the funhouseDean Koontz
Jove / Berkley
1980 / 1994

Once upon a time, Ellen Harper had a rather…nasty experience being the young wife of a carnie who was given to violent outbursts. Oh, yeah- he also had this habit of worshiping Satan. Now, 25 years after she divorced the guy, Ellen’s married with two children- 18-year-old Amy and 10-year-old Joey- and, due to her previous matrimonial nightmare, is now a whacked-out ultra religious freak with a tremendous drinking problem and a destructive guilt complex. Meanwhile, her ex had sworn since the night he threw her out that one day he’ll find her and destroy her family. And now, the carnival he has called home has landed in Ellen’s small, unassuming town, with a mind to introduce Amy and Joey to his world-renowned funhouse. Something wicked this way comes, indeed…

You see what I did there? I made reference to another book about sinister carnivals in this story about…ahem…um, never mind…

Anyway, The Funhouse is a Dean Koontz novel that was originally published in 1980 under the pseudonym of Owen West, and latter republished under his real name. Thus proving that Ben Franklin’s famous adage was only two-thirds right: The only things inevitable in life are death, taxes, and in the world of pop fiction, repackaging. Keeping in mind that the pen name was devised because Koontz wasn’t a household name in fiction yet, it seems fitting as this isn’t a typical Koontz novel.

The Funhouse is a straight-up horror novel, the story a straight-forward teens-stalked-by-monster plot, with a little back story on the main characters to give a bit more depth to the monster fodder. Something about “caring for the plight of the characters” or something.

According to the afterward in the reprint, Koontz wrote The Funhouse as a straight-to-paperback novelization of a horror movie of the same name. Apparently, the novel was a success, whereas the movie bombed big time. Eh, he needed the money. As far as the book goes, it’s an alright read. Fairly quick, without any needless subplots.