Dean Koontz knows exactly what story you'll be thinking about after the opening chapters of Innocence. His narrator-protagonist Addison Goodheart, a shunned outcast who lives alone deep below the city streets, comes up to the surface late one night and, making his way through the public library, catches sight of a haunting young woman fleeing an angry pursuer. Once the threat has passed, Addison figures out where she must be hiding and reaches out to her; she agrees to meet and talk with him. "I have no illusions about romance," he tells her during that first conversation. "Beauty and the Beast is a nice fairy tale, but fairy tales are for books."
Addison soon becomes Gwyneth's companion, but their relationship is heavily circumscribed. She forbids him even the most fleeting of physical contact, while he buries his face in a hooded sweatshirt and a scarf lest she catch a glimpse of his face. As we learn from the periodic flashbacks, there's something in Addison's appearance that so disgusts others that anyone who sees him is overcome by a murderous impulse.
Addison and Gwyneth's city, blanketed in snow, has an ethereal quality to it. The novel's highly detailed scenes feel tenuously connected to each other the way disparate elements coalesce in dreams. By the time we learn the truth about Addison's condition, so many of our initial assumptions have been upended it may feel as if we've been given a completely different book--what started out as a fairy tale has become something much more allegorical. --Ron Hogan, founder of Beatrice.com