Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Goldens, Angels, Children, Oh My!
What does a golden retriever, down syndrome child and 3 psychotic killers have in common? The answer: Dean Koontz. "The Darkest Evening of the Year" had me on the edge of my seat one moment, thinking about the divine in the next and crying over the cruelty of humans toward other living beings including themselves. With help of the Divine Mr. Koontz tells the story of hope and love that transcends the tragedies of this world.
This story is amazing. I finished it last night and I dreamed of golden retrievers and angels. I could feel the passion of the author for his story. The subjects of child and animal abuse are important to Mr. Koontz. The book was sometimes hard to read, especially when Moon Girl/Vanessa is torturing her unwanted child.
Let me tell you a little bit about the story and then I can get back to raving about what a terrific writer Dean Koontz is.
Amy Redwing is a young woman who was orphaned as a baby and then again as a small child and ended up being raised in an orphanage, Our Mother of Mercy. When she returned to the orphanage the second time after the sudden death of her adoptive parents she was withdrawn, depressed and the nuns feared for her health. One day a stray golden retriever shows up at the orphanage and Amy makes an immediate connection to the animal. She helps the sisters get the dog cleaned and settled and convinces them to keep the dog . She gives the female dog the name Nickie. For the next 10 years or so Amy and Nickie are inseparable and are almost legend amongst the other children. Shortly before Amy goes out on her own Nickie gets sick and dies in her arms.
Fast forward another 10 years and Amy runs Golden Heart, an animal rescue shelter for golden retrievers. One night she gets a call for a rescue and with her boyfriend Brian goes to a house to help a woman save her dog from her abusive husband. In the process Amy rescues not only the dog but the mother and her two children from the drunken, angry, violent man. She also discovers a strange and wonderful connection to the new retriever. Instead of setting the dog up for a “forever home” she adopts the dog herself and you guessed it, names her Nickie.
Brian, the boyfriend, is an up and coming architect with a past of his own which involves a short affair with a beautiful but manipulative girl who is crazy. He gets her pregnant and she demands he signs away his rights to her so the new man in her life, a very wealthy but sterile businessman, can adopt the child. At first he is relieved to not be burdened with a baby but as the birth approaches he realizes that it wouldn't be right to not be there for his child. When the baby is born and discovered to have down syndrome the businessman drops her like a rotten potato. Even though Brian tells Vanessa he would be more than happy to take on the burden of the baby girl, crazy girl makes it her mission for the next ten years to torture both Brian and the baby.
Both Amy’s and Brian’s stories are deeper and more horrible than my short blurb can say. These separate and unrelated pasts converge into one very long evening in a violent confrontation. I will tell you the good beats out evil but the question you have to ask is, at what cost?

Dean Koontz is, in my opinion, an extraordinary author. His ability to create horrible situations and not only make them feel real but to make me, the reader, feel such compassion and empathy for the characters is equaled only by Stephen King.
I couldn’t put this story down. I was at times smiling, other times grossed out and angry. Mr. Koontz made me feel. I didn’t just read the emotions of the characters, I felt them. I was pulling for the good guys and I wanted the bad guys hurt, in the words of Vanessa, “Hurt Hard”. "The Darkest Evening of the Years" is 5 stars, 2 thumbs up and an angel on top good.

The adjoining picture is of Dean and his Golden, Trixie.

1 comment:

The Serial Dater said...

Hi Mame,
I love reading your blog. Please follow me and call me when you can.
Victoria 561-339-5929