Book Review: What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

Posted April 6, 2011 by Heather in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Book Review:  What the Night Knows by Dean KoontzWhat the Night Knows by Dean Koontz
Published by Bantam on December 2010
Genres: Supernatural Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 464
Source: my shelves

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When John Calvino was fourteen years old, his family was brutally murdered by a man named Alton Blackwood.  John’s family was the fourth set of victims in a string of awful murders committed by Blackwood, and John became the sole survivor only by killing the man who had so terrorized his family.

Now, twenty years later and many miles away from where John lived as a boy, someone seems to be recreating the murders that Blackwood committed so long ago.  But John is convinced that this is no random copy-cat killer, and that he and his family are in danger of falling victim to someone–or something–that might not be fully human.

Will John be able to figure out what’s happening before it’s too late?  Will he have the courage to face whatever he might discover in order to save the people he loves, or will his wife and three children be victims of the same brutality that was visited upon his parents and sisters twenty years ago?

What the Night Knows has almost everything we’ve come to expect from Dean Koontz:  heart-pounding, breath-stopping suspense; supernatural terror; and a central problem that will elude solving until the very end.  The only thing it’s lacking is the complexity of some of his better stories.  While the supernatural bits are pretty spooky, having read over twenty of Koontz’s books, I feel that they kind of fall flat in What the Night Knows.  I feel like some of the supernatural things the characters experience could have been expanded upon to make for a spookier story.  While reading, I would be terrified for a minute, saying to myself, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no,’ and then my reaction would change to just ‘oh’.  *insert shoulder shrug here* With the exception of John Calvino and Alton Blackwood–because the story revolves around them– I also feel that the characters are lacking the depth that I’ve come to expect from Koontz’s characters.  While they are interesting, I feel like parts of them are missing.  Again, they just weren’t as complex as I’ve come to expect Koontz’s characters to be.  And the end of the story is…different…and a little frustrating.  I still haven’t decided how I feel about it, so I’ll let you be the judge.

With that said, the one area What the Night Knows isn’t lacking in is suspense; I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath a few times and I didn’t want to put the book down.  And maybe that was Koontz’s intent with this one:  more suspense, less supernatural.  Without giving the story away, I will just say that you never know which character is going to turn out to be a killer from one scene to the next. Almost everyone is fair game.  Koontz has never been squeamish about killing his characters off, and the characters in What the Night Knows are no exception.  Violence abounds.

To sum it up, What the Night Knows is a good book, but not one of Koontz’s best.  I still enjoyed it and I’m glad I read it.  The suspense was definitely there and the storyline was good and interesting.  Maybe I’ve just gotten too spoiled or too comfortable with what I expect from Koontz in terms of supernatural, spooky stuff, and the complexity with which he typically writes.  If you like supernatural/suspense/thrillers, I would recommend it as a decent read, but I would also recommend getting it from the library, just in case you decide it isn’t worthy of  a spot on your bookshelf.  Also, the age recommendation on this one is adults only, due to the nature of the violence and general content.

If you’ve already read What the Night Knows, and are of a different opinion or outlook, I’d love to hear from you.  Don’t be afraid to leave a comment letting me know what you think.


(To learn more about Dean Koontz, you can visit his official website.)


  • Great review! I pretty much felt the same, although I may have liked it a little more than you. I have to write my review soon. 🙂