Dean Koontz is best known as a master thriller/horror writer, but in Innocence, one of three books released by him this year, he gives readers a love story.
Addison Goodheart is a man born with a facial defect so horrendous that the midwife who delivers him tries to smother him at birth, and anyone who lays eyes on him erupts in a rage and attempts to kill him. Turned out with only a backpack of food packed by a mother who is unable to care for him, eight-year-old Addison travels by night, his face covered by a hoodie and a scarf, until he arrives in an unnamed big city. When two men try to burn him to death, a man with the same affliction as Addison’s rescues him and takes him underground to the cozy home he’s established there. Addison lives with Father for 12 years—they refer to themselves as It and Son of It—until on a snowy night, Father is caught above ground and brutally murdered.
Jumping ahead six years, Addison, now 26, uses underground tunnels to enter his favorite haunts after hours. One night at the public library, he sees 18-year-old Gwyneth, a beautiful waif of a Goth girl, being chased by Ryan Telford, the curator of the library’s rare-book and arts collections. He’s guilty of not only stealing rare books from the library, but of murdering Gwyneth’s father with poisoned oleander honey. Telford tried to rape Gwyneth when she was 13 and intends to finish the job.
Still hiding behind hoodies and scarves, Addison strikes up a strange friendship with Gwyneth. She has a phobia to touching or being touched so Addison agrees never to touch her, and she agrees not to look at his horrific face. As Addison finds himself falling in love with this haunting girl, he knows he must do everything in his power to keep her out of Telford’s grasp.
A New York Times #1 author many times over, Koontz has given his legion of fans an enjoyable twist with this unique love story. A vein of spirituality and mysticism runs through the novel, something that often shows up in Koontz’s writings, and also a bit of fantasy—the marionettes that appear to follow Addison’s every move, and the Fogs and the Clears, creatures only Addison can see. Koontz blends the present and the past in alternating chapters so Addison’s early life is revealed alongside the present. An ebook prequel, Wilderness, was released in October.