***This review does contain spoilers***
Yes, I know – this book came out a couple of years ago. What can I say? I pick up what looks good to me, whether it came out yesterday, two years ago, or two centuries ago. I can’t help it, I’m eclectic. And when I read, then I review.
I really loved this book. Dean Koontz writes some amazing stuff, and this book is no different.
77 Shadow Street is about an apartment building called the Pendleton. Once the sprawling home of wealthy businessman Andrew Pendleton and his family, it has gone through renovations and is now the home of several wealthy residents, whose fates are now entwined.
Pendleton’s wife and two children disappeared without a trace one day more than a hundred years ago, and that was only the beginning of the horrors that happened, and continue to happen, in this building. The history of the home is interspersed with the current happenings in the building, where the residents notice strange things: earthquake-like rattlings, strange shadows on the walls, a swimmer that looks human but swims more like a shark, and one resident who, upon taking the elevator UPstairs, finds himself going down far below the basement.
As the book progresses, we find that past, present and future overlap and intertwine, leaving us uncertain as to what is real and what is not – except that even what is not, actually is. We meet Witness, a strange observer who knows far more than he is telling, and who is torn between duty and compassion.
77 Shadow Street, the address of the Pendleton, is also the address of an unspeakable horror. But is this horror centuries, or even millennia, old? Or is it something much newer…maybe even something that doesn’t exist yet? Who, or what, are the pogramites?
77 Shadow Street is a terrifying take on the advances of society and science, on what might happen if we one day succeed in integrating our brains with computers. It’s a reminder that we have to think carefully about the things we do, about the changes we make, about the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children. It tells the story of how horribly science can go wrong, and how it can be nearly impossible to stop. It weaves a tale of how the advance that seems so wonderful, that sounds like such an accomplishment, could instead turn out to be our downfall. And it definitely makes you think twice about whether or not some of these ideas that people toss around are really so wonderful as we might think.
The version I read also included the novella, The Moonlit Mind. So, as a bonus, here’s my review of The Moonlit Mind.
This is the tale of Crispin and his faithful dog, Harley. Crispin has been on the run since he was nine years old, though we join him three years later. Raised by a mother who saw him, as well as his younger brother and sister as nothing more than a paycheck, he thought his life would be different after his mother married a wealthy man who seemed to want a family. But Crispin quickly learned that maybe Step-Daddy Dearest wasn’t such a great catch after all.
He hides in cemeteries, parks, drains, anywhere and everywhere can. He’s learned where he’s safest from those who want to find and hurt him, and where they’re most likely to be looking for him. Harley, his constant companion, seems to know how to keep his young master safe, and how to provide the simple friendship and companionship the boy needs.
Crispin also finds companionship in the form of a teenage girl a couple of years older than he is, and also on the run from someone deadly. They both know that the only way to remain safe, and to keep others safe, is to remain on the run. But Crispin also knows that one day, a deck of cards will decide his fate, and he’ll have to return to the house that ate his brother and sister. He’ll have to face the demons in human form who tore his family apart and sent him fleeing into the streets for protection.
When that day comes, when the cards tell him to go home, Crispin shows a sense of bravery that one would expect from someone who has had to survive on the streets. We’ve learned throughout the story just what happened to his siblings, and the fate that awaited him if he’d remained. So we know just how hard it is to go back.
But go back, he does. And in so doing, he figures out exactly what happened and that he can help his brother and sister find the peace they so rightly deserve. With the support of the canine Harley, Crispin does what is necessary to free the two young children from the evil that has held them captive since he disappeared into the streets three years ago. He also destroys, or at least damages severely, that same evil.
At only 102 pages, this is a short, fast read. But short and fast does not equal shallow or poorly written. This is a spooky tale full of fear, horror and characters that will touch your soul or strike fear in your heart.
Whether you get this novella as a bonus when you read 77 Shadow Street, or you buy it separately to read, it is well worth the read. As he always does, with both of these stories, Koontz delivers a great read that will stick with you and make you think.
Pick up 77 Shadow Street: