The Book of Counted Sorrows coverThe Book of Counted Sorrows was released as an e-book with Barnes and Noble. It was published as a regular book by Charnel House (limited edition of 1,250 copies) in 2003.  The book is not just the epigraphs (below) from his books; he "also offers a history of the book's past owners interwoven with a narrative tour of Koontz Manor, using himself as the main character.  The book is alternately witty, outrageous, bewildering, eerie, and laugh-out-loud funny."

The Book of Counted Sorrows was also published in ereader form and in paperback, but appears to no longer be available in those formats.

By the Light of the Moon
Cold Fire
Dark Rivers of the Heart
Darkfall / Darkness Comes
Demon Seed
Dragon Tears
False Memory
Fear Nothing
Mr. Murder
Odd Thomas
One Door Away from Heaven
Sole Survivor
The Bad Place
The Mask
The Servants of Twilight

Twilight Eyes
Winter Moon
from "Twilight Eyes"

Numberless paths of night
wind away from twilight.


Something moves within the night
that is not good and is not right.


The whisper of the dusk
is night shedding its husk.

from "The Mask"

Evil is faceless strangers,
living in distant neighborhood.
Evil has a wholesome, hometown face,
with merry eyes and an open smile.
Evil walks among us, wearing a mask
which looks like all our faces.
from "Winter Moon"

Beaches, surfers, California girls.
Wind scented with fabulous dreams.
Bougainvillea, groves of oranges.
Stars are born, everything gleams.

A weather change. Shadows fall.
New scent upon the wind - - decay.
Cocaine, Uzis, drive-by shootings.
Death is a banker. Everyone pays.


Under the winter moon's pale light,
across the cold and starry night,
from snowy mountains soaring high
to ocean shores echoes the cry.
From barren sands to verdant fields,
from city street to lonely wealds,
cries the tortured human heart,
seeking solace, wisdom, a chart
by which to understand its plight
under the winter moon's pale light.
Dawn is unable to fade the night.
Must we live ever in the blight
under the winter moon's cold light,
lost in loneliness, hate, and fright,
last night, tonight, tomorrow night
under the winter moon's bleak light?
from "Hideaway"

In the fields of life, a harvest
sometimes comes far out of season,
when we thought the earth was old
and could see no earthly reason
to rise for work at break of dawn,
and put our muscles to the test.
With winter here and autumn gone,
it just seems best to rest, to rest.
But under winter fields so cold,
wait the dormant seeds of seasons
unborn, and so the heart does hold
hope that heals all bitter lesions.
In the fields of life, a harvest.

Life is a gift that must be given back,
and joy should arise from its possession.
It's too damned short, and that's a fact.
Hard to accept, this earthly procession
to final darkness is a journey done,
circle completed, work of art sublime,
a sweet melodic rhyme, a battle won.


Death is no fearsome mystery.
He is well known to thee and me.
He hath no secrets he can keep,
to trouble any good man's sleep.

Turn not thy face from Death away.
Care not he takes our breath away.
Fear him not, he's not thy master,
rushing at thee faster, faster.
Not thy master but servant to
the Maker of thee, what or Who
created Death, created thee.
from "Dragon Tears"

Rush headlong and hard at life
or just sit at home and wait.
All things good and all the wrong
will come right to you: it's fate.

Hear the music, dance if you can.
Dress in rage or wear your jewels.
Drink your choice, nurse your fear
in this old honkytonk of fools.

Living in the modern age,
death for virtue is the wage.
So it seems in darker hours.
Evil wins, kindness cowers.

Ruled by violence and vice
we all stand upon thin ice.
Are we brave or are we mice,
here upon such thin, thin ice?

Dare we linger, dare we skate ?
Dare we laugh or celebrate,
knowing we may strain the ice?
Preserve the ice at any price?

When tempest-tossed,
embrace chaos.


Faraway in China,
the people sometimes say,
life is often bitter
and all too seldom gray.
Bitter as a dragon tears,
great cascades of sorrow
flood down all the years,
drowning our tomorrows.

Faraway in China,
the people always say,
life is sometimes joyous
if all too often gray.
Although life is seasoned
with bitter dragon tears,
seasoning is just a spice
within our brew of years.
Bad times are only rice,
tears are one more flavor,
that gives us sustenance
sometimes we can savor.

Those who would banish the sin of greed
embrace the sin of envy as their creed.
Those who seek to banish envy as well,
only draw elaborate new maps of hell.

Those with passion to change the world,
look of themselves as saints, as pearls,
and by the launching of noble endeavor,
flee dreaded introspection forever.
from "Cold Fire"

Nowhere can a secret keep
always secret, dark and deep,
half so well as in the past,
buried deep to last, to last.

Keep it in your own dark heart,
otherwise the rumors start.
After many years have buried
secrets over which you worried,
no confidant can then betray
all the words you didn't say.

Only you can then exhume
secrets safe within the tomb
of memory, of memory.


In the real world
as in dreams,
nothing is quite
what it seems.

Vibrations in a wire.
Ice crystals
in a beating heart.
Cold fire.

A mind's frigidity:
frozen steel,
dark rage, morbidity.
Cold fire

Defense against
a cruel life
death and strife:
Cold fire


Life without meaning
cannot be borne.
We find a mission
to which we're sworn
- - or answer the call
of Death's dark horn.
Without a gleaning
of purpose in life,
we have no vision,
we live in strife,
- - or let blood fall
on a suicide knife.
from "Intensity"

Hope is the destination that we seek.
Love is the road that leads to hope.
Courage is the motor that drives us.
We travel out of darkness into faith.
from "Midnight"

Where eerie figures caper
to some midnight music
that only they can hear.
from "Dark Rivers of the Heart"

All of us are travelers lost,
our tickets arranged at a cost
unknown but beyond our means.
This odd itinerary of scenes
- -enigmatic, strange, unreal- -
leaves us unsure how to feel.
No postmortem journey is rife
with more mystery than life.

Tremulous skeins of destiny
flutter so ethereally
around me- -but then I feel
its embrace is that of steel.


On the road that I have taken,
one day, walking, I awaken,
amazed to see where I have come,
where I'm going, where I'm from.

This is not the path I thought.
This is not the place I sought.
This is not the dream I bought,
just a fever of fate I've caught.

I'll change highways in a while,
at the crossroads, one more mile.
My path is lit by my own fire.
I'm going only where I desire.

On the road that I have taken,
one day, walking, I awaken.
One day, walking, I awaken,
on the road that I have taken.

from "The Servants of Twilight"

Pestilence, disease, and war
haunt this sorry place.
And nothing lasts forever;
that's a truth we have to face.

We spend vast energy and time
plotting death for one another.
No one, nowhere, is ever safe.
Not father, child or mother.


Is the end of the world a-coming ?
Is that the Devil they hear humming?
Are those doomsday bell a-ringing?
Is that the Devil they hear singing?

Or are their dark fears exaggerated ?
Are these doom-criers addlepated ?

Those who fear the coming of all Hells
are those who should be feared themselves.


There's no escape
from death's embrace,
though you lead it on
a merry chase.

The dog of death
enjoy the chase.
Just see the smile
on each hound's face.

The chase can't last;
the dogs must feed.
It will come to pass
with terrifying speed.


The hounds, the hounds
come baying at his heels.
The hounds ! The hounds !
The breath of death he feels.

from "Mr. Murder"

At the point where hope and reason part,
lies the spot where madness gets a start.
Hope to make the world kinder and free - -
but flowers of hope root in reality.

No peaceful bed exists for lamb or lion,
unless on some world out beyond Orion.
Do not instruct the owls to spare the mice.
Owls acting as owls must is not a vice.

Storms do not respond to heartless pleas.
All the words of men can't calm the seas.
Nature - - always beneficial and cruel - -
won't change for a wise man or a fool.

Mankind shares all Nature's imperfections,
clearly visible to casual inspections.
Resisting betterment is the human trait.
The ideal of utopia is our tragic fate.


Winter that year was strange and gray.
The damp wind smelled of Apocalypse,
and morning skies had a peculiar way
of slipping cat-quick into midnight.


Those who would banish the sin of greed
embrace the sin of envy as their creed.
Those who seek to banish envy as well,
only draw elaborate new maps of hell.

Those with passion to change the world,
look on themselves as saints, as pearls,
and by the launching of noble endeavor,
flee dreaded introspection forever.

from "Darkfall/Darkness Comes"

Holy men tell us life is a mystery.
They embrace that concept happily.
But some mysteries bite and bark
And come to get you in the dark.

A rain of shadows, a storm, a squall !
Daylight retreats; night swallows all.
If good is bright, if evil is gloom,
High evil walls the world entombs.
Now comes the end, the drear, Darkfall.

Darkness devours every shining day.
Darkness demands and always has its way.
Darkness listens, watches, waits.
Darkness claims the day and celebrates.
Sometimes in silence darkness comes.
Sometimes with a gleeful banging of drums.
We can embrace love; it's not too late.
Why do we sleep, instead,, with hate?
Belief requires no suspension
To see that Hell is our invention.
We make Hell real; we stoke its fires.
And in its flames our hope expires.
Heaven, too, is merely our creation.
We can grant ourselves out own salvation.
All that's required is imagination.
from "Sole Survivor"

The sky is deep, the sky is dark,
the light of stars is so damn stark.
When I look up, I fill with fear.
If all we have is what lies here,
this lonely world, this troubled place,
then cold dead stars and empty space….
well, I see no reason to persevere,
no reason to laugh or shed a tear,
no reason to sleep or ever to wake,
no promises to keep, and none to make.
And so at night I still raise my eyes
to study the clear but mysterious skies- -
that arch above us, as cold as stone.
Are you there, God? Are we alone?
from "Strangers"

Is there some meaning to this life?
What purpose lies behind the strife?
Whence do we come, where are we bound?
These cold questions echo and resound
through each day, each lonely night.
We long to find the splendid light
that will cast a revelatory beam
upon the meaning of the human dream.


Courage, love, friendship,
compassion, and empathy
lift us above the simple beasts
from "Shadowfires"

Night has patterns that can be read
less by the living than by the dead.


A gasp of breath,
a sudden death:
The tale begun.


To know the darkness is to love the light,
to welcome dawn and fear the coming night.


Night can be sweet as a kiss,
though not a night like this.

from "Fear Nothing"

We have a weight to carry
and a distance we must go.
We have a weight to carry
a destination we can't know.
We have a weight to carry
and can put it down nowhere.
We *are* the weight we carry
from there to here to there.
from "Ticktock"

To see what we have never seen,
to be what we have never been.
To shed the chrysalis and fly,
depart the earth, kiss the sky,
to be reborn, be someone new:
is this a dream or is it true.

Can our future be cleanly shorn
from a life to which we're born?
Is each of us a creature free - 
or trapped at birth by destiny?
Pity those who believe the latter.
Without freedom, nothing matters.


In the real world
as in dreams
nothing is quite
what it seems.

from "Demon Seed"

Humanity yearns so desperately
to equal God's great creativity.
In some creations, how we shine:
music, dance, stiryweaving, wine.

Then thunderstorms of madness
rain upon us, flooding sadness,
sweep us into anguish, grief,
into despair without relief.

We're drawn to high castles,
where old hunchbacked 
vassals glare wall-eyed as lightning
flares without brightening.

Laboratories in the high towers,
where the doctor wields power,
creating new life in a dark hour,
in the belfry of the high tower.

from "By the Light of the Moon"

Now take my hand and hold it tight.
I will not fail you here tonight.
For failing you, I fail myself
And place my soul upon a shelf
In Hell's library without light.
I will not fail you here tonight.
from "False Memory"

Whiskers of the cat,
webbed toes on my swimming dog:
God is in the details.


In the real world
as in dreams,
nothing is quite
what it seems.
from "One Door Away from Heaven"

One door away from Heaven,
We live each day and hour.
One door away from Heaven,
But it lies beyond our power
To open the door to Heaven
And enter when we choose.
One door away from Heaven,
And the key is ours to lose.
One door away from Heaven,
But, oh, the entry dues.

From "Odd Thomas"

Hope requires the contender
Who sees no virtue in surrender.
From the cradle to the bier,
The heart must persevere.

from "The Bad Place"

Every eye sees its own special vision,
every ear hears a most different song.
In each man's troubled heart, an incision
would reveal a unique, shameful wrong.

Stranger fiends hide here in human guise
than reside in the valleys of Hell.
But goodness, kindness and love arise
in the heart of the poor beast, as well.


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Copyright © 1973, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003 Dean R. Koontz. All rights reserved.