T.'s Reviews > Shadow Fires

Shadow Fires by Leigh Nichols
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Apr 04, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: horror, fiction
Read from April 03 to 05, 2010 — I own a copy

It's a story about chase, exhausted in all its forms: a woman runs away from her ex-husband, good cops go after mad men, haunted pasts attempt to wreck the present, a lunatic sweeps a trail of secrets, a monster flees from his humanity, and love pursues the probability of surviving despite the odds.

But I'm making it sound much better than it actually is -- this is one of my least liked works by Dean Koontz. The whole act of reading the book has become something of a quest in itself, of whether I can finish the story before I curl up and die with boredom.

It isn't so much as the foot race - if you map the locations they're pretty much banal - it's the elaborate attempt of the characters to explain themselves to me that is annoying. As a reader I'm inside their heads way too much: I have no opportunity to be excited, to try to guess what they must be feeling, to let my imagination roam free as to why they behave this way.

It's as if Koontz profiled his characters obsessively, and had a pressing need to put everything about them in the book, right down to their birth certificates. They're all a mess in my brain. Even minor characters get to have a back story just so their late heroic acts by the last few chapters can be justified.

What I wanted more of, and have appreciated in great detail, was how Eric has transformed from human to monster. It's gory and disgusting but also terribly, terribly fascinating to read about the dark pleasure of succumbing to the animal inside his body. His struggle over whether to walk like a man or slide on his belly and burrow somewhere deep is rock-solid delicious to read. I also like how he deviates from his logical plans and doesn't have control over hunger, lust, rage. A book exploring that is cause for awesomeness.

If only Koontz focused on this, instead of exalting Ben, whose white-knight image I could care less about, I'd be a satisfied reader. Ben is just fodder for the half-baked love story. I mean, c'mon - Rachel is a tough bitch, even when scared, and I bet you she can kill a monster, especially if it's her ex-husband come back from the dead. Lord knows, a divorce is good enough reason to want to chop off some balls.

I suppose I should be more forgiving, as Koontz wrote this novel in his early years under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols. So I'll give him plus points for ripping out Whitney's prosthetic leg and making him crawl out in the mud, with only one arm and one leg left.
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Reading Progress

04/04/2010 page 255
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Patrick Very well thought out review. I'm on page 345 and it seems like Koontz forgot all about Eric and would rather focus on Sharp and Peake


message 1: by T. (new) - rated it 2 stars

T. Yeah, I was disappointed with the character development there.


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