The Darkest Evening of the Year
Author: Dean Koontz
I picked out the audiobook version of this Dean Koontz novel from my local library's online site. I expected Dean Koontz creepiness with the added plus of a sentient wonderful dog (something Koontz has done well before). The basic plot sounded like something I would really enjoy. The Basics: Amy Redwing runs a Golden Retriever Rescue group. She is dedicated to saving as many Goldens as she can. She is soft-spoken, yet firm, enabling her to negotiate with irresponsible owners who need to turn over their dogs to her. One night, accompanied by her boyfriend Brian, she risks her life to rescue Nickie from a drunk, violent man. Nickie is a special dog and her rescue sends ripples through Amy and Brian's lives, bringing to light all their secrets and putting them on a shared path to a thrilling end.
What I liked about this book -- I love dogs. I have 4 rescue dogs and they are the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful souls. I enjoyed the way the Amy felt about her dogs and how the dogs were portrayed as family members and companions. I also enjoyed the ideas Koontz conveyed about the ability of dogs to comfort and help heal traumatized children and adults, too.
The audiobook was well-read by Kirsten Kairos. I have hearing loss, but was able to easily hear and understand everything. At times, because of my hearing, I have a difficult time with audiobooks read by women. I'm not sure why.....maybe it's the higher pitch of female voices? Not sure. But, I didn't have that problem this time.
What I didn't like -- a portion of the plot is about an abused Down Syndrome child. I found these portions of the book very, very difficult to listen to. In fact, at one point, hearing about how her abusive mother spit into her child's food and then tried to trick her into eating it almost made me throw up. It wasn't just abuse....it was incredibly horrific psychological abuse. I just found it so reprehensible I almost gave up on this book. That sort of abuse done to an innocent child, especially one with the innocent love of a Down Syndrome child, was horror -- but not the sort I wanted to listen to. I stuck it out though because I wanted to find out if the child was saved at the end. But be prepared -- this book is not for the feint of heart. The child's mother is disgusting, vile and evil. Truly a villain and the descriptions of how she treats her little girl, her lovers, and innocent people around here are graphic.
I also had a hard time with some of the dialogue and descriptive passages. Koontz piles on adjectives and weird flowery descriptions and metaphors for things. Once in awhile a bit of over-exuberant description is okay....but when it's constant, after a few chapters it just starts to get a little cheesy. I'm not sure what to call it..... over-writing, perhaps? Some of the sentences were like entries in a bad writing contest. The dialogue pulled me out of the story several times because it just got ridiculous. Characters were saying things in flowery, over-stated language that no person would ever use in conversation. It came off as extremely melodramatic.
I did finish the book. The story was ok. The dogs were the best part of the whole thing. :) The plot was a bit over-done....melodramatic, unrealistic and just weird at times. Now I realize most horror novels are weird and not realistic....this book was just annoyingly so. I had a hard time buying into the story. Just too much. Too cheesy. And some of it was just disturbing in a grotesque way. I guess just had a hard time with the severe child abuse depicted in the story. I wish I had picked another Koontz book. I chose this one because the blurb sounded intriguing. I have enjoyed Koontz's books in the past....but this one just left me feeling flat and a bit traumatized. I really wanted to jump into the book, rescue the Down Syndrome girl and just punch her mother in the face until she fell over. GRRRRR.
I'm going read a some lighter, happy books and then come back and try another Koontz novel. This book was just not my cup of tea.