“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” –ascribed to Mary Flannery O’Connor
It’s hard to know where to start with describing Dean Koontz. He made himself widely known as a Catholic author a few years back in a set of interviews with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo. Prior to that, he was known mostly as Stephen King’s closest competitor for volume of work as a suspense/thriller/horror novelist. (Indeed, the length of the man’s bibliography is jaw-dropping.) Is he a serious novelist or a schlockmeister? A subtle commentator on the human condition or an exploiter of cheap thrills? Maybe a competitor with Michael Voris for worst Catholic haircut?
Before being introduced to the Odd Thomas series, my only exposure to Mr. Koontz’s work was his 1988 novel Lightning, a mostly forgotten but interesting time travel story. The protagonist Odd Thomas is an unusual sort of action hero: young, humble, self-deprecating, and able to see dead people. This series has some intriguing (if unsubtle) explorations of moral themes and modern problems.
Thankfully, Dr. Stephen Mirarchi, an English professor at Benedictine College, has written up a short exploration of the Odd Thomas series, focusing on its Catholic themes:
Like many great Catholic authors before him, Koontz knows that writers who are believers get it wrong when they try to represent the divine in their works as a departed God, not substantially present among us at all times. One thinks of Flannery O’Connor’s famous line about the Eucharist: “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” Koontz instead embraces the “hidden in plain sight” view of literature—an “Adoro Te Devote” (“I devoutly adore you”) kind of writing that delivers the substance of Catholic teaching under the species of ordinary literary devices. Koontz writes Odd as a character who, in light of the Catholic tradition, responds to the extraordinary gift of seeing souls in Purgatory by taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—the evangelical counsels that keep Odd’s life simple, and his heart ready to serve, as he often reminds us with an amusing aside. Odd doesn’t call them that, in so many words, but Koontz’s depiction is something more than implicit, even as it’s just short of explicit—hidden in plain view.
Please do read the whole article over at the Homiletic & Pastoral Review site.