St. Bartholomew's Abbey sits nestled into the Sierra Nevada
mountains on the California side of things. Snow is starting to
lilt down from gray skies and the weather report is one to dread. A
savage blizzard is on the way. Normally this would not be a big
deal; the monks of St. Bartholomew's don't have much problem with
the isolation caused by the storm. One of their guests, however,
finds that things are taking a tragic turn for the worst that could
result in horrible destruction.
Odd Thomas has sought solace in the abbey after the events of his
previous adventure. Hoping to make peace and begin to overcome his
loss, he is saddened to see the bodachs, gruesome black shades who
feed on death, begin to show up on the abbey grounds and lurk over
the children. Their arrival always precludes a cataclysmic event,
and Odd fears for the lives of the young souls who are unable to
take care of themselves.
When Brother Timothy is murdered and Odd is attacked, the
increasing snowfall makes any help nearly impossible. Odd is left
alone to try to uncover the mystery of when the doom shall come. In
the meantime, he must deal with more mysteries: the hidden past of
Jacob, a silent child who draws pictures of the same woman over and
over again; Brother John, a former scientist and billionaire who
gave up his fortune and has hidden away in the abbey; and Rodion
Romanovich, a Russian guest of the abbey who verbally spars with
Odd on frequent occasions. Odd also must find a way to bring peace
to the haunting spirit of Brother Constantine and allow him to find
his eternal rest.
Odd Thomas is one of the most intriguing and likable characters of
the past 10 years, and Koontz continues to speak through him with
freshness and excitement. Although he is significantly different
from those who read about him, there is much that is similar and
can touch and move you.
His main difference, or oddity, is his ability to see the lingering
dead --- the souls of the deceased who, for some reason, refuse to
leave. They come to him seeking aid, and Odd is not yet sure if
this is a gift or a curse. In many ways it is both. Koontz makes
these ghostly visitations seem as natural as walking past someone
off the street, even with the ghost of Elvis Presley, who has been
hanging with Odd for a few years because he is afraid his mother
will be disappointed at how his life came apart.
Like everyone who cracks open the world of Odd Thomas, he has known
personal loss, and it is with this similarity that readers most
easily can connect with him. He is the victim of a poor upbringing
by a mother who couldn't care less, whose life reached its pinnacle
as a fry cook in Pico Mundo and who is stung by the loss of his
love, Stormy Llewellyn, for which he also feels guilt because his
"gift" could not be used to save her. Odd struggles with these
conflicted feelings and finding a way to continue on his road until
the day comes when they can be together again.
Though it falls short of the previous two installments of the
series, BROTHER ODD is still an enjoyable piece of work. It doesn't
feel any less original, and it still contains great banter and
witticisms. And as Odd recounts his story, you feel that you are in
the presence of a peaceful soul finally exposing himself to the
world despite his fears of doing so.
Apart from the gift of seeing spirits and helping them gain peace,
Odd is not so odd or different from us. He is a normal man with
normal ambitions. He does not pretend to be more than he is. He
seeks a simple life and a peaceful road on which to live it. He is
charming, sorrowful, and willing to undertake the work that has
been placed upon him under the extraordinary circumstances in which
he finds himself.
No muscular brute, no wickedly intelligent sleuth, no gun-toting
vigilante, Odd Thomas is the most simple and believable of
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on December 23, 2010