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on 2 May 2014
Dean Koontz is one of my favourite horror writers, I find his books easier to read than Stephen King as Koontz seems to make a point to keep is plots quiet neat and relatively uncomplicated. Focusing instead on his characters. Phantoms is another triumph for Dean Koontz. This book definitely reminded me of the the greatest Dean Koontz book ever , "Watchers". Dean Koontz's interest in scientific research and it's possibilities are a solid theme in this book and the characters beautifully written as usual, with flaws and vulnerabilities that encourage the readers intimacy with them. Even the necessary "Baddie" pulls moments of empathy from the reader which seem to make any inevitable nefarious actions all the more horrific. With many of Dean Koontz's more recent books I would only recommend them to die hard Koontz and King fans, but in the case of Phantoms I would recommend to all readers with a taste for horror. I have yet to find a Koontz book that rivals Watchers, however Phantoms does hit the spot quite nicely. The book left me feeling a little pensive and thinking "what if?"... But sadly no dogs in this one. I hope you enjoy.
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on 14 August 1999
It was a while ago that I read this book but I remember it being the best horror book I've ever read. It really gripped me from the first few pages and I just felt compelled to keep reading. The story was enough to send a chill down you're spine while you read (unlike other horror books I've read). All in all I highly recommend this book to horror fans.
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on 13 March 2001
I saw the film and without realising i bought the book. If i thought the film was creepy, the book is terrifying. Koontz's descriptions makes you feel as if you are there or if he's is telling the story from experience. If you like horror and want to try a Koontz book then this should be the first you try.
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on 22 June 2010
This was the first Dean Koontz novel I read, but it remains in my eyes his best (Twilight Eyes and Mr Murder coming a joint second). For two young women to turn up to a town where all the inhabitants have suddenly disappeared is at first unnerving and then terrifying as more detail is slowly revealed. It then steps up a notch when the cavalry arrive (the sherriff and deputies) and you think well everything's going to be alright now. Oh boy how wrong you are! Then there's another sense of relief when the second cavalry arrives (the army and scientists this time!) and you think again that everything will be's not. The rising terror that is then abated to then rocket once more is a theme throughout this book. If you only ever read one Dean Koontz novel read this one.
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on 7 July 2005
"Writing PHANTOMS was one of the 10 biggest mistakes of my life, ranking directly above the incident with the angry porcupine and the clown, about which I intend to say nothing more."
- author's afterword, US paperback edition
Although Koontz wrote several books under pen names in the interim, PHANTOMS was the first book under his own name since WHISPERS. Since the publishing powers-that-be squawked whenever he produced a book differing from the previous book's perceived genre, he deliberately attempted a very different book from WHISPERS here. Ironically, PHANTOMS shackled him to the horror genre label for years to come.
PHANTOMS was meant to be an over-the-top horror story, with a full-blown monster but with a scientific explanation for everything that takes place. (Good luck working *that* out before the Big Exposition Scene, though.) Whether or not there are supernatural aspects to the monster, there are definitely scuzzy human villains littering the landscape. To crank up the tension, the story takes place in a very compressed timeframe once the action begins.
Drive-in totals (as Joe Bob Briggs, movie reviewer extraordinaire, would say)
- Small town? Check.
- Everybody missing except a handful of main characters? Check.
- Dismembered, mostly missing bodies, with occasionally body parts artistically planted where the characters have just passed through to add that special "we're being watched by a psycho" touch.
- Romance subplot, being Koontz.
Mind you, a lot of that would also apply to JURASSIC PARK, which didn't seem to be hurting any the last I knew. Still, if you read this one alone on a dark night, don't come crying to me if you can't sleep. You've been warned.
Not my cup of tea, but tastes differ.
Frankly, if Koontz didn't have extraordinarily bad luck with Hollywood (his plots generally seem to be dismembered in translation), I'd have expected this to make a successful film; Koontz tends to use lots of concrete visual imagery, which *ought* to simplify matters.
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on 17 May 2015
This is an amazing book by Dean Koontz. Certainly one of his best by a long way. The majority of his books are good and hugely entertaining. This is one of the best horror stories I have ever read.

Jenny Paige, a doctor and her sister Lisa drive back home into the small mountain town of Snowfield in Northern California, to find the entire population has vanished. Vanished, that is, apart from a few mutilated bodies that are lying around, and judging by the expression on their faces, killed before they had time to register what had come to kill them.

The build up is so extraordinarily good that I kept expecting it to dwindle out somewhere in the middle. It didn’t. Koontz ability to keep the tension racked up is astonishing; the steadiness of tension and dread never lets up. It’s not just a roller coaster of a read, it’s actually like being on the roller coaster. You know what’s coming next…and yet you don’t….You want to know what’s coming next…and yet you don’t.

When midway he introduced more characters, I thought it might just diminish the flow of horror, but even though they are all fundamentally different to the mainstream characters, and have a relatively complex interaction with them, it only served to keep the story alive instead of holding it back.

It’s one of his earlier books, written in the days before he had his well know love affair with super intelligent golden dogs - it has mystery, horror, gore, suspense, mythology, quasi religious undertones, science, and also draws on actual mysterious disappearances that have occurred throughout the centuries. It’s definitely up there with my other two favourite Koontz books: the mighty ‘Watchers’ and the soulful ”Odd Thomas’.

I have to say I would have liked the ending to be a little different, but that took nothing away from my enjoyment of it. The irony was not lost.

If you love a good down to earth horror story and coupled with maybe a few good old down to earth nightmares, then this is for you.
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on 28 June 2004
I've read horror on and off for years and I can't say that many horror books manage to scare me. This book is different. Koontz delivers characters that you actually care about, with depth and feeling and places them in a nightmare that has you wondering what could happen next and hoping that they will make it.
He is a wonderful writer and this is well worth reading even if horror is not your usual genre.
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on 10 September 2002
I never used to read much until I was given a huge pile of books from a friend who was going to throw them out - even then I didn't get round to reading any until one night nursing Insomnia I decided to read one - starting with Phantoms, I've got to say I loved it from the word go. Straight into the action and truly terrifying. I felt a bit stupid at first but it really is scary. However the ending isn't all that fascinating as the rest but still good. Full of twists and puzzles I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a god horror novel - well its got me started anyway!
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on 11 September 2013
Phantoms is readable and interesting but I felt it had been padded out to a ridiculous degree. Jenny and Lisa arrive in Snowfield, realise something is wrong, and spend many long pages exploring the town. Eventually the police arrive and re-trace Jenny's footsteps in painful and boring detail, not really discovering anything new or moving the plot forward.

The story doesn't really get moving until it's halfway through, and then the incidents are not particularly scary. There is no real tension in the book and for me there were a few too many police characters, so at times I couldn't remember who was who and I felt no real liking for any of them.

A highlight for me was the scene with the professor and the publicist in the London restaurant. It was very funny (probably helped by the fact that I got the audiobook version, and the narrator's attempt at an English accent was hilarious) and I wish more of the book had been like that.

Overall I don't regret buying it but I won't be re-reading and I wouldn't recommend it.
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on 3 March 2016
This had the potential to be a really great read. but fell way short. Great premise, small town everyone missing. it could have been so much better. It was predictable. The main characters were borderline annoying . The dialogue between them was cringe worthy at times but like a bad b movie you start watching at 1am for 5 mins you end up there at 3am regretting the fact you have to be up in 3 hours but you had to watch it even though you could have worked out the ending after 5 mins
I'm not giving it a positive review but yet went out of my way to find film they made of it. Terrific concept and back drop for a story. It was first published in 1983 and I think it shows in the dialogue. Pretty annoying for me but sure....
Sure look, Not the worst I have ever read, compelling enough to make me look forward to finishing it but at the same time wanted me to punch some of the character in the face.
if you're struggling to find something and you want a predictable horror thats not at all scary then you can give this a go
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