Darkfall by Dean Koontz

(No Series)

They found four corpses in four days. Each more hideously disfigured than the last, the bodies punctured with dozens of tiny wounds.At first they thought it was a savage psychopath. Then they thought it was a vicious gangland war. Then they thought packs of demonic rats were escaping through the ventilation system.

Then they saw the nightmare itself, in all its mottled, slimy horror, coming after them from every direction, and they realized that the Gates of Hell had been left open...

Darkfall, as an early Koontz novel, is chocked full of horror, straight arrow chills, and all the things that make us look under the bed at night. The theme itself (demonic creatures?) drew me immediately and I stuck to these pages like dirt on a bar of used soap.

The plot itself isn’t overly complicated but it’s laid out in a way that allows it to come off as a semi-mystery wannabe. The ending isn’t shocking once it’s unraveled, but there’s no way in hell I could have guessed it the first few chapters of this page-turner. From beginning to end, I was enchanted by strong characterization, creepy deaths, an odd sort of confusion, and interest to learn more. And interest, my dear readers, is the key to making a good book. Koontz has prevailed once again.

Every writer pays some sort of attention to atmosphere (although not all are impressive in their efforts), yet sometimes you don’t have to have it deep, dark, and brooding to make it work in horror. Here Koontz doesn’t spend too much time waving his magic wand to make things black and gritty; instead, his focus seems to be more on the characters. Because of this, while there are creepy moments, it doesn’t have that still sort of fear induced from other novels like his, such as "Phantoms."

The main characters are two cops, an interesting pair who are just now bringing their relationship up to ‘another level’. Jack is the main lead of the bunch, being the male partner falling in love with his female counterpart, the distant and somewhat cold seeming Rebecca with a haunting secret of her own. He is also the father of two adorable children, Penny and Davey, who bring their own sense of charm to the novel. The main villain is convincingly scripted, with a creepy personality that brings forth interesting (while morbid) antics.

The pace is swift and strong. From the beginning murder to the final chapter. There is one issue I had with this, though, and that was the ending. Too abrupt and cut off. A lot of steam building up for the final boil over...while it happens so quickly that if you blinked, you missed it.

Koontz’s style in this one is simple and yet well written. The words all flow together well, the characters are deep, the plot is follow-able and avoids confusion, and the tension/suspense strummed tightly enough.

While Darkfall delivers on many levels, it fails on a small few - one of the main issues being the ending, and the other being a somewhat light use of atmosphere when it could have been used to greater advantage. In the end though, any weakness is melted away by the strength of the book’s heat. Darkfall is a gripping, thought provoking, and moving read packed full of real people, creepy scenarios, and vivid details.

   Book Quotes:

“Holy men tell us life is a mystery.
They embrace that concept happily.
But some mysteries bite and bark
and come to get you in the dark.”