Such genuine trust, so sweetly expressed, bears witness to an innocence in the human heart that endures even in this broken world and that longs to ring the bell backward and undo the days of history until all such trust would be justified in a world started anew and as it always should have been.
There’s a large company of readers for whom a new Dean Koontz book is always cause for rejoicing. But more than that, a new Odd Thomas book is cause for double rejoicing. The wandering fry cook from Pico Mundo, California is Koontz’s greatest creation, one of the most perfect depictions of genuine saintliness ever conceived by an author. Not the common conception of saintliness—stuffy and judgmental—but the actual, biblical kind—humble, gentle, and quietly courageous.
Odd Interlude is an “odd” entry in the series. It’s a novella, offered in three installments, One, Two, and Three, sold for Kindle at $1.99 each, partly to raise interest in Odd Apocalypse, a new novel coming later this year. As if we needed motivation.
In Odd Interlude, he and his new companion, Annamaria (a placid pregnant woman who, though being hunted by murderers, shows no sign of fear) pull into a service station and motel in the quiet coastal hamlet of Harmony Cove, California. They soon discover that this is a community living in appalling enslavement. A mysterious power takes control of each person in turn, tormenting them in various ways and forcing them to punish themselves—and each other—when they disobey its commands. Odd meets Jolie, a twelve year old girl who’s been marked for death because she’s “too beautiful to live,” and with her help makes his way to the center of the evil, and a confrontation with an unspeakable monstrosity.
What impressed me most about Odd Interlude (and I was impressed in many ways) was how Koontz managed to express, in fantasy form, the precise feeling of living in an abusive home. Koontz himself grew up in one such, and I had a similar experience and know the signs. I recommend this book simply as a study in familial dysfunction, for those wishing to understand it better.
A couple things surprised me. At one point, Koontz falls back on the old “follow your heart” cliché, which is beneath him, in my opinion. I was also surprised to see a passage, in a book by a practicing Catholic, in which Odd takes comfort (for a particular reason) in the fact that a loved one was cremated, not buried.
But those are minor things, and I’m sure Koontz has his reasons. All in all, I recommend Odd Interlude with the highest praise. I think it’s one of the best installments in a stellar series.
Not for very young readers.
Lars Walker is the author of several fantasy novels, the latest of which is an e-book, Troll Valley.