The Funhouse (novel)

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The Funhouse
The Funhouse cover Owen West.jpg
First edition
Author Dean Koontz (as Owen West)
Country United States
Language English
Genre Suspense, Mystery novel, Horror novel, Thriller
Publisher Jove Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 333 pp
ISBN 0-425-14248-5
OCLC 30373917
Preceded by The Key to Midnight
Followed by Whispers

The Funhouse is a 1980 novelization, by best-selling author Dean Koontz, of a Larry Block screenplay, which was made into the 1981 film The Funhouse, directed by Tobe Hooper. As the film production took longer than expected, the book was released before the film.

Koontz originally published the novel under the pseudonym Owen West.[1][2]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Ellen comes from a very religious background, where her mother ruled the house with strict Catholic traditions. After killing her first baby, Victor, and fleeing from her husband, she begins a new life in Royal City by marrying Paul Harper. Ellen raises her two children, Amy and Joey, with the same stringent rules that her mother used on her. She is haunted by the image of her first child and is constantly worried that her children may contain some of the evil qualities found in Victor. She drinks constantly to avoid these fears, and her habit increasingly affects her family's life.

Conrad is the owner of the carnival funhouse and was married to Ellen in his early twenties. After she murdered their son, he vowed revenge with the death of any future children she might have. With every new town the carnival arrives in, he looks out for any children resembling Ellen. Later he married and had a child with Madame Zena, the carnival fortune teller. They divorced due to his unpredictable temperament, but she helps with his search by obtaining information on children he suspects could be Ellen's. Conrad believes the evil found in his second son Gunther is a sign that the devil is helping him achieve revenge against God for taking Victor. After he obtains his revenge, he believes a new Dark Age will begin.

Amy Harper is Ellen's first child with Paul Harper and her only daughter. The beginning of the novel is concerned with Amy's decision to have an abortion after finding herself pregnant during her senior year of high school. Amy resents her overprotective mother and the lack of authority found in her father, but has become a popular and intelligent student regardless. She works at a local teen hangout where she often meets with her best friend Liz. Amy is very concerned about the consequences of her actions, and often questions her mother's accusations that she is evil.

Joey Harper is Ellen's second child with Paul Harper and Amy's younger brother. He attends the local elementary school, and is fascinated by scary stories and movies. Amy is the only positive family member for Joey, and he constantly seeks her approval. Joey decides to run away after his mother throws away his monster models and orders him to take down his movie posters. She occasionally comes to his room after drinking heavily and mumbles to herself while thinking he is asleep. Joey has heard her talk of killing someone named Victor, and is afraid that she will kill him as well. It is Joey's goal to become a carnival worker and leave Royal City for good. Ellen's memory is drowned in alcohol and prayers, neither of which will save her kids when the carnival comes back to town.


  • Ellen Harper - mother of Amy and Joey
  • Conrad Straker - owner and barker of the carnival funhouse
  • Amy Harper - Ellen's daughter
  • Joey Harper - Amy's younger brother
  • Ghost - carnival employee
  • Gunther - carnival employee and Conrad's second son
  • Paul Harper - Ellen's husband
  • Madame Zena - carnival fortune teller
  • Liz - friend of Amy
  • Buzz - Amy's date to the carnival
  • Richie - Liz's boyfriend
  • Marco the Magnificent - carnival magician
  • Victor - Conrad and Ellen's baby


External links[edit]