One Door Away from Heaven

One Door Away from Heaven

I’m not really a fan of the thriller/suspense/horror genre. I’ll make an exception for Dean Koontz. His books remind me of what I recall Dorothy Sayers saying of the detective novel: it is a genre which allows good to be truly attractive and evil to show its true ugliness. Good is reward, evil is punished; it’s the happy ending we all long for but which few of us will find this side of heaven.

So far every Dean Koontz book I’ve read has been steeped in a Catholic sensibility. The heroes and heroines enjoy good food, good conversation, companionship of their fellow men and of animals too and simple pleasures like gardening. But especially the food. Koontz’s books are filled with glorious meals.

And Koontz’s villains highlight the evils particular to our age. In this novel the arch-villain is a utilitarian bioethicist. Tell me where else are you going to find a work of fiction which dramatizes what that particular philosophy does to the human spirit?

The other thing I loved about this novel was a boy whose psychic connection with his dog reveals that the dog in her innocence “lives always with the awareness of her Maker’s presence.”

The boy recognizes the Presence everywhere around him, not confined to one bosk of ferns or one pool of shadows, but resonant in all things. He feels what otherwise he has only known through faith and common sense, feels for one sweet devastating moment what only the innocent can feel: the exquisite rightness of creation from shore to shore across the sea of stars, a clear ringing in the heart that chases out all fears and every anger, a sense of belonging, purpose, hope, an awareness of being loved.

Mere joy gives way to rapture, and the boy’s awe grows deeper, an awe lacking any quality of terror, but so filled with wonder and with liberating humility that his trembling swells into shakes that seem to clang his heart against the bell of his ribs. At the moment when rapture becomes peals of bliss, his shaking wakes the dog.

For all that, though, Koontz never preaches sermons at you. His slant is always pro-life but the message is embedded in the hearts of the characters and unfolds in their actions and choices not in their conversation. I imagine his message reaches many souls who would never knowingly listen to a Christian discoursing on the subject; but because they are packaged as light entertainment have a much much greater chance of being heard by those who need to hear it than do many more explicitly Christian works.

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  • My kids have done the same. My son begged for marmalade after reading/hearing the Paddington stories. Wait till she starts repeating Pooh’s hums!

  • It’s a funny thing. I don’t remember asking for anything out of my favorite stories as a child, but I always remembered those things and often tried them as an adult.

  • Elizabeth,
    She hasn’t been doing the hums; but today we did identify her saying, “Ho! Ho!” from the story where Rabbit, Pooh and Piglet have a plan to oust Kanga from the forest that involves Piglet impersonating Roo and then jumping out from her pouch and saying, “Ho! Ho!”

    I look forward to the hums. What fun!


  • How funny!  I must admit I ended up doing an internet search for to find out what “buttered eggs” were, after reading John Masefield’s Box of Delights.