First published back in January of 1990, Dean R Koontz’s novel ‘The Bad Place’ found itself standing on the shoulders of a long line of imaginative and challenging horror novels by this prolific and talented author. However, the book was to take Koontz further into a place whereby boundaries are only put up where the author’s imagination failed to wander.
After waking up in a dark alleyway with no recollection of how he got there, somewhere deep in Frank Pollard’s subconscious he knows he must flee and fast, for his life is at risk where he is. This amnesia follows him around like a cloak that hides his night-time world from his waking self. Each night Frank goes to sleep only to awaken the next morning with puzzling and disturbing signs of night-time activity upon his very person. Hopping from one sleazy motel to the next, Frank wakes covered in blood, with handfuls of money he cannot account for, or sometimes inexplicably (but far less disturbingly) coated in sand. Fearing the worst from these troubling night-time excursions, Frank enlists the help from the husband-wife private investigator team run by Bobby and Julie Dakota.
With hopes and plans of providing a more suitable and tranquil living-situation for Julie’s Down’s-Syndrome suffering brother Tommy, the couple decide to take on this puzzling job, both out of sheer curiosity as well as for the money it should bring in. The Dakota’s decide to watch over Pollard as he sleeps, in order to establish what the cause is of these bizarre waking revelations. However, what should be a simple case of watching over a possible sleep-walker, results in their first glimpse of the reality-adjusting events that take form during Frank’s slumber; revealing to them a horrifying first sight of who is hunting their client.
Now that the couple have been drawn into this dangerous situation, they begin delving into Frank’s past. Soon enough they discover that Frank, his psychotic brother Candy and his twin sisters Violet and Verbina, were all born as a result of a number of incestuous relationships. They learn that Frank’s mother was a hermaphrodite who impregnated herself. On top of this, her parents in turn were brother and sister. This compounded inbreeding ultimately created the Pollard siblings, who due to their unique genetic make-up have developed spectacular psychic abilities.
With the help of the Dakota’s and Julie’s powerfully psychic brother Tommy, Frank’s dramatic life is slowly beginning to reveal itself. And with each terrifying revelation, they learn more and more of the wondrous but deadly abilities of the Pollard family as well as the extents of Frank’s own previously un-realised powers.
The fight for survival is on, as Frank faces up to the predator that has stalked him through time itself. An assailant whose life shares a juxtaposition with that of Frank’s and who will stop at nothing to either bring him back, or if needs be, kill him. The fight for survival will go on to epic proportions as it spirals towards the ultimate and final confrontation...
From the outset, Koontz delivers a vividly sculpted tale of multiple layers of truly magnificent proportions. The elaborate and carefully inter-woven storyline flows with an obvious determination from the start, until its ultimate and inevitable finale.
The characters that play out their own unique roles within this dramatic and imaginatively over-the-top fantasy-horror tale quickly become likeable with their somewhat over-emphasised characteristics and loveable charm. The eccentric qualities of each member of the Pollard family are an enjoyable added level to the construction of the storyline.
Koontz utilises a magnificently unrestricted imagination with a storyline that limbos beneath boundaries of common-place reality as if there was never any need for such restraints. Such a no-holds-barred approach to the incorporation of the writer’s imagination shines with a quality similar to that of Clive Barker fiction. Indeed, the further Koontz allows his characters to travel through the relative unknown of a world without normal constraints, the further he in turn seems to be spurred on to map out an even wilder journey for the reader to follow.
However complicated and wildly elaborate the storyline becomes, Koontz maintains a careful reign on its progress, allowing for a very deliberate and exciting storyline that keeps itself on track when no track appears to be visible.
The multi-layered storyline must at some point draw towards its ultimate conclusion, and with that, Koontz throws in all he's got with an epic final confrontation that sits perfectly with the limitless exploits set down thus far. With a final salute to the surreal crescendos that had burst their way into the story during this monstrous finale, Koontz wraps up the tale with what must have been a very satisfied final smirk.
The novel runs for a total of 500 pages.
© DLS Reviews