Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)

Not only am I ranking my Top 20 Horror Movies for you this October, but I'm doing likewise with the scary books that I hold near and dear.  As with the movies that I'm discussing in that Top 20, I'm not attempting to rank these novels based on their place in pop culture, but rather their place in my heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Seriously, there are some fine books that didn't make the cut here because there just wasn't room, and there are definitely some well-regarded books that didn't make the cut because I don't really like them.  That also means there are some personal favorites of mine on this list that you may not have heard of.  If that's the case, I promise that I'll reward your trust with a gnarly tale if you give one of them a spin.  Finally, I may have shortchanged some of the titans in the genre (hey there, Stephen King) as I didn't want to overload this list with titles by the same author, though Uncle Stevie did manage to score three direct hits on my list.

The list thus far:

#20) Amok by George Fox (from 1980) 
#19) Manstopper by Douglas Borton (from 1988)

Top 20 Horror Novels - #18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)
Intensity is the perfect title for this razor-sharp thriller that is guaranteed to scare readers senseless.  Koontz weaves a tight web throughout, thrusting readers into one of his most impressive tales and keeping things red hot until a brilliant climax.  This 1995 effort is one of my favorite books by this author and it may be the finest example of his talent; the premise is relatively simple, but the characterizations, the pacing, and (most importantly) the execution are all sensational.  The heroine, one Chyna Shepard, is gutsy and likable, and as she is pushed to her limit and beyond, it becomes easier and easier to root for her.  Edgler Vess, the villain of the piece, is frightening and calculating in equal measures.  Vess is well-drawn, a curious serial killer with an ample dose of humanity who remains scary enough to stand as an embodiment of unadulterated evil.  These engaging characters spend the entire book engaged in a nerve-rattling game of cat and mouse that makes Intensity damn near impossible to put down.  Though I have often lamented Koontz books for failing to deliver the goods in the conclusion, this one features a worthy ending that underscores the quality of the story.  In short, if you're looking for a horror novel that can scare your socks off without any supernatural elements, you can't go wrong with Intensity.

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