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The Funhouse

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  21,238 ratings  ·  625 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 she could never love. A child so monstrous that she killed it with her own hands…Twenty-five years later, Ellen Harper has a new life, a new husband, and two normal children—Joey loves monster movies, and Amy is about to graduate from high school ...more
Paperback, 333 pages
Published June 1994 by Berkley Books (first published January 1st 1980)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,238 ratings  ·  625 reviews

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Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, novel
Creepy fun, in the right way!


I had so much "fun" with this book (pun intended).

But it was a creepy fun indeed!

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...

Edward Lorn
May 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
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
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
Karl Marberger
Mar 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Pretty cringey. Poorly written. A swing and a miss.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 02, 2015 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.
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
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
Hunter Shea
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of the movie The Funhouse, this interpretation of the screenplay that Koontz wrote before it came out is an interesting companion piece.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible, horror
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Goodreads Horror Week 2018

I thought this was an ok book. It became very good vs evil, God vs. satan. The end was a bit to quick and easy for my taste. There was a great buildup, then....that's it? Ah well, still a decent read worthy of 3 stars.
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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
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.
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 cha
Jun 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror
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
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this is the first dean koontz book I've read after a lot of people recommended him to be a great author ~ I can confirm I loved this book 😊 it was gripping right from the beginning I didn't want to put the book down I am impressed and I will be reading more books by dean koontz!!
A.C. Thompson
Aug 21, 2014 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
Circa Girl
Sep 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror, didn-t-finish
I adore the campy film this is a novelization of, but just 96 pages in, I'm already hating the out of left field motivations and backgrounds Koontz is tacking on to Ellen, Amy, and the Carnival barker. The overbearing, creepy religious overtones and unplanned pregnancy don't fit at all with what I recall of the film's atmosphere and themes. Also, is it necessary to have the funhouse monster be related in some way to Amy or her family to make it creepy? Isn't it better not to know too much when f ...more
Misty Harms
Aug 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror
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.
Nov 09, 2011 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
I need to make a new Goodreads bookshelf: Horror/Supernatural/Slasher/teen religious and sexual angst. I thought only movies achieved that level of silliness?

Cool story with a really boring ending that resolves only the immediate problem: Funhouse Monsters. I demand MORE Mr. Koontz. I already had 3 awesome endings imagined before I got there. Yours wouldn't have made my top 25. Seriously buddy? Or were you more focused on teen porn?
Of course, maybe Dean Koontz didn't write this. It does mention
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.
Kimberly Sexton
May 29, 2014 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
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Like the 80's horror movie of the same name, cheesy and wonderful!
Sep 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am sitting here completely unable to summon the right words to effectively convey how very, very awful this book was.

The movie version of "The Funhouse" is a quick, dumb slasher flick about a group of thirty year old teenagers trapped in a carnival funhouse with a homicidal maniac. I hate-read through over 200 pages of this adaptation, often only able to choke down a page or two each day, determined to make it at least as far as that golden set up. Those kids finally made it to the funhouse on
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
Susan Mackie Powers
Jan 01, 2017 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
Dec 19, 2014 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
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“In the sheeting rain that was now laced with tendrils of fog, the dark Ferris wheel thrust up like a prehistoric skeleton, weird, mysterious, its familiar lines obscured and distorted and made fantastic by the night and the mist.”

The Funhouse weaves the terrifying and, at times, gruesome into the joyful bright lights and thrilling rides of a carnival. Elena could no longer stand the strict rules that her mother gave her. She decides to run away with the carnival and the man she
Shelby Moreland
May 08, 2013 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 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
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Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean, the author of many #1 New York Times bes

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