Strange Highways

by Dean Koontz

“You don’t have to make the world peaceful,” she said. “It is to begin with. You just have to learn not to disturb things.”

Mr. Koontz has an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable, worth every penny and then some, but not often eye-opening. If you’re a reader of his novels but haven’t seen this collection, you’re about to see an entirely different strength to his writing.

Opening with the novel, also titled Strange Highways, the book starts off strong with a kind of accidental time travel and remains strong after the novel finishes and the shorter works begin. In fact, this book has very little to hinder its momentum besides the 2 novels, and that’s not because they’re somehow at fault, it’s just the nature of novel vs. short story. The other novel contained in the collection, Chase (sometimes referred to as a novella), ends the book. In between the two novels are fast paced stories that nearly anyone who loves horror should enjoy. While Koontz is mostly known today for his thrillers, this book plays up the strange more than anything. It really is mostly horror  while he takes a break from thrillers. Strangely enough, this was a good thing in regards to this book.

The story “Twilight of the Dawn,” may be the crowning achievement. If the novels weren’t book-ending the collection, this would be the final story.

“Twilight of the Dawn” is one of the least horror-themed stories contained here, but the author grips you by the throat in this heart-rending story and won’t let you go. There’s a good chance you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. The story focuses on the relationship between a young boy and his father, the latter whom grew up under such oppressive circumstances caused by his fanatically religious parents that he adamantly denies all religion and champions atheism. Tragedy strikes, and the father’s beliefs eventually become at odds with emerging beliefs of his son as the young boy is drawn to some of the answers provided by the vague religious doctrine he’s picked up over time despite his father’s best efforts. As the father grapples with this divide between the two, tragedy deepens, and as the tale approaches its close you will be moved, regardless of your personal system. A relentless, heart-breaking study of the father/son relationship, the nature of faith and the beauty and tragedy of life.

For traditional Koontz fans and horror lovers, this collection is where it’s at.

4 stars

 

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