the entire story into a thought-provoking parable that might bring us to question our very way of life.
– Michael Stroschein is co-owner/manager of Neighbors Bookstore in the Village Center.