Book Review – The House at the End of the World

Something horrifying has escaped what’s supposed to be an Environmental Protection Agency research facility located at the far end of an archipelago in one of the great lakes. The island housing this facility is called Ringrock, and can be seen just a short mile across the water from Katie’s own island, Jacob’s Ladder. As the danger and mystery of the security breach invades the safety and isolation of her home, Katie is forced to take action to protect herself, a neighboring island owner’s daughter, and a tag-along fox named Michael J.

I picked this one up on recommendation and it’s the first Dean Koontz book I’ve tried. I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by his writing. It had all the great elements of a suspenseful horror novel, filled with thrills and chills, and the story was a whirlwind right until the very end. Koontz is excellent at writing scenes that are perfectly uncomfortable without too much shock-factor, but I better enjoyed his more personal narrative of the protagonist and her struggle to heal from the terrible trauma she’s experienced in her life (something I’m not usually interested in).

Jacob’s Ladder sounded like an amazing little island. The descriptions of it were rich and colorful, and I appreciated the small bits of its history that Koontz included in the story. I didn’t even know that I wanted to live on an island like that until I read this book!

The characters were all wonderfully vibrant and individually different. Katie, the main character, is damaged, broken, and distrustful of pretty much everything, but through the story she finds herself again… and finds a reason to live instead of just merely existing. Libby was a great character. She’s a teenager, an autodidact, and surprisingly well adjusted for having never been hugged by her parents. Then, there’s Michael J., the fox. He’s a gigantic character that is so important, but seems to be just along for the ride until the end. Even the “bad guys” were all well done, especially when they are in the midst of… the fusion.

I spent a big part of this book fretting over the possibility that the fox friend would be injured or killed, but rest assured that he not only lives, but no harm comes to him at all. Michael J. is kind of a spirit guide who helps Katie find herself again.

I highly recommend this book. It was a great read and I’m going to pick up some more Dean Koontz books again real soon!

Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5.

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