By the Light of the Moon - Dean Koontz 4 1/2 stars. Two strangers, Jilly and Dylan, become linked when a mad scientist knocks them out and injects them with a strange serum while mumbling about the fact that they'll either go mad or be very much improved by his "stuff". He warns them that sinister killers will soon be after them if they don't hit the road asap. When Jilly discovers that her car, stolen by "Frankenstein" (as they dub him), has been torched with "Frankenstein" still inside she begins to take the dire warnings seriously. Dylan, an artist traveling around the country with his autistic brother Shephard, advises Jilly to join them on a mad ride away from the ominous, as yet unseen, baddies. And thus begins their life altering road trip.

The book, although a suspenseful road trip into the darkest corners of hell, shines because of its characters. Thirty year old Dylan has been the sole caretaker of his younger autistic brother Shep ever since their mother died tragically ten years earlier. Dylan is a kind soul who is eternally patient with his sometimes difficult brother and loves him unconditionally. His life has been shaped around caring for Shep and initially he's almost too good, too patient, and too kind to be believed but as the book progresses he becomes less of a saint. His transformation will change him in ways that shock, appall and amaze him. I found his character the most emotionally compelling. Jilly is a quirky comedian whose good humor hides a dark past. She travels with a houseplant named Fred (I kid you not) in lieu of a man. She and Fred have many enjoyable one-sided conversations and Jilly prefers his company to that of a real man. And then Dylan, a panicked and very bossy Dylan, comes into her life and instantly gets on her last nerve. Their initial sparring adds a bit of lightness to the tense plot but once they realize they've been altered by the "serum" and that they're truly on the run for their lives they learn to get along (and begin to like and respect each other) and the plot takes on a much more somber tone.

The story takes place over the span of what I believe is little more than 24 hours. But in that short time span these three characters lives will forever be changed. The "serum" gives them strange, awe and fear inspiring abilities and forces Dylan and Shep to face a very dark moment in their past that they've done their best to put behind them. It's creepy, and moving and continually takes unexpected twists into dark corners. The pace is fast though Koontz has a tendency to be a little too long winded and overly descriptive but I've come to expect this when I pick up a Koontz novel and it's sort of comical and comforting all at the same time.

I read this as an unabridged audiobook and the actor did a fine job. He had a strong, compelling voice that didn't set me to snoozing and he didn't do any of those cringe-worthy falsetto female voice performances that grate on my nerves. I always knew when Jilly or Dylan or Shep were speaking. The only downer? There's no famous Koontz dog character here! Instead we get Fred the plant. And Fred has about as much personality as, well, a houseplant. About halfway thru the story he's stuffed in the trunk never to be heard from again. Poor Fred, we hardly knew ye.

By the Light of the Moon was interesting, suspenseful and filled with characters I enjoyed and it made my stressful ride to work something I *almost* looked forward to.