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3.8 299
by Dean Koontz

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On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot



On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong.

    As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1975, the now defunct Laser Books issued Invasion by Aaron Wolfe, aka Koontz (who later expanded that novel into Winter Moon, 1994), a breakneck tale of alien invasion centered on an isolated farm. Koontz's new novel also concerns alien invasion, and a comparison of the two books offers insight into the evolution of this megaselling author's work. Invasion was mostly speed and suspense-a brilliant if superficial exercise in terror. The new novel also features abundant suspense, as a couple in an isolated California home endure a phosphorescent rain and learn that, around the world, something is attacking humans and laying waste to communications. It's only when they drive to a nearby town that they learn of a global alien invasion; the tension ratchets as a weird fog descends and the aliens not only manifest physically but animate the dead. For years, however, Koontz has aimed at more than just thrills; today he is a novelist of metaphysics and moral reflection. His aliens are inherently evil as well as scary; standing against them are the human capacity for hope and the forces of goodness and innocence (here, as elsewhere, embodied in dogs), and near novel's end Koontz puts an overtly religious spin on his tale. Koontz's language has changed over the years, too, and not always for the better. While his care with words engenders admiration, his love of metaphor and alliteration can slow down the reading ("the luminous nature of the torrents that tinseled the forest and silvered the ground"). Also missing here is the wonderful humor that elevated his last novel, Odd Thomas, and some other recent work. Koontz remains one of the most fascinating of contemporary popular novelists, and this stands as an important effort, but not his best, though its sincerity and passion can't be denied. Agent, Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media. (May 25) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In a small California town, Molly and Neil Sloan wake in the night to find the world experiencing the communication breakdown and extreme weather phenomena that will presage an extraterrestrial annexation of Earth. Along with the assistance of some intelligent and intuitive dogs (a Koontz trademark), Molly and Neil try to save as many children as they can from being "taken" or killed outright. In The Taking, Koontz continues his ongoing exploration of the capacity of human nature for hope, goodness, and innocence in the face of evil. Reader Ariadne Meyers successfully becomes the voice of Molly, another of the author's strong and smart female characters. Recommended.-Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After last year's Odd Thomas, well-shaped but less than gripping, the amazing Koontz hits some brilliantly stylish pages, but just some, those among his best since 1995's Intensity. A winner, yes, many will think, especially after its superb opening that will keep many deeply riveted for the distance. But as one bloody horror piles onto another, others might ask: Do I really want to read this? At which point finishing the last half becomes a slog through strongly chiseled details, all the more disheartening because so well done. Molly and Neil live high up on California's San Bernardino Mountains near the town of Black Lake. She's 28, has published four well-received novels that went nowhere. Her mother wrote even better novels but died of cancer at 30. Neil is a lapsed priest turned first-rate cabinetmaker. One night a thunderous Niagara of rain hits their roof, rain so heavy that it drives coyotes onto their porch. This is a supernatural rain, luminous, scented with varied fragrances, including semen. On TV they see dozens of gigantic waterspouts forming on every ocean, global cities collapsing. Strange black figures dart about the landscape. Power fails. Radio is poor, darkness visible. Molly feels something colossal flying above the rain clouds, and it doesn't take long for them to accept that ETs are wiping out humankind. They go to Black Lake to join neighbors in fighting off the ETs, but they're overwhelming-and ghastly in their killing. For once, Koontz needn't introduce a serial killer or child murderer into his narrative-but does anyway, in Molly's father. In any case, the second half groans with messy killings as Molly and Neil save children. Molly's face-to-face with the firstET is delayed until the last few pages. By then, all interest has faded. One prays that this genius will write the great novel he has in him, something like A Death in the Family or The Violent Bear It Away. Agent: Robert Gottlieb/Trident Media Group
From the Publisher
"Koontz remains one of the most fascinating of contemporary popular novelists ... he is a novelist of metaphysics and moral reflection."—Publishers Weekly

"A thrill ride."—Daily News (NY)

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A few minutes past one o'clock in the morning, a hard rain fell without warning. No thunder preceded the deluge, no wind.

The abruptness and the ferocity of the downpour had the urgent quality of a perilous storm in a dream.

Lying in bed beside her husband, Molly Sloan had been restless before the sudden cloudburst. She grew increasingly fidgety as she listened to the rush of rain.

The voices of the tempest were legion, like an angry crowd chanting in a lost language. Torrents pounded and pried at the cedar siding, at the shingles, as if seeking entrance.

September in southern California had always before been a dry month in a long season of predictable drought. Rain rarely fell after March, seldom before December.

In wet months, the rataplan of raindrops on the roof had sometimes served as a reliable remedy for insomnia. This night, however, the liquid rhythms failed to lull her into slumber, and not just because they were out of season.

For Molly, sleeplessness had too often in recent years been the price of thwarted ambition. Scorned by the sandman, she stared at the dark bedroom ceiling, brooding about what might have been, yearning for what might never be.

By the age of twenty-eight, she had published four novels. All were well received by reviewers, but none sold in sufficient numbers to make her famous or even to guarantee that she would find an eager publisher for the next.

Her mother, Thalia, a writer of luminous prose, had been in the early years of an acclaimed career when she died of cancer at thirty. Now, sixteen years later, Thalia's books were out of print, her mark upon the world all but erased.

Molly lived with a quiet dread of following her mother into obscurity. She didn't suffer from an inordinate fear of death; rather, she was troubled by the thought of dying before achieving any lasting accomplishment.

Beside her, Neil snored softly, oblivious of the storm.

Sleep always found him within a minute of the moment when he put his head on the pillow and closed his eyes. He seldom stirred during the night; after eight hours, he woke in the same position in which he had gone to sleep—rested, invigorated.

Neil claimed that only the innocent enjoyed such perfect sleep.

Molly called it the sleep of the slacker.

Throughout their seven years of marriage, they had conducted their lives by different clocks.

She dwelled as much in the future as in the present, envisioning where she wished to go, relentlessly mapping the path that ought to lead to her high goals. Her strong mainspring was wound tight.

Neil lived in the moment. To him, the far future was next week, and he trusted time to take him there whether or not he planned the journey.

They were as different as mice and moonbeams.

Considering their contrasting natures, they shared a love that seemed unlikely. Yet love was the cord that bound them together, the sinewy fiber that gave them strength to weather disappointment, even tragedy.

During Molly's spells of insomnia, Neil's rhythmic snoring, although not loud, sometimes tested love almost as much as infidelity might have done. Now the sudden crash of pummeling rain masked the noise that he made, giving Molly a new target upon which to focus her frustration.

The roar of the storm escalated until they seemed to be inside the rumbling machinery that powered the universe.

Shortly after two o'clock, without switching on a light, Molly got out of bed. At a window that was protected from the rain by the overhanging roof, she looked through her ghostly reflection, into a windless monsoon.

Their house stood high in the San Bernardino Mountains, embraced by sugar pines, knobcone pines, and towering ponderosas with dramatic fissured bark.

Most of their neighbors were in bed at this hour. Through the shrouding trees and the incessant downpour, only a single cluster of lights could be seen on these slopes above Black Lake.

The Corrigan place. Harry Corrigan had lost Calista, his wife of thirty-five years, back in June.

During a weekend visit to her sister, Nancy, in Redondo Beach, Calista parked her Honda near an ATM to withdraw two hundred dollars. She'd been robbed, then shot in the face.

Subsequently, Nancy had been pulled from the car and shot twice. She had also been run over when the two gunmen escaped in the Honda. Now, three months after Calista's funeral, Nancy remained in a coma.

While Molly yearned for sleep, Harry Corrigan strove every night to avoid it. He said his dreams were killing him.

In the tides of the storm, the luminous windows of Harry's house seemed like the running lights of a distant vessel on a rolling sea: one of those fabled ghost ships, abandoned by passengers and crew, yet with lifeboats still secured. Untouched dinners would be found on plates in the crew's mess. In the wheelhouse, the captain's favorite pipe, warm with smoldering tobacco, would await discovery on the chart table.

Molly's imagination had been engaged; she couldn't easily shift into neutral again. Sometimes, in the throes of insomnia, she tossed and turned into the arms of literary inspiration.

Downstairs, in her study, were five chapters of her new novel, which needed to be polished. A few hours of work on the manuscript might soothe her nerves enough to allow sleep.

Her robe draped the back of a nearby chair. She shrugged into it and knotted the belt.

Crossing to the door, she realized that she was navigating with surprising ease, considering the absence of lamplight. Her sureness in the gloom couldn't be explained entirely by the fact that she had been awake for hours, staring at the ceiling with dark-adapted eyes.

The faint light at the windows, sufficient to dilute the bedroom darkness, could not have traveled all the way from Harry Corrigan's house, three doors to the south. The true source at first eluded her.

Storm clouds hid the moon.

Outside, the landscape lights were off; the porch lights, too.

Returning to the window, she puzzled over the tinseled glimmer of the rain. A curious wet sheen made the bristling boughs of the nearest pines more visible than they should have been.

Ice? No. Stitching through the night, needles of sleet would have made a more brittle sound than the susurrant drumming of this autumn downpour.

She pressed fingertips to the windowpane. The glass was cool but not cold.

When reflecting ambient light, falling rain sometimes acquires a silvery cast. In this instance, however, no ambient light existed.

The rain itself appeared to be faintly luminescent, each drop a light-emitting crystal. The night was simultaneously veiled and revealed by skeins of vaguely fluorescent beads.

When Molly stepped out of the bedroom, into the upstairs hall, the soft glow from two domed skylights bleached the gloom from black to gray, revealing the way to the stairs. Overhead, the rainwater sheeting down the curved Plexiglas was enlivened by radiant whorls that resembled spiral nebulae wheeling across the vault of a planetarium.

She descended the stairs and proceeded to the kitchen by the guidance of the curiously storm-lit windows.

Some nights, embracing rather than resisting insomnia, she brewed a pot of coffee to take to her desk in the study. Thus stoked, she wrote jagged, caffeine-sharpened prose with the realistic tone of police-interrogation transcripts.

This night, however, she intended to return eventually to bed. After switching on the light in the vent hood above the cooktop, she flavored a mug of milk with vanilla extract and cinnamon, then heated it in the microwave.

In her study, volumes of her favorite poetry and prose—Louise GlYck, Donald Justice, T. S. Eliot, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Dickens—lined the walls. Occasionally, she took comfort and inspiration from a humble sense of kinship with these writers.

Most of the time, however, she felt like a pretender. Worse, a fraud.

Her mother had said that every good writer needed to be her own toughest critic. Molly edited her work with both a red pen and a metaphorical hatchet, leaving evidence of bloody suffering with the former, reducing scenes to kindling with the latter.

More than once, Neil suggested that Thalia had never said—and had not intended to imply—that worthwhile art could be carved from raw language only with self-doubt as sharp as a chisel. To Thalia, her work had also been her favorite form of play.

In a troubled culture where cream often settled on the bottom and the palest milk rose to the top, Molly knew that she was short on logic and long on superstition when she supposed that her hope for success rested upon the amount of passion, pain, and polish that she brought to her writing. Nevertheless, regarding her work, Molly remained a Puritan, finding virtue in self-flagellation.

Leaving the lamps untouched, she switched on the computer but didn't at once sit at her desk. Instead, as the screen brightened and the signature music of the operating system welcomed her to a late-night work session, she was once more drawn to a window by the insistent rhythm of the rain.

Beyond the window lay the deep front porch. The railing and the overhanging roof framed a dark panorama of serried pines, a strangely luminous ghost forest out of a disturbing dream.

She could not look away. For reasons that she wasn't able to articulate, the scene made her uneasy.

Nature has many lessons to teach a writer of fiction. One of these is that nothing captures the imagination as quickly or as completely as does spectacle.

Blizzards, floods, volcanos, hurricanes, earthquakes: They fascinate because they nakedly reveal that Mother Nature, afflicted with bipolar disorder, is as likely to snuff us as she is to succor us. An alternately nurturing and destructive parent is the stuff of gripping drama.

Silvery cascades leafed the bronze woods, burnishing bark and bough with sterling highlights.

An unusual mineral content in the rain might have lent it this slight phosphorescence.

Or . . . having come in from the west, through the soiled air above Los Angeles and surrounding cities, perhaps the storm had washed from the atmosphere a witch's brew of pollutants that in combination gave rise to this pale, eerie radiance.

Sensing that neither explanation would prove correct, seeking a third, Molly was startled by movement on the porch. She shifted focus from the trees to the sheltered shadows immediately beyond the glass.

Low, sinuous shapes moved under the window. They were so silent, fluid, and mysterious that for a moment they seemed to be imagined: formless expressions of primal fears.

Then one, three, five of them lifted their heads and turned their yellow eyes to the window, regarding her inquisitively. They were as real as Molly herself, though sharper of tooth.

The porch swarmed with wolves. Slinking out of the storm, up the steps, onto the pegged-pine floor, they gathered under the shelter of the roof, as though this were not a house but an ark that would soon be set safely afloat by the rising waters of a cataclysmic flood.

Chapter Two

In these mountains, between the true desert to the east and the plains to the west, wolves were long extinct. The visitation on the porch had the otherworldly quality of an apparition.

When, on closer examination, Molly realized that these beasts were coyotes—sometimes called prairie wolves—their behavior seemed no less remarkable than when she had mistaken them for the larger creatures of folklore and fairy tales.

As much as anything, their silence defined their strangeness. In the thrill of the chase, running down their prey, coyotes often cry with high excitement: a chilling ululation as eerie as the music of a theremin. Now they neither cried nor barked, nor even growled.

Unlike most wolves, coyotes will frequently hunt alone. When they join in packs to stalk game, they do not run as close together as do wolves.

Yet on the front porch, the individualism characteristic of their species was not in evidence. They gathered flank-to-flank, shoulder-to-shoulder, eeling among one another, no less communal than domesticated hounds, nervous and seeking reassurance from one another.

Noticing Molly at the study window, they neither shied from her nor reacted aggressively. Their shining eyes, which in the past had always impressed her as being cruel and bright with blood hunger, now appeared to be as devoid of threat as the trusting eyes of any household pet.

Indeed, each creature favored her with a compelling look as alien to coyotes as anything she could imagine. Their expressions seemed to be imploring.

This was so unlikely that she distrusted her perceptions. Yet she thought that she detected a beseeching attitude not only in their eyes but also in their posture and behavior.

She ought to have been frightened by this fanged congregation. Her heart did beat faster than usual; however, the novelty of the situation and a sense of the mysterious, rather than fear, quickened her pulse.

The coyotes were obviously seeking shelter, although never previously had Molly seen even one of them flee the tumult of a storm for the protection of a human habitation. People were a far greater danger to their kind than anything they might encounter in nature.

Besides, this comparatively dark and quiet tempest had neither the lightning nor the thunder to chase them from their dens. The formidable volume of the downpour marked this as unusual weather; but the rain had not been falling long enough to flood these stoic predators out of their homes.

Although the coyotes regarded Molly with entreating glances, they reserved the greater part of their attention for the storm. Tails tucked, ears pricked, the wary beasts watched the silvery torrents and the drenched forest with acute interest if not with outright anxiety.

As still more of their wolfish kind slouched out of the night and onto the porch, Molly searched the palisade of trees for the cause of their concern.

She saw nothing more than she had seen before: the faintly radiant cataracts wrung from a supersaturated sky, the trees and other vegetation bowed and trembled and silvered by the fiercely pummeling rain.

Nonetheless, as she scanned the night woods, the nape of her neck prickled as though a ghost lover had pressed his ectoplasmic lips against her skin. A shudder of inexplicable misgiving passed through her.

Rattled by the conviction that something in the forest returned her scrutiny from behind the wet veil of the storm, Molly backed away from the window.

The computer monitor suddenly seemed too bright—and revealing. She switched off the machine.

Black and argentine, the mercurial gloom streamed and glimmered past the windows. Even here in the house, the air felt thick and damp.

The phosphoric light of the storm cast shimmering reflections on a collection of porcelains, on glass paperweights, on the white-gold leafing of several picture frames. . . . The study had the deep-fathom ambience of an oceanic trench forever beyond the reach of the sun but dimly revealed by radiant anemones and luminous jellyfish.

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, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Brief Biography

Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:
July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:
Everett, Pennsylvania
B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966

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The Taking 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 299 reviews.
pandacheri More than 1 year ago
I picked up The Taking because the synopsis intrigued me. As I started reading, I thought, "OK. This is horror." As I continued and the plot developed, I thought, "No, this is science fiction." By the end of the book, I decided it was something entirely different, and that it really doesn't fit just one genre. I then demanded my husband read it so we could discuss it. He did, and we had wonderful conversations as he progressed through the book. As a result of reading The Taking, I began a quest to read as much of Dean Koontz as I can get my hands on. At last count, I think I'm up to 47 books. I have a long way to go, and as prolific a writer as he is, I may never catch up. That is a marvelous problem to have. Read this book if you are on a spiritual journey. Share this book to discuss it with friends. It could change the way you view life.
tattooedmommie More than 1 year ago
When I first started this book, I wasn't sure if I'd really enjoy it as much as I enjoy all of Koontz's others. I've never been one to really enjoy an alien invasion themed plot, but I have to admit that I was hooked into the story almost immediately. Leave it to Koontz to make me want to read a story about a topic I usually avoid. By the last page, which I reached in record time, I put the book down and had a hearty laugh because my perception of the whole story felt askew. This review may be a little confusing, but once you've read the book you'll understand why. I was so surprised at the ending that frankly, I wanted to read the book again just to put the puzzle pieces together a little earlier. As with most of Koontz's work, I can't recommend this enough!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a roller coaster ride of fear! It kept me interested and on my toes. I really thought it was very unnerving! Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this is Dean Koontz in top form. If you want a creepy horror story which lacks substance in favor of gore and does not have you guessing what the heck is going on in the story, this book is NOT for you. That being said, The Taking blends horror and thriller into a soupy mix of science fiction, mystery and spirituality which will leave you confused as to what exactly is going on.... Until the end of the book, when the full plot of the story is revealed and leaves you with a blown mind! One of my favorite books from my favorite author. :)
dragon47 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book it will keep you guessing up until the ending which is not what will think at first. The characters Neil and Molly are just like the couple next door they really step-up to the bat, and you care what happens to them. As always expected of Dean Koontz this is a keeper
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like scary books then this is just for you. I couldn¿t sleep for a week after I stopped reading it. This book is sooooo good I couldn¿t finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to sleep with the lights on, enough said!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of his best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dean Koontz reeled me in with his masterful use of word imagery and suspense in the first parts of this book. Admittedly, I was drawn in deeper and deeper until I was literally terrified while reading chapter after chapter. But as the book progressed, it became evident to me that the religious overtones were getting stronger and stronger. I don't mind reading pieces where the author quotes scriptures throughout dialogue and weaves it into his plot, but it became excruciating for me. By the end of the book, I felt as dirty as Molly did after she stepped off the porch and into the rain. I felt soiled by Koontz's twisted writer's mind. But then again, I think that is the goal of the story!! He did a marvelous job in creating enough suspense and supernatural terror to scare the pants off a seasoned reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I owned the paperback version of this book and it started my love for end-of-the-world books. One of his best yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super scary,creative, philosophical, and creepy. Terrific ending! You will never forget this story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very creepy and good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it entirely.... Great novel by Koontz
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read overall. If you dont like description go see a movie dont read a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't think I have ever read a Koontz book I didn't like. This one was just as awesome. Loved it!
Caryn Carrigg More than 1 year ago
i love this book. one if my favorites from koontz. the way he explores the darkness inside people, the worse monsters we coud imagine but unfailing belief in the innate good givea us the evil we get excited to explore but an unlikely hero to identify with is what keeps me coming back.
Shaneil Nakamoto More than 1 year ago
I loved this it took me back to the great suspense and twisting plots of his earlier work! A must read!
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be slowly suspenseful and just the right amount of creepy. Did not see that ending coming.
CTK More than 1 year ago
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The first 100 pages were excellent. The middle got a little too sci fi for me and the ending was about where I was expecting it to go. This is Dean's version of the rapture - Mankind starting over with "hope".
libby101a More than 1 year ago
This is another one of Koontz greatest! This was my third book by Koontz and I must tell you, I think it is one of his best works! I couldn't put this book down, I read it all in one night! I loved it! Koontz is the best!
C_A_Burch More than 1 year ago
Perfect Koontz! Grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go until you've read the last word...suspense, action, horror; this book has it all. Fast paced and the mystery never stops until the final climax...read it and find out! Great job Mr. Koontz!
Dolphin11067 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in TWO DAYS!...It is awesome..would love to see this as a movie! Koontz does it again!
Melissa_MTX More than 1 year ago
This is my first book that I've read from Dean Koontz and I thought it was very clever! Had me guessing about what was happening til the very end!!! Loved the ending!
TheEerieCoterie More than 1 year ago
Few writers are able to - or even try to - mix genres. Dean Koontz excells at this endevour time and time again. Sci/Fi, Horror, Humor, Romance, Spiritualism can all be found in The Taking, one of the most interesting fast-paced thrillers in quite awhile. On the offset it appears that aliens are invading earth, but as usual in a Koontz tale, nothing is as it seems and the truth is by far more intriguing. No cliches here, just a wonderful, relentless story of a couple dealing with the strange occurances that are plaguing their town. Koontz creates some jarringly gory scenes and terrifying encounters with "something" while maintaining decent character developement. His beautiful lyrical writing style adds depth to what would otherwise be a been there, done that kind of tale. His use of T.S.Elliot poetry at each section entry point lends even more literary flair to this harrowing book.
ewolf More than 1 year ago
You think you know what to expect but you don't. You don't even see it coming. This is my all time favorite Koontz book. You are easily able to empathize with the main characters and understand their inner conflict. I reccomend this book to anyone who is looking for something out of the ordinary that will make you think and is also looking for a scare.