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The Darkest Evening of the Year
By Dean Koontz
Bantam
978-0-553-80482-9
Copyright December 2007
Supernatural Thriller/General Fiction
www.deankoontz.com

Who would come up with the idea of writing a horror novel with a sweet golden retriever as one of its main protagonists? Dean Koontz does it, and marvelously well he does.

Amy Redwing lives for her goldens, those she owns and those she rescues from abusive homes. Her life, especially her past, is shrouded in mystery, a fact that makes her even more appealing to her boyfriend, architect Brian McCarthy. Brian has something in common with Amy, and it isn’t only a kind heart; he’s also haunted by a troubled past.

On one of her rescue missions, Amy boldly risks her life to save a female golden from a violent, alcoholic owner. That there’s something very odd and peculiar about this particular golden soon becomes evident. Amy instantly bonds with the creature and decides to adopt her.

Soon after Amy adopts the golden, Brian experiences a series of uncanny, paranormal incidents. At the same time, Amy realizes someone is after her, watching her every move… and this someone means her and her golden harm.

How are Amy’s and Brian’s past connected to the golden? Who is watching them and why does the person—or persons—mean them harm?

This is one of those books that not only entertain, but that strikes the reader at a deeper, more basic human level. Not easily forgotten, the story exemplifies Koontz’s most powerful skill as a horror writer: to remind us the reality of good and evil—not only the presence of evil in the world, but also of the redeeming power of goodness. Koontz’s writing style is beautiful and evocative. His author omniscient’s observations are a delight more than an intrusion.

The Darkest Evening of the Year will be relished by fans of paranormal thrillers. For lovers of golden retrievers, as I am, this will be a particularly rewarding read.

–Dark Phantom

*This review originally appeared on Armchair Interviews

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