Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

WILDERNESS by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz Wilderness

Wilderness is the latest short story from prolific author, Dean Koontz, and it serves as an advertisement to his newest novel, Innocence. From what I’ve seen of the new book, and this short story, Koontz is performing a riff on The Beauty and the Beast.

The words in the short story are beautiful and lyrical, as Koontz has been writing lately. The language can be hard to get into at times, though. In the story, deer are referred to as “whidding” through the forest. I’ve got a pretty big vocabulary, but I admit I had to look that one up. Whidding, according to (the word wasn’t even listed in the dictionary provided with the Kindle app), means “to move quickly and quietly.” It’s a cool word, all right, but it took me right out of the story.

The main character remains pretty much a cipher even after reading all 30 pages (length according to the Amazon listing). There’s some detail of a facial deformity that makes young Addington Goodheart’s mother chase him out of their cabin in the woods for days at a time. Since he’s eight years old in the story and was getting chased out of the house for longer than that, I don’t have much sympathy for her.

I also don’t much care for the way we never get introduced to said deformity. Addington would have seen his own reflection, and he would have known ways he was different from his mother when it comes to features. We aren’t given that information, and that makes me wonder how long we’ll have to wait to get to it in the novel.

This story is short piece of suspense. Addington is chased by a poacher who, from his own admission, is a killer, though we don’t know why. And the guy considers Addington to be an abomination, though we aren’t given any of the details. Of course, since the novel is about Addington, any suspense regarding his survival is already off the table.

I enjoyed the brief tale and my appetite for the coming novel is suitably whetted. Koontz does some heavy-handed stuff regarding announcing that novel in this short story, but since it was more or less fluff out a few weeks before the novel, it’s almost like paying for the advertising yourself.

Koontz is an excellent writer, but I would have enjoyed a true stand-alone story or something from Addington’s life that had more gravitas.

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