This city—perhaps any city—is a place of secrets and enigmas. Roaming alone with your dog in realms that others seldom visit, you will glimpse disturbing phenomena and strange presences that suggest the world has dimensions that reason alone cannot explain.
In this chilling original stand-alone novella, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz offers a taste of what’s to come in 77 Shadow Street with a mesmerising tale of a homeless boy at large in a city fraught with threats . . . both human and otherwise.
Twelve-year-old Crispin has lived on the streets since he was nine—with only his wits and his daring to sustain him, and only his silent dog, Harley, to call his friend. He is always on the move, never lingering in any one place long enough to risk being discovered. He has a dog as a friend and the moon to light his way.
The moon is without menace. It neither favours evil nor calls to those who do. This is what Crispin believes at the age of twelve: By the light of the moon, truth can be seen as easily as by any other light. Year by year, he will refine that perception into a greater wisdom that will sustain him. To see the truth, however, you must have an honest eye.
Still, there are certain places he returns to. In the midst of the tumultuous city, they are havens of solitude: like the hushed environs of St. Mary Salome Cemetery, a place where Crispin can feel at peace—safe, at least for a while, from the fearsome memories that plague him . . . and seep into his darkest nightmares.
When the hunters are hot on the scent, some places are safer than others. Certain churches, not all, seem to foil these particular pursuers. Sanctuary can be found in that kind of church—whether Baptist or otherwise—in which, on Sundays, rollicking gospel songs are sung with gusto and booming piano. Churches in which Latin is sometimes spoken, candles are lit for the intention of the dead, incense is sometimes burned, and fonts of holy water stand at the entrances—those are also secure. Synagogues are good refuges, too.
But not only his dreams are haunted.
The city he roams with Harley has secrets and mysteries, things unexplainable and maybe unimaginable. Crispin has seen ghosts in the dead of night, and sensed dimensions beyond reason in broad daylight. Hints of things disturbing and strange nibble at the edges of his existence, even as dangers wholly natural and earthbound cast their shadows across his path. Alone, drifting, and scavenging to survive is no life for a boy. But the life Crispin has left behind, and is still running scared from, is an unspeakable alternative . . . that may yet catch up with him.
The true nature of the world is veiled, and if you shine a bright light on it, you can’t expose that truth; it melts away with the shadows in which it was cloaked. The truth is too awesome for us to stare directly at it, and we are meant to glimpse it only at the periphery of our vision. If the landscape of your mind is too dark with fear or doubt or anger, you are blind to all truth. But if your mental landscape is too bright with certitude and arrogance, you are snow-blind and likewise unable to see what lies before you. Only the moonlit mind allows wonder, and it is in the thrall of wonder that you can see the intricate weave of the world of which you are but one thread, one fantastic and essential thread.
It all started when Crispin’s mother decided she no longer wanted to get men to pay child support and maintain her lavish lifestyle by making children she didn’t really want. The mother found a richer-than-life man who immediately takes her and her children into his care. The nanny, the teacher, the cooks – they are all there to ensure the children lack nothing. They don’t really learn, they play all day, eat whatever they want, get presents beyond count.
He is overwhelmed by opulence, on the verge of vertigo, when once more he focuses on the velvet shadows in the corners, which remind him of some place he can’t remember, a place that came before everything he’s ever known. But this time some alien voice inside his head, with words he’s never heard before yet understands, reveals to him that the perfection of these shadows are the darkness of his mother’s womb, from which he was born. If he wishes to step into a corner and allow these shadows to fold around him, if he will wait here for his mother, upon her return she will take him back into herself, and he will know again the peace of being part of her and eventually of being uncreated.
But something dark hides in the corner of the mansion and unknown to Crispin and his siblings – they will be “food” for a cult who believes in sucking the life out of innocent children in order to prolongue their own. The nanny is hundreds of years old. They all wear a fly as a birth mark. Crispin knew something was odd when his sister was bathed in milk with roses and then entered in a ceremony and was then never seen again. When his brother goes missing too, Crispin knows he’s next and he flees the house.
He finds a new friend in the dog but also in an older girl called Amity, who had also had a run-in with evil in the form of a serial killer who murdered her family.
By the time the library closes, she decides to rename herself Amity Onawa. Amity, from the Latin amicitia , means “friendship.” Onawa, a North American Indian word, means “wide awake girl.”
The book ends with Crispin returning to the mansion where he lived in and setting it on fire, not by actual fire but by burning a scaled model of the house that was in his grandma’s quarters.
He flees the house as smoke envelops the evil place and he knows that while it will take a long time, evil will recover and he will have to flee again.
The book was nice to read but it literally took me 2 and a half weeks to finish off 125 pages. So there is something about the pace or the writing that made me put the book down and not be able to continue reading it.