He’s back folks. After a number of novels that have left me wondering what in the world happened to one of my favorite contemporary authors; Dean Koontz is back to form.

Ashley Bell does what some of Koontz’s best work does; defies genre. One of the things that always excited me about Koontz was the genre hopping that happened throughout his novels. What started as horror would end up being science fiction but only after passing through a corridor of psychological drama. Or one would begin as what you thought would be a science fiction tale only to end up being grounded in reality. Ashley Bell does this wonderfully.

Dean supplies many of the tropes that are incorporated in many (if not all) his novels. We have a strong woman character, a precocious child who is wise beyond her years, dogs that are short of being angelic beings and a hope for humanity and the strength of love that conquers all. None of this should be a surprise for anyone who has read more than half a dozen Koontz novels. Yet it is in his wonderfully fecund writing is Kootz ableto transcend what one would expect to be treading over tired ground.

Koontz truly is an expert in words.  His characters, good and bad, while on the surface seem almost to be carbon copies of each other from previous novels are imaginatively original. Bibi, our main character has so many qualities of Koontz’s historically powerful independent woman as does the main baddie.  However they are written with such complexity and love that they are alive and wholly original.

Now as I gush with a renewed love for Dean, I will say that I still have some reservations.  Dean still has a slight disdain for science compared to a belief in heavenly magic but again it’s in his gorgeous writing that it is not too much of a negative experience.

Koontz’s normal wit and humor filled writing is still in play, but it’s reined in enough not to be exhausting.

This novel does an expectional job of expressing Koontz’s obvious love, and somewhat Mary Sue high opinion of the power of literature and imagination.  How a powerful im  can alter and/or define reality is the main through line of this most recent tale.

I can’t recommend this novel highly enough for anyone that has been as disillusioned by the last slew of underperforming Koontz novels.  It’s not necessarily at the level of Koontz’s hay-day (Watchers, Lightning, Phantoms) or even (the last great one in my opinion; Life Expectancy (2004) but like I said at the top, it’s a return to form.

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