Odd Apocalypse (Odd Thomas Series #5)by Dean Koontz
The woman astride the ghostly mount reaches out desperately, the latest spirit to enlist the aid of Odd Thomas, the unassuming young/i>/i>
The stallion reared over me, silently slashing the air with the hooves of its forelegs, a creature of such immense power that I stumbled backward even though I knew that it was as immaterial as a dream. . . .
The woman astride the ghostly mount reaches out desperately, the latest spirit to enlist the aid of Odd Thomas, the unassuming young fry cook whose gift—or curse—it is to see the shades of the restless dead, and to help them when he can. This mission of mercy will lead Odd through realms of darkness he has never before encountered, as he probes the long-held secrets of a sinister estate and those who inhabit it.
Once presided over by a flamboyant Hollywood mogul during the Roaring ’20s, the magnificent West Coast property known as Roseland is now home to a reclusive billionaire financier and his faithful servants. And, at least for the moment, it’s also a port in the storm for Odd Thomas and his traveling companion, the inscrutably charming Annamaria, the Lady of the Bell. In the wake of Odd’s most recent clash with lethal adversaries, the opulent manor’s comforts should be welcome. But there’s far more to Roseland than meets even the extraordinary eye of Odd, who soon suspects it may be more hell than haven.
A harrowing taste of Roseland’s terrors convinces Odd that it’s time to hit the road again. Still, the prescient Annamaria insists that they’ve been led there for a reason, and he’s promised to do his best for the ghost on horseback. Just how deep and dreadful are the mysteries Roseland and her masters have kept for nearly a century? And what consequences await whoever is brave, or mad, enough to confront the most profound breed of evil? Odd only knows. Like his acclaimed creator, the irresistible Odd Thomas is in top-notch form—as he takes on what may well be the most terrifying challenge yet in his curious career.
ACCLAIM FOR DEAN KOONTZ AND HIS ODD THOMAS NOVELS
“This is Koontz working at his pinnacle, providing terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on Odd Thomas
“Supernatural thrills with a side of laughs.”—The Denver Post, on Brother Odd
“The nice young fry cook with the occult powers is Koontz’s most likable creation . . . candid, upright, amusing and sometimes withering.”—The New York Times
“An inventive . . . mix of suspense, whimsy and uplift. It’s refreshing to come across a character as good-hearted as Odd.”—The Washington Post
“If Stephen King is the Rolling Stones of novels, Koontz is the Beatles.”—Playboy
“Koontz is a master of melding the supernatural with the commonplace. [His] writing [crackles] with dry, tongue-in-cheek wit.”—The Boston Globe
“Heartfelt and provocative . . . a wonderfully rich and entertaining story.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Koontz gives his character wit, good humor, a familiarity with the dark side of humanity—and moral outrage.”—USA Today
Read an Excerpt
Near sunset of my second full day as a guest in Roseland, crossing the immense lawn between the main house and the eucalyptus grove, I halted and pivoted, warned by instinct. Racing toward me, the great black stallion was as mighty a horse as I had ever seen. Earlier, in a book of breeds, I had identified it as a Friesian. The blonde who rode him wore a white nightgown.
As silent as any spirit, the woman urged the horse forward, faster. On hooves that made no sound, the steed ran through me with no effect.
I have certain talents. In addition to being a pretty good short-order cook, I have an occasional prophetic dream. And in the waking world, I sometimes see the spirits of the lingering dead who, for various reasons, are reluctant to move on to the Other Side.
This long-dead horse and rider, now only spirits in our world, knew that no one but I could see them. After appearing to me twice the previous day and once this morning, but at a distance, the woman seemed to have decided to get my attention in an aggressive fashion.
Mount and mistress raced around me in a wide arc. I turned to follow them, and they cantered toward me once more but then halted. The stallion reared over me, silently slashing the air with the hooves of its forelegs, nostrils flared, eyes rolling, a creature of such immense power that I stumbled backward even though I knew that it was as immaterial as a dream.
Spirits are solid and warm to my touch, as real to me in that way as is anyone alive. But I am not solid to them, and they can neither ruffle my hair nor strike a death blow at me.
Because my sixth sense complicates my existence, I try otherwise to keep my life simple. I have fewer possessions than a monk. I have no time or peace to build a career as a fry cook or as anything else. I never plan for the future, but wander into it with a smile on my face, hope in my heart, and the hair up on the nape of my neck.
Bareback on the Friesian, the barefoot beauty wore white silk and white lace and wild red ribbons of blood both on her gown and in her long blond hair, though I could see no wound. Her nightgown was rucked up to her thighs, and her knees pressed against the stallion’s heaving sides. In her left hand, she twined a fistful of the horse’s mane, as if even in death she must hold fast to her mount to keep their spirits joined.
If spurning a gift weren’t ungrateful, I would at once return my supernatural sight. I would be content to spend my days whipping up omelets that make you groan with pleasure and pancakes so fluffy that the slightest breeze might float them off your plate.
Every talent is unearned, however, and with it comes a solemn obligation to use it as fully and as wisely as possible. If I didn’t believe in the miraculous nature of talent and in the sacred duty of the recipient, by now I would have gone so insane that I’d qualify for numerous high government positions.
As the stallion danced on its hind legs, the woman reached out with her right arm and pointed down at me, as if to say that she knew I saw her and that she had a message to convey to me. Her lovely face was grim with determination, and those cornflower-blue eyes that were not bright with life were nonetheless bright with anguish.
When she dismounted, she didn’t drop to the ground but instead floated off the horse and almost seemed to glide across the grass to me. The blood faded from her hair and nightgown, and she manifested as she had looked in life before her fatal wounds, as if she might be concerned that the gore would repel me. I felt her touch when she put one hand to my face, as though she, a ghost, had more difficulty believing in me than I had believing in her.
Behind the woman, the sun melted into the distant sea, and several distinctively shaped clouds glowed like a fleet of ancient warships with their masts and sails ablaze.
As I saw her anguish relent to a tentative hope, I said, “Yes, I can see you. And if you’ll let me, I can help you cross over.”
She shook her head violently and took a step backward, as if she feared that with some touch or spoken spell I might release her from this world. But I have no such power.
I thought I understood the reason for her reaction. “You were murdered, and before you go from this world, you want to be sure that justice will be done.”
She nodded but then shook her head, as if to say, Yes, but not only that.
Being more familiar with the deceased than I might wish to be, I can tell you from considerable personal experience that the spirits of the lingering dead don’t talk. I don’t know why. Even when they have been brutally murdered and are desperate to see their assailants brought to justice, they are unable to convey essential information to me either by phone or face-to-face. Neither do they send text messages. Maybe that’s because, given the opportunity, they would reveal something about death and the world beyond that we the living are not meant to know.
Anyway, the dead can be even more frustrating to deal with than are many of the living, which is astonishing when you consider that it’s the living who run the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Shadowless in the last direct light of the drowning sun, the Friesian stood with head high, as proud as any patriot before the sight of a beloved flag. But his only flag was the golden hair of his mistress. He grazed no more in this place but reserved his appetite for Elysian fields.
Approaching me again, the blonde stared at me so intensely that I could feel her desperation. She formed a cradle with her arms and rocked it back and forth.
I said, “A baby?”
She nodded but then shook her head.
Brow furrowed, biting her lower lip, the woman hesitated before holding out one hand, palm down, perhaps four and a half feet above the ground.
Practiced as I am at spirit charades, I figured that she must be indicating the current height of the baby whom she’d once borne, not an infant now but perhaps nine or ten years old. “Not your baby any longer. Your child.”
She nodded vigorously.
“Your child still lives?”
“Here in Roseland?”
Yes, yes, yes.
Ablaze in the western sky, those ancient warships built of clouds were burning down from fiery orange to bloody red as the heavens slowly darkened toward purple.
When I asked if her child was a girl or a boy, she indicated the latter.
Although I knew of no children on this estate, I considered the anguish that carved her face, and I asked the most obvious question: “And your son is . . . what? In trouble here?”
Yes, yes, yes.
Far to the east of the main house in Roseland, out of sight beyond a hurst of live oaks, was a riding ring bristling with weeds. A half-collapsed ranch fence encircled it.
The stables, however, looked as if they had been built last week. Curiously, all the stalls were spotless; not one piece of straw or a single cobweb could be found, no dust, as though the place was thoroughly scrubbed on a regular basis. Judging by that tidiness, and by a smell as crisp and pure as that of a winter day after a snowfall, no horses had been kept there in decades; evidently, the woman in white had been dead a long time.
How, then, could her child be only nine or ten?
Some spirits are exhausted or at least taxed by lengthy contact, and they fade away for hours or days before they renew their power to manifest. This woman seemed to have a strong will that would maintain her apparition. But suddenly, as the air shimmered and a strange sour-yellow light flooded across the land, she and the stallion—which perhaps had been killed in the same event that claimed the life of his mistress—were gone. They didn’t fade or wither from the edges toward the center, as some other displaced souls occasionally did, but vanished in the instant that the light changed.
Precisely when the red dusk became yellow, a wind sprang out of the west, lashing the eucalyptus grove far behind me, rustling through the California live oaks to the south, and blustering my hair into my eyes.
I looked into a sky where the sun had not quite yet gone down, as if some celestial timekeeper had wound the cosmic clock backward a few minutes.
That impossibility was exceeded by another. Yellow from horizon to horizon, without the grace of a single cloud, the heavens were ribboned with what appeared to be high-altitude rivers of smoke or soot. Gray currents streaked through with black. Moving at tremendous velocity. They widened, narrowed, serpentined, sometimes merged, but came apart again.
I had no way of knowing what those rivers were, but the sight strummed a dark chord of intuition. I suspected that high above me raced torrents of ashes, soot, and fine debris that had once been cities, metropolises pulverized by explosions unprecedented in power and number, then vomited high into the atmosphere, caught and held in orbit by the jet stream, by the many jet streams of a war-transformed troposphere.
My waking visions are even rarer than my prophetic dreams. When one afflicts me, I am aware that it’s an internal event, occurring only in my mind. But this spectacle of wind and baleful light and horrific patterns in the sky was no vision. It was as real as a kick in the groin.
Clenched like a fist, my heart pounded, pounded, as across the yellow vault came a flock of creatures like nothing I had seen in flight before. Their true nature was not easily discerned. They were larger than eagles but seemed more like bats, many hundreds of them, incoming from the northwest, descending as they approached. As my heart pounded harder, it seemed that my reason must be knocking to be let out so that the madness of this scene could fully invade me.
Be assured that I am not insane, neither as a serial killer is insane nor in the sense that a man is insane who wears a colander as a hat to prevent the CIA from controlling his mind. I dislike hats of any kind, though I have nothing against colanders properly used.
I have killed more than once, but always in self-defense or to protect the innocent. Such killing cannot be called murder. If you think that it is murder, you’ve led a sheltered life, and I envy you.
Unarmed and greatly outnumbered by the incoming swarm, not sure if they were intent upon destroying me or oblivious of my existence, I had no illusions that self-defense might be possible. I turned and ran down the long slope toward the eucalyptus grove that sheltered the guesthouse where I was staying.
The impossibility of my predicament didn’t inspire the briefest hesitation. Now within two months of my twenty-second birthday, I had been marinated for most of my life in the impossible, and I knew that the true nature of the world was weirder than any bizarre fabric that anyone’s mind might weave from the warp and weft of imagination’s loom.
As I raced eastward, breaking into a sweat as much from fear as from exertion, behind and above me arose the shrill cries of the flock and then the leathery flapping of their wings. Daring to glance back, I saw them rocking through the turbulent wind, their eyes as yellow as the hideous sky. They funneled toward me as though some master to which they answered had promised to work a dark version of the miracle of loaves and fishes, making of me an adequate meal for these multitudes.
When the air shimmered and the yellow light was replaced by red, I stumbled, fell, and rolled onto my back. Raising my hands to ward off the ravenous horde, I found the sky familiar and nothing winging through it except a pair of shore birds in the distance.
I was back in the Roseland where the sun had set, where the sky was largely purple, and where the once-blazing galleons in the air had burned down to sullen red.
Gasping for breath, I got to my feet and watched for a moment as the celestial sea turned black and the last embers of the cloud ships sank into the rising stars.
Although I was not afraid of the night, prudence argued that I would not be wise to linger in it. I continued toward the eucalyptus grove.
The transformed sky and the winged menace, as well as the spirits of the woman and her horse, had given me something to think about. Considering the unusual nature of my life, I need not worry that, when it comes to food for thought, I will ever experience famine.
After the woman, the horse, and the yellow sky, I didn’t think I would sleep that night. Lying awake in low lamplight, I found my thoughts following morbid paths.
We are buried when we’re born. The world is a place of graves occupied and graves potential. Life is what happens while we wait for our appointment with the mortician.
Although it is demonstrably true, you are no more likely to see that sentiment on a Starbucks cup than you are the words coffee kills.
Even before coming to Roseland, I had been in a mood. I was sure I’d cheer up soon. I always do. Regardless of what horror transpires, given a little time, I am as reliably buoyant as a helium balloon.
I don’t know the reason for that buoyancy. Understanding it might be a key part of my life assignment. Perhaps when I realize why I can find humor in the darkest of darknesses, the mortician will call my number and the time will have come to choose my casket.
Actually, I don’t expect to have a casket. The Celestial Office of Life Themes—or whatever it might be called—seems to have decided that my journey through this world will be especially complicated by absurdity and violence of the kind in which the human species takes such pride. Consequently, I’ll probably be torn limb from limb by an angry mob of antiwar protesters and thrown on a bonfire. Or I’ll be struck down by a Rolls-Royce driven by an advocate for the poor.
Certain that I wouldn’t sleep, I slept.
At four o’clock that February morning, I was deep in disturbing dreams of Auschwitz.
My characteristic buoyancy would not occur just yet.
Meet the Author
Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.
- Newport Beach, California
- Date of Birth:
- July 9, 1945
- Place of Birth:
- Everett, Pennsylvania
- B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Why do some people feel like when they write a review they have to write a book of their own? Irritating when half of the story is told in the review! Anyway, i love Odd Thomas and am glad to see the new book. :D
Love, love, love Odd Thomas, but this was the first one of the series that took some effort for me to get through. Unlike the previous books, this one lacked much interaction between the characters, focusing instead on long stretches of introspection and observations. The result was that much of the usual fun banter was replaced by long intervals of overly descriptive, boring prose. Because I enjoy the Odd Thomas character, I pushed through to the end but, if this had been the first in the series, I most likely wouldn't have continued on. It would be wonderful to see Odd return to his endearing, interesting self in the future, once again making readers anticipate each page instead of dragging themselves through them.
Oddy's strangest adventure to date! Superbly written as always, so descriptive it's a movie in my head. Depicting such detail and emotion as to transport me to Odd's world. Love it and can hardly wait for the next book!
I have been a Dean Koontz fan for some time now, but I must say I have a special place in my heart for Odd Thomas. The whole concept, just outlined sounds really ridiculous but Mr. Koontz has always made it work. Every one so far has always been a real page turner, addicting, heart pounding, thrilling, and relatable. I find myself relating to a lot of what Odd goes through, his struggles, his insecurities, and such. This addition to the Odd Thomas saga doesn't disappoint in the least. I would highly recommend reading the bridge between the last novel and this one though, found only on e-readers. It’s a 3 part adventure that will leave the reader wanting to dive write into this novel. Thank you Mr. Koontz, but please don't take so long for the next adventure of Odd.
A weak three stars at that. I'd like to grab the author and ask, "Who are you, and what have you done with Dean?" This is not the Odd novel I'm used to, which always has notes of hope and even spirituality. This is really unpleasant, though well-written and containing those wonderful flashes of humor I associate with Odd. Odd and the enigmatic (and the very pregnant) Annamaria find themselves on the magnificent and sinister country estate of a billionaire magnate. Once again Odd is faced with spectres, spirits, and someone to rescue. Unfortunately he also encounters way too many psychos and sickos for my taste. There's an underlying plot line involving kidnapping, subjugation, and torture. Dean Koontz has gone this dark route in at least one other novel, which I stopped reading halfway through, but not in the Odd books - until now. Way too grim for my taste - I'm not sure I'll be picking up another in this series.
I enjoyed this latest installment of the Odd Thomas series and am looking forward to the next book!
I have waited for so long for this book and it does not live up to the other books. I am dragging myself through pages and pages of very boring details about the layout of a house and it's grounds. The scenes are redundant but the biggest disappointment is that Odd Thomas is not his usual charming quirky self. I couldn't wait to get back to reading the other books. I couldn't put them down. Now I really don't care if I have time to read this book. That is sad. I have never written a book review before but felt strongly enough to do so now.
Dean Koontz has outdone himself, yet again! I literally couldn't put this page turner down. I recommend reading the entire series, but this is by far the best of the Odd Thomas novels to date. I missed a little of Odd's humor in the beginning, but considering all the character has been through it is totally understandable (afterall, it just goes to show he's human, with real emotion, not a superhuman. Just a fry cook going wherever he is needed).
I love Dean Koontz's book, especially the Odd series, Frankenstein series (miss Jacko) and the Chis Snow series, I have read all his novels except for the Trixie books and most I have read twice. W/that said, I found this Odd edition very disappointing. It is extremely hard to get into although does pick up toward the middle...that is a long ways to go to get into a book. His characters are not engaging, you bond w/ no one including ODD who in the other books of the series I was already dreading the end of the book in the middle cuz I knew I would miss him once I finished. Koontz is now relying too much on fancy speech and confusing phrases instead of just writing the way most ppl talk and think. I understand Odd is not most ppl but some of his sentences and paragraphs get so locked up in language that I find I have to re read and still think it makes no since in relation to what is being said before and after it. He did this in 77 Street also....no engaging characters, no bondable ppl and too many fancy/artsy words to the point nothing makes sense. I hope this is not a trend he keeps up because he is my 2cd favorite author.
Awsome read. Picked this book up in the late morning and finished it that same day. Koontz draws the most wonderful characters and the surroundings are so detailed that it is easy to become immersed. Hate to wait for more.
Roseland. During it’s heyday in the 1920s it was a pleasure palace on the west coast owned by a Hollywood mogul. Now it’s owned by a billionaire financier and run by his minions. While the outside may look the same, it’s more like the mouth of hell than a place of untold sweet fantasies. And this is where Odd (had a mistake at the hospital not taken place, his name would have been Todd) and his 7 ½ month pregnant traveling companion Annemarie (the Lady of the Bell) find themselves. The problem is that time does not run normally here, and no one means to be evil or cruel. And that fact alone makes them even scarier. Top that with the fact that Odd’s first experience in this place involve a deceased woman on horseback that rides, not up to Odd, but through him. Then, throw in the awareness of Nicholi Tessla’s experiments, terrorists, and Homeland security, and one has to ask if Odd has finally met his match. Koontz does himself proud with the development of characters that are well fleshed out, and that as a reader, you care about. While “Odd Apocalypse” is a continuation of a series, this book is so finely written that one could select and read it and still come away with a knowledge of who Odd is, and it leaves a reader wanting more.
I am constantly amazed at the fact that I LOVE reading Koontz. He makes me giggle, laugh out loud, cringe with horror and tear up all in the same book! This latest book about Odd Thomas is eminently readable and lots of fun.
Incredibly original story line (Yep, the Tesla anniversary is coming up) and another great read in the Odd series. Glad Odd isn't dead yet, can't get enough of him...
Well, Koontz had done it again. Odd Apocalypse, with the beloved Odd Thomas, is an outstanding story. I thought the plot was riveting and fun. All my favorite characters were mentioned (except Terrible Chester - I miss that darn ol' cat)! I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Great adventure and suspense,great humor,and some thought provoking insites that are common in all of dean koontz boks
Good butt darker than most.
Having read the Odd Thomas series, including novellas 1 through 3, and countless reviews of each, I was really looking forward to the #5 installment of this series. I was disappointed. Odd finds himself with Annamaria at the vast and pristine Roseland estate. Annamaria is present like background noise on an AM radio station. Her presence is relevant to the story but it's barely active. Allow me a sideways tangent for a moment... Remember reading the first Harry Potter book and then eventually, the last? I found J.K. Rowling's writing to have subtly but significantly changed for the better over the course of those eight books. Odd's journaling - which is the premise for why these stories come to us, right? Eventually these journals will be published in the fictitious world of Pico Mundo after Odd Thomas dies. As a reader my assumption is that Odd will eventually pass on into second service and his good friend, Little Ozzie, will see to it that these manuscripts are published. So Odd is journaling as a means of dealing with his gift. Well the point I'm now going to get to is this: I liked reading Odd much better when his writing style was simpler and more straight-forward as it was in the first book. The redundancy of descriptive prose describing the grounds of Roseland becomes drudgery to read through again and again. The new literary style of quoting Shakespeare (and in this book using Shakespeare to destabilize a character's relationship) feels very contrived and mechanical. The first Odd Thomas story read so well in comparison. In that book, Odd was a character worthy of empathy and full of intrigue. By this book, Odd is a caricature of his former self on a perpetual holy-martyred mission to make the world a better place through his unique gift of being able to see the dead. Having a cameo celebrity ghost pop up to make a nonsensical appearance felt a little tacky as well. It was as if Koontz was recognizing that this book was sub-par but in order to set a hook for the next novel, he briefly introduces the third celebrity ghost as an appeal to this person's fan base. All in all, this one disappoints, feels tired and suffers from redundant descriptive prose. And yeah, I'll buy and read the next one because while I didn't like it, I didn't hate it. And frankly, I am hooked.
Koontz's new novel has delighted me so far. As a fan of the "Odd Thomas" series I find this book to be like sitting down with a latte and warm, wise, interesting and dryly funny friend. Have only read the !st 50 pages and cannot review as yet but cannot wait to immerse myself. Thanks, Dean Koontz.
Thinking koontz has taken advantage of those readers who fell for the odd thomas character. Guilty myself and eager to read the next installment, l discovered all too quickly that this storyline seems to have caused koontz to hit his creative wall. koontz has definitely lost the momentum he built in the first two books with the introduction of a pseudo Madonna in the lady of the bell character. I suggest he re-read those first books and recover his focus. Definitely the weakest of the series thus far...
If stranded on an island with only one book - it would be "Odd Thomas". But, Dean, it is time get Oddie out of Science Fiction and back into the world of paranormal. That is what made readers fall in love with our Odd One!
Some pages get stuck on the nook color. It get stuck in a loop, instead of page forward, it goes back 4 pages, you have to type in page number to get past the loop. The book itself doesn't seem the same as the other odd books, it's really going out in left field.
This book was such a disappointment. Why do great writers get lazy and just write for a pay check? At one time I would be so excited to read anything Dean Koontz wrote but now it is just one disappointment after another. The Odd Thomas character was great in the first two books but now I just want him to go be with Stromy so I won't waste my time reading another novel where Mr. Koontz wraps everything up, whether it makes sense or not, in the last couple of chapters just because he reached the page number he was contracted to write. He can try to deny it but we all know that is what happening!!! Either you have ghost writers who do not have clue how to write a good ending or you are just in it for the money. The Odd Thomas Interludes were way better then this book and cost less; well except for the ending which was a little too neat for my taste.
Another beloved book about my favorite series star, the Odd one. Very cool and interesting how he wove facts about Tesla into the story - it actually sparked my interest inTesla and has inspired me to read up on him. SPOILER ALERT ---- I cant wait to see what happens with Hitchcock. Knootz displays his talent and wit yet again!!!!
This one is a little odd, but I guess that's the point. It picked up right where the last one left off and started a little slow. Once it picked up I couldn't put it down.
I enjoyed this installment of Odd Thomas, looking forward to the next book!