Title: Odd Thomas
Author: Dean Koontz
Publication Date: 2003
Purchase Price: $7.99
Misc. Info.: First in the Odd Thomas series (four thus far)
Odd Thomas can see dead people. “But then, by God,” he says, “I do something about it” (p. 32). Not many in the small town of Pico Mundo know of Odd’s talent, and he makes a living as a short-order cook at the local café. And although he shies away from being called a hero, that is really what he is.
Odd Thomas is a hero because he does what is right, even when it is not easy.
I’ve not read any of Koontz’s other works, simply because they always appeared to belong firmly in the “horror” category, which isn’t my favorite. But upon the recommendation of a friend, here we are.
Ghosts are the remaining wisps of people who are reluctant to cross over to the beyond. Sometimes this is because their murder is unsolved, or because they are afraid of the punishment they could face, or even because they’re just afraid to let go of what they knew in order to float into what they don’t. It is through the use of his ability that Odd is able to set people to rest. But there are always ghosts who linger (Elvis, for example).
And there are others, what Odd calls “bodachs.” These are not ghosts, or even poltergeists. They act rather like metal shavings: they are pulled almost magnetically to places where terror will occur, and to people who are going to commit atrocities. They do not seem to be able to affect the substantial world, but when Odd sees them, he knows that something is going to go horribly wrong.
One bodach is an unsettling sight; two or more are frightening. But one Tuesday morning as Odd is frying up breakfast at the café, one strange customer leaves trailing no fewer than twenty bodachs behind him. And although Odd knows that this may not bode well for him, his conscience will not let him do anything less than follow the mysterious man and see if—with some help from several ghostly allies and his soul mate Stormy Llwewllyn—he can prevent a tragedy.
Odd managed to grow up to be a wonderful person, even though the environment in which he was raised was horribly abusive. He does what is right, and wants to protect those he loves. He lives a simple life, despite its quirks, and he seems satisfied with that. He loves his soul mate, Stormy, in a wholehearted and pure way that might make many a women just a teensy bit swoony.
Odd can best be compared to that age-old “knight without armor in a savage land.” The way he lives his life—honestly and bravely—is an inspiration to the reader, and should not be forgotten.
“Except for the lack of enormous insects, suffocating humidity, malaria victims groaning in death throes, poisonous vipers as thick as mosquitoes, and rabid jungle cats madly devouring their own feet, you would have sworn you were in the Amazon rainforest.” (p. 65)
“Dreams that are as rich as cream while they unfold are skim milk when we wake, and in time they wash out of our minds, leaving as little residue as water filtered through cheesecloth.” (p. 199)
“Here I cannot be harmed. Here I know my destiny and am content with it. Here Stormy lives, and where she lives, I flourish.” (p. 440)