Desert Isle Keeper
When you think romance, Dean Koontz probably isn’t a name that springs to mind right away, but I find many of his books deeply romantic. The first Koontz book I ever read was Watchers and I was very moved by the tender romance between the loner Travis Cornell and Nora Devon, who thinks of herself as ugly and unlovable. Koontz may be shelved in horror, but he has a warmly romantic touch to all his books that I’ve read so far.
One of Dean Koontz’s most popular books is Odd Thomas, which so far has spawned two sequels; there may be a fourth book in the works. Odd (yes that is his name) is 20-years-old and works as a fry cook in the small town of Pico Mundo. To look at him you wouldn’t think there was anything unusual about this quiet young man, but Odd has secrets. He can see dead people. Not only can he see them, but he can sense their emotions (they do not speak), and discover their stories. Odd tries to help the dead overcome whatever lingering emotional tie keep them bound to earth (he’s currently trying to help Elvis Presley). Communication with the dead is not the only of Odd’s talents; he also is able to see nasty creatures that slink around a site where they are attracted by an aura of incipient violence. Odd calls these creatures bodachs, and when he sees them he knows something terrible will happen, but not what or when.
Very few of Odd’s friends in Pico Mundo know about his ability to see the dead. One who does is police chief Wyatt Porter, who is a father figure to him (his own family is dysfunctional – to put it mildly). But the only person who knows all of Odd’s secrets is Bronwyn “Stormy” Llewellyn, the love of his life and his soulmate. One evening a Gypsy fortuneteller predicted they would be together forever. They believe it with all their hearts.
As the book begins, life in Pico Mundo is about to change drastically. A stranger whom Odd refers to as “fungus man” has been eating at the diner. The man is surrounded by more bodachs than Odd has ever seen before – something terrible is about to happen in Pico Mundo and Odd and his friends need to find out what is going to happen before there’s a mass killing.
Odd Thomas is fast moving, taunt and often funny. And the characters! Oh, the characters! The word unforgettable gets tossed around a lot, but Odd Thomas really is an unforgettable character. He is not an anti-hero, or a postmodern guy dripping irony from every pore. Odd is good. He is kind, gentle, humble, and aware that his unusual gift sets him apart from most other people, so he tries to use it to do as much good as he can. In an interview with Koontz that was published in the National Catholic Register, Koontz mentioned that a friend of his told him he thought the Odd Thomas books were the story of a saint, and there’s a lot of truth truth to that.
For romance fans, the love story between Odd and Stormy is a sweet and bittersweet one. Stormy has had her share of trauma in the past, but she is loving and resilient and as deeply devoted to Odd as he is to her. They say they are soulmates – and they are indeed. The last couple of chapters aren’t just two-hanky reads; you’ll need a warehouse of hankys for them and they are so heart touching, it may take you a couple of days to read them.
There are very few books that snare me from the first word, and this is one of them. It’s also one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to and I envy the reader who is meeting Odd Thomas, Stormy Llewellyn, Chief Porter, Little Ozzie, Terrible Chester, Elvis Presley and the other inhabitants of Pico Mundo (both alive and ghostly) for the first time. While neither Forever Odd or Brother Odd is quite as memorable as Odd Thomas, they are both excellent and well worth a read.