When is a haunted house not a haunted house? When it’s in a Dean Koontz novel, of course.
In Koontz’ “77 Shadow Street,” as in so many of his novels, things aren’t what they seem to be when the trip begins. Take an old, luxury apartment building called the Pendleton that used to be a mansion, add a cast of 10 or so wealthy tenants and employees, throw in an elevator that descends below the basement and a swimming pool with something strange in it and you have what seems to be the beginning of a supernatural thriller.
Koontz loves to explore the nature of evil, and in this story he looks at it from a different angle. Told through the varying viewpoints of different characters, we see that the source of evil isn’t always something intentional but can easily come from the unintended consequences of human actions. Especially if those actions come from the desire to play God.
Truly, no other author that I know of today can create a believable character in so few sentences as can Dean Koontz. He always amazes me. The problem with this novel is that there are so many of them that the reader has trouble deciding which character to focus on. Add to that that the layout of the building is a key part of the story (there is even a 2 page diagram of the Pendleton at the start of the book), and it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the thematic thread of the novel.
Because of the nature of the story, I can’t go into much detail about the events in it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you if you decide to read it. And you should read it. Despite the drawbacks, it IS a Koontz novel and even one of his sub-par stories is better than many of today’s tale spinners’ best efforts. Yes, I am a fan.
By all means, pick up “77 Shadow Street.” Get the paperback edition if you can because it contains a bonus novella titled “The Moonlit Mind.” At 137 pages, that’s a nice extra and won’t take much of your time. Plus it’s got a dog in it.