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Phantoms - Dean Koontz

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Author: Dean Koontz / Genre: Horror

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    6 Reviews
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      17.03.2011 14:06
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      Scares and paranormal, if you like horror then this is right up your street.

      Phantoms is a terrifying story. The small town of Snowfield falls victim to an evil force. Almost everyone has disappeared and those that remain are not only dead, but have been horribly mutilated. It's the kind of monster story that speaks to the imagination. It smacks very much of a Hollywood slasher movie at times but with far more depth in the people that we meet.

      The main characters are the Paige sisters who discover the town in its current state, the local sheriff as the male hero, and in a slightly smaller role but not any less important, a scholar who unravels the truth. There are many extra characters, each very interesting, but the attention mostly remains on the mystery and the action. Koontz is often labelled as a horror author, but for this book that's actually true for a change.

      Koontz never really picks a definitive point of view to tell this story. The two leading roles are Jenny Paige and the sheriff, but many other characters get their own scenes. As always Koontz writes his characters so well, in fact a lot of them you kind of feel like you've read about them before in other stories.

      The monsters are terrificly portrayed and the small town described really feels like a place you could imagine quite easily somewhere in remote parts of the US.

      As a scary horror novel, Phantoms delivers. Rather dark, filled with terror, a small group of common good people pitted against a seemingly invincible evil. All characters have their own background and motivation, but experienced readers might miss that extra inch of depth.

      To sum up, I enjoyed this novel and it was written in Koontz's best years. There are a lot worse Koontz books out there but also a lot better. As a pure horror novel it's as scary as Koontz gets though and, in that respect, if you've come for scares then you'll like this one.

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      02.11.2005 20:18
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      Attention grabbing right from the start

      This is the first Koontz book I ever read and it lead to an obsession with his books that has lasted 13 years and one that I fully expect to last for as long as he keeps publishing.

      The story grabs the readers attention immediately, 2 short, brief screams and a young deputy , bored and lonely on the nightshift, suddenly discovering he is no longer alone and bored.

      The story switches to Doctor Jenny Paige and her young sister Lisa arriving in the small, silent town of Snowfield, California and discovering that the usually quiet town appears dead. Further investigation leads to the discovery that the entire population is dead, from no visible means and in some cases no means of entry. They eventually make contact with the outside world and the sheriffs department and various experts gather in the now quarantined town to discover the mystery of the sudden deaths.

      More deaths follow and a theory is discovered that the killer is an ancient and deadly enemy that was responsible for several mysterious disappearances throughout the history of Earth. Contact is made with the ancient enemy and the race to discover the way to defeat it and free the survivers ensues.

      This novel left me looking over my shoulder more than once, reading frantically into the night in my haste to finish it and find out if the enemy was defeated or remained victorious. A very well written book with an awesome enemy from the imagination of the author but an enemy that maybe, just maybe could be real and could explain several well documented historial mass disappearances.

      As is common with Koontz's book the ending is sudden and leaves me feeling somewhat disappointed. However, the beginning and middle of the book are more than enough to overlook this and I would recommend anyone that enjoys horror to read this book. I have read it more than once and even though I know what to expect, I still feel chilled reading it and half expect something to be behind me just waiting...

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        05.09.2003 15:12
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        ?Gruesome and unrelenting ? I couldn?t let it alone until I was done? said Stephen King, the master of horror himself, of this book. Such praise from a man of such stature in the horror world was a special endorsement and indicated that this Koontz book just might impress. Jenny Paige is a doctor in a small isolated American town. She is bringing home her 14 year old sister, Lisa, to live with her after the death of their mother. When they arrive at the town, Snowfield, everything seems eerily silent; there are no signs of life on the streets, no one in the cafes or shops and even the song of birds or the barking of dogs is absent. When they enter Jenny?s house they discover the body of her housekeeper who seems to have only died recently and yet her body is swollen, distended and every inch is covered with bruises. Upon discovering that the phone is out of order they go next door to borrow the neighbours? only to find more bodies. Could this be some hideous plague? This theory seems unlikely when they discover the heads of the owners of the bakery peering at them through the glass doors of their ovens and a pair of disembodied hands clutching a rolling pin on the work surface. The local sheriff is called in and he and his men enlist the help of the Civil Defence Unit from the military. They investigate possibilities such as nerve gas attack, infectious diseases or biological agents but it seems that something even stranger is at work. The investigators find that their own lives are in danger as they themselves are picked off and killed in various gruesome ways. The entity that is threatening them seems to be comprised of an amorphous blob of matter that is able to take on the shape of whatever it pleases. They must find a way to defeat this creature before it kills them all. The early stages of the book are tense and suspenseful as we follow Jenny and Lisa?s foray into the seemingly deserted town. Silen
        ce and the threat of impending attack combine to give our heroines and the reader a good dose of the heebie jeebies. We wonder what lurks behind each door and what fate might await our women. This is scary and nail-biting stuff. As the authorities arrive things should become more settled but we soon discover that they too are vulnerable and a greater dread fills us, as we understand that even highly trained armed men are not safe from this threat. The nature of the deaths also adds to the scare factor. Many of the bodies have a look of absolute terror emblazoned on their faces and some are found dead in locked rooms. What could have scared them so much and how could they have been vulnerable when barricaded within a secure area? Our fears increase for our heroes as the depth of their predicament becomes clear. The entity itself that is wreaking its evil blood lust on the town is an amalgam of characteristics typical to the horror genre. Firstly it seems to have a great intelligence of its own and what can be scarier than an enemy that may be more cunning than its intended victim? How can it be outsmarted? Secondly it is comprised of this strange blob-like mass. Upon learning this I was reminded of the film ?The Blob?. Does anyone remember this? As I read Koontz?s book my head was filled with the ludicrous theme tuned with its music reminiscent of the melody of ?I Dream of Genie?, not so much in its substance but in its irritating gaiety and the words ?Beware the blob. It creeps and leaps and slides across the floor? sing-songed constantly through my mind! However, Koontz?s writing skills were such that despite my wandering attention I still found the book gripping and scary. Thirdly this amorphic mass has the ability to take on the shape of any being that it has destroyed. This was very reminiscent of the ability displayed by the villain in ?Terminator 2?. However, despite the fact that we have seen this
        shape changing trick before it is none the less frightening and the knowledge that the villain can disguise itself as a trustworthy or harmless being makes us suspect everything and everyone. Our band of heroes and heroines are likeable and we certainly fear for their safety. Jenny is gutsy, as is her young sister and we empathise with them and admire their strength. Our sheriff is tough, has a deep sense of responsibility and yet has a soft side to his nature, having suffered loss of his own in the death of his wife in a vehicle accident. They form a likeable team and we find it easy to hope that they can defeat this creature. It is inevitable that some of the sheriff?s men and the military agents must become food for the monster, so that we can be horrified by their deaths and fear for what may follow. Koontz makes gives some of these characters flaws so that although we are disgusted by their brutal murders, we do not grieve for their passing. One policeman is clearly misogynistic, another paranoid and one more cowardly. Therefore, we can observe their deaths with abject revoltion and horror but without any real sense of loss. Koontz has come across another winning formula with this book. The heroes are likeable and the setting isolated and vulnerable. The tension slowly mounts and crescendos and the deaths are gruesome, the future chilling. There is plenty of suspense and Koontz tantalises us with a ray of hope that our heroes may just be able to come out alive but only if they are clever enough to be engineers of their own destiny. Stephen King was right; this is gruesome and unrelenting and I, like him, could not put the book down and read all 400 pages in just one day. If you decide to turn that front page and start to read I predict that you will find it just as gripping. OTHER INFO Publisher: W H Allen & Co, Hill Street, London Price: £6.99 ISBN: 0-352-31437-0

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          24.07.2001 03:15
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          Firstly, I have to say that if you like horror/thriller books then read on because this is one book you won't want to miss! Secondly, if you have never read a Koontz book before then this would be an ideal read - it'll show you his writing style at its best, and you'll be left wanting to read his other books! I have read quite a few Koontz books over the years and actually prefer his writing style to that of Stephen King. Why? For the simple reason that his books seem to get my attention 100%, and I find myself totally absorbed by the plot - I cannot put his books down! Stephen King is more well known, especially as a lot of his books have been made into films, but this does not make his books more enjoyable. They are enjoyable in a different way - I like reading them so I can compare them to the films, I like reading them because they have a good solid plot, but I do find that one of Stephen King's downfalls is his overuse of description at times. I have found some of his books to contain chunks of boring unnecessary description that detracts from the thrill of the plot. Koontz books seem to really grip me - I become totally involved in the book, and 'have to finish it'. So now that I have introduced the author by telling you why I prefer him to King, let me tell you about this book. I came across it in a shop on Friday - a shop that sells antique furniture and old books. It was a bargain at £1.00 - who was I to complain! I started reading it on the train on my way home...the fun starts right from the beginning! This book has such a thrilling plot that you will find yourself getting through it at an amazing pace! I finished it last night and it is fantastic. The story centres around a small town called Snowville up in the mountains of California. Jenny, the local doctor, has just been to pick up her younger sister Lisa. It is time they get to know each other - their father had died years ag
          o and their mother quite recently. Jenny has never really known her sister - she has been so involved in her career over the years that she hardly had time to go back home and visit. Now she realises that she is all that Lisa has left, so she arranges for her to stay with her in the mountains for a while. As they drive into the town they both realise that it is looking very quiet. It's a Sunday evening and normally there are people walking around, driving their cars - the normal things. But there is no one to be seen. Jenny and Lisa joke that there must be some wicked program on the TV, and they think nothing more about it. When they pull up outside the house they take all the suitcases inside and shout for the housekeeper. She doesn't answer. They go into the kitchen where they find her dead on the floor. Except she looks terrible. Her skin is so badly bruised and her body bloated, and yet she is still warm. She must have died very recently. With no sign of foul play and no explanation of the bruising - Jenny begins to wonder if this has something to do with the entire town being so silent. The telephone doesn't work so she goes next door to use theirs. But no one is home next door. She cannot find anyone anywhere! And as they search the town they find other bodies, and things that they could never have even imagined. Something has 'captured' this small town in the mountains - it appears at first to be some kind of plague or biological weapon, but all is not as it seems. Need I say more? This is one book that you won't be able to put down. It grips you right at the start and doesn't let you go until you turn the final page. Enjoy.

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            17.08.2000 09:02

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            From the first page it catches you attention then holds it to the very last page.On the first page, you are taken to a small out-of-the-way town in northern California, called Snowfield. Here, Jenny Paige, the doctor, goes home to find her house keeper...Dead. a sheriff from a close town, there to help, calls for backup, and asks for 500 bodie bags.The mystery of what happened to the town of Snowfield is one that keeps the reader interested, but the creature that finally turns out to be the culprit is a bit vague. No definite conclusions are drawn at the end of the book, which is somewhat of a let down. The events leading up to the end were actually more exciting than the conclusion itself, so the book was somewhat anticlimactic. Despite this, the book was, all and all very good.For more psychological thrillers you should continue reading Koontz books. I would recommend: Lightning, The Funhouse, Face of Fear, Intensity, Mr. Murder, Midnight.

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            27.07.2000 21:28
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            A doctor and her younger sister arrive home, to find her housekeeper dead on the floor, her whole body covered in bruises. Further investigation reveals that the whole town is either dead or missing. Dead bodies are even found inside locked rooms. Police and scientists are called in and some kind of gas or virus is suspected, but does that account for the bodies that have been decapitated? and what about the giant moths, strange puddles of water, guns that have been fired, yet not a single bullet can be found, eeirie phonecalls and voices from the drains? This is one of the best horror books I have ever read. The reason it is so good, is that it is so believable. The whole thing, though unlikely, is not impossible, and quite competently explains every mass disappearance in history! Enough said, read this excellent book and discover for yourself!

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