This isn’t a review of 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz, but rather a review of the bonus novella (The Moonlit Mind) inside the paperback edition of the book. I already owned a hardback edition of 77 Shadow Street when the mass-market paperback came out. Because of the 137-page bonus novella that’s inside it, I decided to put out the money for the paperback, and not a penny of it was wasted. The Moonlit Mind is one of Dean Koontz’ best pieces of fiction, and he’s written some damn good novels over the last few decades, including What the Night Knows and Odd Apocalypse.
At the heart of the novella is Crispin, a nine-year-old boy, who barely escapes death at the hands of his mother, Clarette, and his rich step father, Giles Gregorio. Crispin’s younger brother, Harley, and baby sister, Mirabel, had already disappeared by the time his parents come for him. Fortunately, he’s smart enough to understand what’s going on and manages to elude death by sheer cunning and unbelievable courage.
Running from Theron Hall, the estate on top of Shadow Hill (this isn’t far from the apartment complex where 77 Shadow Street takes place), Crispin begins to live on the streets and does so for three years. At times he encounters his parents in the city, who are still searching for him. You see, he’s a loose end, plus they still need him for their satanic ritual. Through a series of miracles, along with the aid of a very smart dog that he names Harley, after his younger brother, Crispin manages to survive and to become tough for his young age. He also has the help of Amity, the Phantom of Broderick’s, an older girl who was nearly murdered when a killer butchered her entire family. She understands what Crispin has gone through and acts like his older sister whenever he comes to Broderick’s department store to seek her company. She worked in Broderick’s during the day and lived there (unbeknownst to management) during the night in order to feel safe.
In time, however, Crispin will have to return to Theron Hall and settle business. He wants revenge for the murder of his siblings, and he’s determined to get it one way or another. That means a final confrontation with the evil that took his brother and sister away.
The Moonlit Mind reminded me somewhat of Odd Apocalypse in that Theron Hall is much like the Roseland estate that’s owned by Noah Wolfaw. The place is huge and seems to be growing all the time with endless hallways and countless rooms. Also, its staff seems friendly on the surface, but beneath the thin veneer are monsters who only want to see you dead. They cater to the children there and pretend to love them, while all the time preparing for the moment when a knife will be driven into each child’s heart.
Let me just say that Crispin and his dog, Harley, are fantastic characters, much like Odd Thomas and Christopher Snow. You want to travel along with them on their journey through life, and discover what strange adventures they get in and out of. By the time the story is finished, you feel as if you know the boy and his dog.
The character of Amity is addictive, too. She’s smart, resourceful, a survivor, and tries to be prepared for anything coming her way. She has clearly endured the most horrible of hardships, knowing if she dares to use her own name, the killer of her family will find her and destroy her once and for all.
Together, these two kids make a fine pair that’s worthy of a much longer book. Hint, hint, Dean!
I hope The Moonlit Mind is just the beginning of a new series by Dean Koontz, starring Crispin, Amity, and Harley. And, less I forget, Crispin’s parents are still out there, searching for him as the killer of Amity’s family is waiting patiently for another encounter with her. This could be the beginning of a great novel for the near future. I would love to see them come back for another visit. Highly recommended.