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Summary

Once there was a girl who ran away and joined a traveling carnival. She married a man she grew to hate - and gave birth to a child she could never love. A child so monstrous that she killed it with her own hands.… Twenty-five years later, Ellen Harper has a new life, a new husband, and two normal children - Joey loves monster movies, and Amy is about to graduate from high school. But their mother drowns her secret guilt in alcohol and prayer. The time has come for Amy and Joey to pay for her sins.…

Because Amy is pregnant.

And the carnival is coming back to town.

©2001 Universal Studios Publishing Rights, a division of Universal Studios Licensing, Inc. (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Recorded by arrangement with The Berkley Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 15-02-15

Early, not so good, Koontz

I like most of Koontz, but this book is far from the best of Koontz. I would have to review my reviews to see if there is any Koontz I liked less than this one. That said, it is still better than most in the genre (but that is not saying much).

This is a new release to Audible, but an old Koontz book published back in 1980. He has some good early work, but there are a few early stinkers. This is one of those.

Usually Koontz has great characters, a compelling story, some interesting surprises, a satisfying ending, and superior prose. All of these features are lacking in this one dimensional surprise-less story. Early in the book the outcome is foreshadowed, and then it happens, and then it is over. I was totally unsatisfied by the abrupt and uninteresting ending. Occasionally Koontz does a story with a simple good (God) vs. evil (Satan) plot, and this is one of those (which I find among his least compelling styles).

This book has more frank and explicit sex and drugs then most Koontz so it might not be great for younger readers.

I do a lot of Audible and have become, over the years, very forgiving regarding narration. I appreciate great narration, but if I can hear and understand the words, I am generally not distracted by poor narration. This was an exception, the weak characterizations, annoying whines, intoxicated drawls, and baked speech patterns were too much for me.

This is one Koontz I would not recommend.

98 of 101 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Patty
  • 22-02-15

I read this 35 years ago!

5 minutes into listening to this "new Dean Koontz novel" I realized I had read it before. Memorable, only because of how mediocre it was. With just a little digging, I found that this had been published under the name of "Owen West" (a Dean Koontz "pen name"...who knew?).
Not so good the first time around. We should be warned when they dust off old works and try to pass them off as new.

58 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • David Shear
  • 31-12-14

Not Koontz's best and bad narration

I'm late in my love of Koontz. I've been devouring his books for just the last few months. It felt like discovering a diamond mine in my back yard. Phantoms, Lightning, and A Bad Place were all just amazing. So I was excited about a new release by him.
Funhouse in not the quality of the other Koontzes I've listened to.
The book started out strong. I loved the first couple chapters. It was creepy and I was instantly invested and excited for the ride.
The two girl characters who were the main characters in the 2nd half of the book were annoying. They were young and dumb and uninteresting, so I didn't care what happened to them.
The action and the bad guys were interesting. The development of the story was good. I believed in the "evilness" of the bad guy. He carried the story well.
There was either too much editing, or the writing was lazy, because there were big details and big moments missing. There was no wrap up in the end of what happened to the characters. The story was missing those big, satisfying moments where all is revealed and everyone faces off.
The ending was disappointing due to that lack of wrap-up.
I didn't like the narration from the start. She was slow, whiny, and amateurish. I think she made the annoying characters even more annoying. I was glad it was over so I wouldn't have to hear her voice any longer.
This review is harsh for a book I still give 3 stars. The harshness comes because of my high expectations and disappointment because I love Koontz so much. If this book had been by a new, unknown author, I still would have given it 3 stars, but I wouldn't have been more forgiving with the flaws.

42 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda Lou
  • 19-07-15

HEED THE REVIEWS! NO WONDER IT WAS A "DAILY DEAL!

Would you try another book from Dean Koontz and/or Karen Peakes?

Nope!

What do you think your next listen will be?

Anything NOT written by Dean Koontz!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

She wasn't a good fit for this creepy-not-in-a-good way book. She seems to be new to narrating but even a master like Simon Vance couldn't have saved this mess!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

A gag reflex worthy of Kim Kardashian! Dry heaves, almost throwing up in my mouth, then screaming at my iPhone, then fast-forwarding to the next chapter.

Any additional comments?

OK, seriously, this is not what I expected from Dean Koontz. This was the time I tried one of his works after 60 years of reading over tens of thousands of books. First published in 1980, I don't know if this book is one of Koontz's first efforts or just a misfire in a long career of successful writing. I only bought it because it was on sale - usually I get lucky and find some real gems. But just as often I've gotten some real stinkers. This book is one of the worse in almost 3,000 Audible purchases. The story is so creepy that it made me want to take a bath about 30 minutes in. The whole traveling carnival story line with the requisite freaks and misfits is expected to be kinda scary. But this one is nasty, sick, sexually icky, and just plain awful. As if it was written by a pimplely buck-tooth teenaged boy with sticky pornographic magazines hidden under his mattress!! Like a 12 year-old Stephen King BEFORE he figured out the difference between frightening his readers or causing severe nausea! Or Jeffrey Dahmer's autobiography! And hearing this being narrated by a female who sounds like she should be a Nickleodean star made my skin crawl!!!!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dune
  • 17-06-15

Good book

I enjoyed the story but the narrators voices for characters was a bit over the top.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rhonda
  • 10-03-15

good but ended too soon

The book was good... it grabbed me from the outset and had me captive the entire time. I'm just disappointed with the end. Seems like Koontz got tired and gave up. So many loose ends... lots of places this book could have taken the reader at the end. Good read though.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J.O.
  • 21-02-15

Pretty Good

Easy read, not Koontz usual quality because there seemed to be some missing aspect to the story to make it stand out from standard horror writing.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen
  • 30-04-18

Early Koontz

This one is an oldy, worth the listen because it is Koontz and I don’t like to skip any, but definitely written early in his career

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • jeffrey
  • 09-01-17

great book.

i am a Koontz fan. not his best but as usual a great twist. he has a way of keeping me glued to the story long after i should be doing other terrible things.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth
  • 23-09-16

Ending was rushed and unsatisfying

What did you like best about The Funhouse? What did you like least?

I think the notion that "carny" life is secretive and a bit different; I think the end for Striker was just a total letdown.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The least interesting was the friend Liz; interesting aspect was that 2 women gave birth to these creatures, lived with them and that one of them took most of it in stride as if that happens everyday

Which character – as performed by Karen Peakes – was your favorite?

I think she did well as the main characters, the mother and the daughter

Did The Funhouse inspire you to do anything?

write this review

Any additional comments?

I find the fact that Liz calls her best friend "kid" constantly annoying. Teens don't usually do that. Also, the ending should have had some reconciliation between the mother and her past...sometimes Dean Koontz will have an epilogue where we find out what happened several months after the main story.