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The Funhouse

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  18,979 Ratings  ·  454 Reviews
Once there was a girl who ran away and joined a traveling carnival. She married a man she grew to hate--and gave birth to a child so monstrous that she killed it with her own hands. Twenty-five years later, she has a new life and two normal children. But her past still haunts her--and now the carnival is coming back to town...
Mass Market Paperback, 333 pages
Published June 1994 by Berkley (first published January 1st 1980)
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(showing 1-30)
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First reading- Oh so long my younger days- 3-stars.

Second reading- as a...semi-mature person-1-star.
Boy, did I ever hate this book!

It was originally released decades ago under a pen name. When the audio came up for free, I jumped on the chance, because I loved Dean Koontz back in the day. I thought that because I enjoyed his older books like The Watchers, that I would enjoy this one. I was wrong.

There were so many cliches in this book, it became sad. The characters were predictable and (surprise!) cliche. There was potential here but nothing original came out of this story.

The narrator was ok
Edward Lorn
Jun 05, 2016 Edward Lorn rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: research-for-cy
I remember buying this off the rack at Lucky's in Fontana, California, taking it home, and reading it all in one sitting. Teenage E. was all about this book. It was violent and creepy and quickly became one of my favorite Koontz novels. I even love the Tobe Hooper film based on this story.

All I can say is, Teenage E. was a gullible idiot. This book is terrible. Nobody acts believably. The horror is hokey. The dialogue is... sweet baby Tom Cruise, it's some of the worst I've read.

To anyone I ha
The book itself probably be no more than 4 stars, but because the idea of the book and the purpose it served for me I'll give it 5. I stole it from my mom's bookshelf in 8th grade and I remember it being the first definitive adult novel I ever read. I devoured it within days, it was such an easy read. From what I remember, the writing just flowed from one page to the next, making it simple for a relatively inexperienced reader like myself to follow along. I don't remember the sequence of events, ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Alejandro rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, novel
I had so much "fun" with this book (pun intended). But it was a creepy fun! ;) This novel was written by Dean Koontz but when it was originally published it was under the pseudonym of "Owen West". The decision to do it under other name I think it was because it was the novelization of a movie and so Dean Koontz wasn't too eager to be related with it if it happens to be bad. Well, the movie was bad BUT the book was good, real GOOD. You will notice that almost all people refer negative to the film ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
The carnival is always a unique, exciting setting for any horror novel. Amidst all the freaks, gloomy funhouses, maniacally grinning clowns, and … well, candy, there’s a man with a mission. To seek out and destroy his ex-wife’s children, the ex-wife who had taken away his own mutated son. Besides this juicy tidbit, there’s also a misled creature that delights in killing innocent men and raping/shredding apart women in each town it visits.

One thing that really made The Funhouse work was the chara
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you can not do."
-Anna Roosevelt

This book is definitely creepy.

The Funhouse is one of the last in-print Koontz books for me to read. I think the only other one I haven't read is Night Chills. The Funhouse recently became available in audiobook form
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 02, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it liked it
Not what I was expecting, and I'm pretty neutral towards the story, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it, either. It wasn't the most original, I could list off a ton of film and book titles with extremely similar plots right off the bat, but it was a somewhat entertaining book all the same.
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
The carnival is always a unique, exciting setting for any horror novel. Amidst all the freaks, gloomy funhouses, maniacally grinning clowns, and … well, candy, there’s a man with a mission. To seek out and destroy his ex-wife’s children, the ex-wife who had taken away his own mutated son. Besides this juicy tidbit, there’s also a misled creature that delights in killing innocent men and raping/shredding apart women in each town it visits.

One thing that really made The Funhouse work was the char
Dec 18, 2009 Lee rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror, hated-it
This book is so bad that I wish I could give it negative stars. The story we were promised sounds like it would be good:

"Years after leaving the carnival, her hated first husband, and the child she could never love, Ellen has a new life, a new husband, and two beautiful children, but now the carnival is coming back to town, and Ellen is going to have to pay for her sins."

But, Ellen is only part of the set-up of this story. Once the focus shifts to Ellen's "two beautiful children" going off to en
Jul 31, 2015 Corey rated it really liked it
I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book, since it was one of Koontz older books, and also written under a pseudonym. But surprisingly, I liked it, I had read that a lot of people hated this one but I thought it was pretty good. The storyline is intriguing and the plot is very easy to follow.

Barely seems to drag at all, and I liked the carnival setting. A fun and easy read.
Misty Battle
Aug 17, 2013 Misty Battle rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror, dean-koontz
That would be a negative star. It has never taken me so long to choke down a book in my life. It started off good and then it went downhill from there. I wish I could get those hours back I wasted reading this trash.
Aaron Thompson
Sep 09, 2014 Aaron Thompson rated it it was ok
I am a HUGE fan of Dean Koontz books, and I've read dozens of them, usually enjoying every page and finding myself unable to put them down. I've lost many hours of sleep because of this, since I sometimes find myself reading long into the night even when I know I'll be tired the next day.

With that being said, that was definitely not the case with Funhouse. Admittedly, the only reason I actually finished the entire book was my twisted curiosity for what would actually happen in the end, and whic
Kimberly Sexton
May 29, 2014 Kimberly Sexton rated it it was amazing
I love the carnival theme set to this book. Koontz wrote an exceptional story of the triumph of good over evil, with a twist of how too much religious good can be overbearing to a child. Kids can be rebellious and the circus is in town, which makes for a great escape for a child, or does it
Susan Mackie Powers
Jan 01, 2017 Susan Mackie Powers rated it really liked it
As a teenager, Ellen Giavenetto got tired of her dismal life in the home of her kind, but meek, father and her angry, overly religious mother, and decided to run away with a handsome carney, Conrad Straker, who owned and operated the famous Funhouse. She was certain that anything would be an upgrade from the life she had with her parents, but she had no idea what she was in for when she married Conrad. Conrad turned out to be angry and prone to violence and cruelty against her. Unbeknownst to he ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Gor93ous rated it it was ok
Somewhere between 2 and 2.5 stars

The Funhouse isn't exactly FUN, but it's not that boring either. I like it slightly better than Mr. Koontz's Twilight Eyes for the fact that the gore is très yummy-licious. Without a doubt, hanging-out intestine is really my thing.

But, it's mighty unfortunate that I've actually read better books demonstrating better goreXploration.

Now, let's talk about the plot, the storyline. Ellen was married to a handsome carnie named Conrad Straker, who at first seems gentle
Tina Pino
For some reason I skipped this one back in my Dean Koontz reading frenzy days, and just finally got around to reading.

On the plus side, I had fun reading this. It was, like much of early eighties horror, a fun, thrilling kind of scary, not a creepy evil kind of scary. I would give it four stars for readability if that's all I were rating it on. I need to clarify that if you are not a fan of horror to begin with, don't pick up this book thinking it will be fun. It is a horror book and filled wit
Delmy =^.^=
Jun 30, 2015 Delmy =^.^= rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fiction
This was my first Dean Koontz and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It took me a while to read it and it wasn't because the book itself was slow, you know life gets in the way, stress blah, blah, blah...


What if your mother was like so religious and thought you were like the evilest and to get back at her you run away and take up with carnies? Well, Ellen runs away with a carny and marries him, did you know a carny marriage is sealed by going on the carousel? and to end it you ride it by yourself
Shelby Moreland
May 30, 2013 Shelby Moreland rated it it was amazing
When Ellen was young and naive all she wanted was young love. Once she met Conrad, a carnie, Ellen knew he was the one. After talking for two weeks they got married and lived the carnie life, traveling around the country. Ellen soon found out that Conrad was no longer a charmer and started to physically abuse her. In a few weeks she was pregnant. Hoping that this child would bring happiness back into their life, the baby turned out to be not exactly human. Their love falls in and out and fails t ...more
Rosemary O'Malley
Oct 05, 2012 Rosemary O'Malley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I often hear about the cliche of creepy carnivals. When this novel first came out, it was something new. It was the late 80's when I found it in a used bookstore. I love carnivals; the creepier and sleazier, the better - and thought this was right up my alley. I'd read Bradbury's and King's versions, both of which were essentially coming-of-age stories, centered around (mostly) pre-adolsecent boys. This one was different.

It turned out to be really freaking scary.

This is actually a novelization
Gaston Sanders
Jan 29, 2015 Gaston Sanders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A scary ride through a terrifying psych...

He scared me to shivers. If a horror/paranormal writer can scare me to that level, take my word for it, it's downright terrorizing reading. Koontz is a master storyteller and character developer as can be seen in his leading characters. Amy was conflicted until the very end when she grew up and could tell evil from real life. The Funhouse is a hypnotic, enthralling story from beginning to end and it was difficult to put down for such mundane activities a
Jul 04, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookshelf
This book was a fun and creepy ride. I found it hard to put down and there were very few places where it dragged. The carnival setting is great, I've always thought carnivals were a little creepy, so this was the perfect backdrop for a horror story. My only criticism is that I hate the overly religious, fire and brimstone, condemning mother cliche that was in this book as well as others that I've read. I also felt that it ended very abruptly, an epilogue would have been nice.
I as going to give it one star, but couldn't. It's a bad potboiler, a great example that teenage slasher-carnival themed moies should never be novelised. I think only VC Andrews could have pulled of such story with grace; she's the queen of trashy books after all. Koontz fails at this; but after all he was still a developing writer and needed the money to fuel his career and write better books.
Oct 24, 2016 Mason rated it it was amazing
I got this book at DI for 75 cents over a year ago and it's been constantly pushed back as the next book I'll read ever since. this book is so old, it doesn't even have Dean Koontz' name on it. it's written by Owen West, which is either Dean's first pen name or his actual name. anyway, this book is awesome. true horror. do it a read.
Helene Vester
Jan 18, 2015 Helene Vester rated it it was ok
A long story and a very short climax. It wasn't as good as Koontz normally is. I neaded more action compared to the long story/introduction. I kind of hoped the book would turn out in the same way as "Life Expectancy", but I was very disappointed. For the first time I was disappointed by Koontz.
Gloria Barnum
Aug 07, 2015 Gloria Barnum rated it liked it
It was good up until the ending. Seems like the writer just stopped writing and didn't finish the book but it got published anyway.
Mar 14, 2016 Alex rated it liked it
Like the 80's horror movie of the same name, cheesy and wonderful!
Nov 19, 2010 Johnny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2015 Bill rated it liked it
This is one of Dean Koontz's earlier books--originally published in 1980 under the pseudonym Owen West. I didn't realize until after finishing the novel that it was a novelization of a Larry Block screenplay, which was made into the 1981 film The Funhouse. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) That heritage explains some of the shortcomings of the book. But first, the good stuff.
Koontz is always a sterling wordsmith, with a gift for captivating imagery and suspenseful plots, and he doesn't fail here. The stor
Jo Bennie
Dec 01, 2014 Jo Bennie rated it it was ok
Shelves: w, k
This early Koontz story was written under one of his pseudonym Owen West and is a novelisation of a screenplay, which explains much of its lack of development. The characters are very two dimensional and sympathy is difficult to find for them. Amy Harper is a confused teenager, the daugther of a fanatical catholic alcoholic, Amy is torn between feeling that she is wicked and that her mother is the one that is not normal. Her brother Joey is terrified by her mother's night time visits to his beds ...more
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  • Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography
Owen West is a pseudonym used by the author Dean Koontz.

Koontz has also published under the names Leigh Nichols, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Deanna Dwyer and Aaron Wolfe.

Note: More than one author has written under the name 'Owen West'. For books by the former Marine major, go here.
More about Owen West...

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