Dean Kunz “Where We Are Not” Books, Book Reviews

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Jeffy and his eleven-year-old daughter Emity live in the small California town of Suavidad Beach. Michelle – Emmy’s mother and wife Jeffy – one day just disappears. Jeffy takes care of his daughter, goes to work and from time to time sits on the porch with the homeless Ed Harkenbach, a harmless old man. Everything changes the moment Ed brings Jeffy a strange object called the Key and tells him to hide it – they’re hunting for him. And indeed, the subject is priceless – you can use it to travel to parallel worlds… Soon Jeffy and Emmy embark on incredible adventures, experiencing horrors that are hard to imagine – all in order to eventually reunite their family. Or not.

Dean Koontz
Genre: fantasy horror
The release of the original: 2020
Translator: A. Poloshak
Publishers: “Alphabet”, “Alphabet-Atticus”, 2022
Series: «The Big Book. Dean Kunz »
Age rating: 16+
416 pp., 4000 copies.
Looks like:
Gillian Flynn “Disappeared”
Jana Lett “Anna’s Absence”

Dean Kunz is one of the popular masters of horror, and his new novel, Where We Are Not, is a large-scale, disturbing story that keeps you in suspense until the last page. A story about parallel worlds, dangerous secrets and family values ​​- but mostly, oddly enough, about the latter.

The story is told on behalf of all the participants in the events – they all tell about what is happening on their part, and the reader makes his way to their heads and souls in turn. Kunz is generous in his emotions, he shows equally honestly and in detail the inner world of a man longing for his missing wife, a girl-dreamer, and a murderer-sadist. From this goosebumps run under the skin.

And “Where We Are Not” is a story as cinematic as possible for a literary work. It’s as if she’s asking for a movie screen. Sounds, light, battles with monsters, chases… Everything that we appreciate good thriller adaptations, most visibly appears in our imagination. Each scene is like a well-thought-out and well-constructed picture.

Dean Kunz manages to convey the feeling of constant persecution, the feeling of horror behind his back, especially well. The heroes are on the run all the time, there is not a single minute when someone chases after them. In their own world, they are in mortal danger under the supervision of special services, other worlds are even worse. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the heroes do not know what orders and laws reign in parallel worlds until they come face to face with them. But Jeffy and Emmy, and then Michelle, who joined them, show miracles of courage, and the reader, worried about them, goes all the way with them – or rather, runs next to them.

The peculiarity of Kunz’s heroes is their recognizability. We all know Jeffy, whether it’s our neighbors, our colleagues, or maybe ourselves. Emity is an ordinary child who grows up without a mother, but reads fiction novels where women act on an equal footing with men. Ed is a mad genius, Michelle is a fragile woman, and there are too many sadists like Falkirk in this world.

Maybe there’s too much family here for the thriller – and too much light. Therefore, the novel is more like a fantastic adventure. After all, although mortal danger awaits at every corner, the heroes again and again manage to escape from it. It turns out that they are too well prepared for ordinary people. Maybe it’s the result of reading a lot of science fiction books and morning jogs? Otherwise, how do they manage to escape from monsters from other worlds?

At the same time, Dean Kunz withstands suspense well, so the book is quick and easy to read, but keeps you in suspense until the very end. The reader, together with the characters, does not know what the next world will be like, where the enemy will come from this time and how many reflections there are not only of the worlds, but also of people.

I would also like to note not only the large-scale – and at the same time chamber – idea of ​​the author, but also the work of the translator; he managed to preserve the tension of the original and at the same time bring to the text the melody inherent in the Russian language. Lyrical notes overshadow the horror of what is happening, and the book becomes voluminous.

The result“Where We Are Not” is an off-cycle novel, so it’s a great way to get to know Dean Kunz’s work and decide for yourself whether it’s right for you as an author or not. In any case, several hours of intense travel through parallel, scary and bizarre worlds are guaranteed.

Not a day goes by without a line

There was a time when Kunz published five or seven novels a year. And although his writing itch faded with age, Kunz is still quite prolific: he tries to publish two novels a year. However, since last year the venerable author is limited to only one.

She read a lot of fantasy novels – both alone and together with Dad. Both preferred works in which female characters were as tireless and courageous adventurers as male ones. From these heroines, Emity learned that you need to be strong and independent. From their example, she learned that man has a right to fear. The main thing is not to let fear deprive you of strength and presence of mind.

Dean Kunz “Where We Are Not”

Is it worth reading?

Worth it if you love good thrillers and family dramas, generously enriched by chases and travels between worlds.

Good luck

concept of parallel measurements

bright, recognizable characters

fascinating plot

competent suspense


too sentimental for a thriller

About the author


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