Opening Line: " Behind the wheel of the Ford Expedition, Amy Redwing drove as if she were immortal and therefore safe at any speed."
I read THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR for a book club challenge although admittedly it had been sitting on my TBR shelf for a couple of years. I was happy to finally find a reason to stop passing it over (in favour of vampire romance and testosterone filled Navy Seals) and get into a good horror novel. Unfortunately I now wished I’d left it sitting on the shelf because this was not in any way an enjoyable read and ultimately a real struggle to finish.
To start with I didn’t enjoy Koontz’s style of writing, he seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r and a whole lot of adjectives to get across what he was trying to say and I found myself skimming almost immediately just to get on with the story;
"The pleasantly warm morning was freshened by a breeze as light as a caress, and the feathery fronds of queen palms cast shadows that resembled the plumed tails of the Golden’s." Um, yeah.
For something in the horror genre I also found this to be very un-scary, the plot revolving more around reincarnation and weird feelings then anything truly horrifying. Thankfully the chapters were short containing several alternating POV’s, mostly involving hit men who all appeared to all be trying to kill each other. The main antagonist, Moongirl was a nasty piece of work and our hero Amy Redwing had an interesting past that slowly got revealed however I never really got a feel for her either. So I kept plugging along thinking this has to improve, Koontz is hugely popular, what am I missing? Well upon completion I came away rather underwhelmed and realized I wasn’t missing anything.
The only good thing in this story would have to be the Golden Retrievers which Koontz knows well and obviously loves. His dog descriptions and mannerisms of the breed were spot on. However I couldn’t in good conscience even recommend this book to dog lovers, because the story was so convoluted and just plain painful to read. Koontz also tended to get a little preachy when it came to describing abused dogs, euthanasia and puppy mills. I’m a dog owner and lover (That’s originally why I bought the book, for the dog on the cover) And I understood the message he was trying to get across but I didn’t need these facts thrown in my face every couple of chapters. I get it, puppy mills bad, adopt from the pound, move on.
I also didn't appreciate the storyline involving a 10 year old girl with Down syndrome who’s abused, called "Piggy" and threatened with being lit on fire. That was WAY out of my comfort zone. Although maybe meant to be the horror aspect I kept waiting for? In the end I just wanted this to be over.