In Innocence, Dean Koontz revisits a common theme throughout his writing, that of people living in isolation among us. Alienated from those who should be there to give comfort and support but instead are reviled and abused. Addison is a monster, grossly deformed though he is not embittered by the cruel treatment he has been subjected to. After his mother’s death, 8 year old Addison finds himself alone in the city and in an unbelievable stroke of luck finds another like himself who shows him how to live in the vast network of beneath the city. His appearance is so horrific Addison dares not come out in the light of day on one such nocturnal adventure he comes upon a girl being pursued by an attacker ending his days of solitude and loneliness.
He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen. She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found. But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.
With elements of Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, Innocence reads with a lyricism in keeping with its fairy tale like themes. Inspired by a dream featuring the now decreased Thomas Tryon, the author stated that Innocence sprang into his mind fully formed. Personally I found Innocence reminded me somewhat of his incredibly popular work Watchers only a more fully matured version with a credibility that the former lacked in my opinion.
The cozy yet fully functional subterranean refuge employed by Addison was also familiar to me. Though many of you wouldn’t remember the 1987 television series that featured Linda Hamilton of Terminator 2 fame and Ron Perlman, Beauty and the Beast, it was a favorite of mine. Seriously, don’t we all wish that we had a hidey hole tucked away deep in the bowels of the city with power and running water? Or is that just a side effect of mine having a preteen and precocious first grader? I am sure upon scrutiny the logistics of such a set up may not hold up but unlike Watchers, for me, the mental comparisons I made when reading Innocence were largely favorable despite his somewhat precious moniker. Truly, it was an uncommon feat not to hold a grudge after a mob tries to burn you to death then to name your character Goodheart was a bit heavy handed. Regardless of Addison’s surname, almost incongruous in its suitability, Innocence is a enjoyable read gently reminding us all to look deeper rather than accepting the first impression as gospel.
AUTHOR: Dean Koontz
RATING: 3 1/2 Stars
Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.
- Dean Koontz on His Strange New Supernatural Thriller Innocence (wired.com)
- Dean Koontz ‘Innocence’ Review (horrornovelreviews.com)
- A grace of softness in a hard world: Reviewing Dean Koontz’s novel “Innocence” (patheos.com)