Deanna Dwyer, Dance with the Devil (Prestige, 1972)
[originally posted 17Sep2001]
I always figured gothic romance novels were written by terminally horny college students with a passing interest in the occult and a strong desire to make money by any means necessary. Dean Koontz gave evidence of same in the early seventies by writing a few gothics (three, if memory serves) under the name Deanna Dwyer. Of the various forms of Koontziana out there, the Dwyers are the most collectible—and that’s saying something.
The books themselves are about what you’d expect—boy A meets girl, boy B meets girl, boy A gets jealous and accuses boy B of being the high priest of a Satanic animal-sacrificing cult who call up the devil in the woods… you know the drill. If you’ve read two Barbara Cartland books, you know the routine, including the supposed twist ending common to just about every romance novel I’ve ever read. But man, this stuff is funny. (As an amusing sidelight, it becomes obvious– when you’re looking– that Koontz has a romance background. Compare and contrast the romantic relationships in Koontz’ superstar-era novels with those in King…) ** ½