This book of short stories was one of the first books published by Koontz, a guy who has kind of ascended to master of the suspense genre over the decades. These stories had all been published in magazines before, but this was one of his very first books. The stories are extremely variable; some of them are quite good, others quite bad. It’s interesting to see just how psychedelic and weird Koontz’ early writing was, very unlike the more straightforward genre fiction he moved into later. A Darkness In My Soul is so abstract as to kind of be incomprehensible; I had no idea what was even really happening. The best stories in the book are The Twelfth Bed and A Third Hand. In the former, a young man in his twenties accidentally gets locked in an automated ward where the elderly are sequestered by a future society; it’s very bleak and angry. A Third Hand is one of the most straight-forward stories in the book. It’s the story of a man so deformed and crippled that he can’t leave his house and must travel even within the house in an automated chair; when a close friend is murdered, he sets out to solve the murder and see the killers punished using only the power of his mind. The main character is really wonderful; he’s horribly disabled, but it’s almost irrelevant to what he thinks he can do, so confident is he in the power of the mind to control one’s existence. It’s just a really great sci-fi suspense and the climactic sequence of him being stalked by the killer himself is just a knockout. But of the eight stories in the book, those are the only two that really worked for me. Some others, like The Psychedelic Children, were passable, but, even at just a couple of hundred pages, it’s hardly worth taking the time for this one. 2 stars.
tl;dr – collection of early Koontz stories is undistinguished and strange, with only a couple of good stories. 2 stars.