Richard Laymon is the prolific author of more than 30 novels and 65 short stories which have been published in Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock and Cavalier. A Bram Stoker and Science Fiction Chronicle Award-winning author, his novels have been translated into fifteen languages.
Richard Laymon's works include more than sixty short stories and more than thirty novels, a few of which were published under the pseudonym Richard Kelly. However, despite praise from prominent writers from within the genre, including Stephen King and Dean Koontz, Laymon was little known in his homeland -- he enjoyed greater success in Europe, though, particularly in the United Kingdom -- until his affiliation with Leisure Books in 1999. The author largely viewed much of this as a product of the poorly re-edited and reconstructed first release of The Woods Are Dark, which had over 50 pages removed. The poor editing and unattractive cover art ruined his sales records after the success of The Cellar. The original and intended version of The Woods Are Dark was finally published in July of 2008 by Leisure Books and Cemetery Dance Publications after being reconstructed from the original manuscript by his daughter, Kelly.
His novel Flesh was named Best Horror Novel of 1988 by Science Fiction Chronicle, and both Flesh and Funland were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, as was his non-fiction work A Writer's Tale. He won this award posthumously in 2001 for The Traveling Vampire Show. His win was used as an answer for a question on the syndicated Jeopardy program.
The tribute anthology In Laymon's Terms was released by Cemetery Dance Publications during the summer of 2011. It featured short stories and non-fiction tribute essays by authors such as Bentley Little, Jack Ketchum, Gary Brandner, Edward Lee, and scores of others.
This was my first Ricard Laymon book. After hearing of the plot from a friend I immediately rushed out a bought a copy of this horrorific book. A recommendation, if you get attached to characters easily and CAN'T STAND to see them hurt...dont read this. One of Richard Laymon's (RIP) great strengths is his ability to create great characters and make you pull for them. This is a fast paced read, with a story centering around the Beast House and its past infamy. Murders, rapes, gores and horrors are the norm at this house, all handed out by the 'beast'. The characters all come into place very nicely with some gruesome sub-plots to boot. With every uncovered truth we the reader are horrified at what is happening, but are left not wanting to put the book down because you dont want to leave the character in such an evil situation. The ending in this book has to be the most gruesome, gory and uh,...most DISTURBING piece of literature I've ever read (and Ive read some crazy stuff). I was left thinking, this can be over! I was outraged. Then, when i found that this was only the first book in the series i raced out and bought the rest. Richard Laymon will be missed, he is the greatest and most under appreciated horror writer of our time. Give this book a chance, its a short read and worth the nightmares
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Laymon's work is so terse and hard-hitting that it's almost impossible to read it slowly. His prose style owes more to the 'hard-boiled' school of crime and mystery authors than to any traditional horror writers. This gives his best books more brute power than even hardened horror readers might expect. Sentences of sharp, brutal impact can leap off the page and strike the reader like open-handed slaps. 'The Cellar' is one of his best in that it couples this stripped-down readability with an absolutely merciless plot. At his peak, you can never tell how Laymon will end his tales, who will die, who will live and what will be left of them. The conclusion of 'The Cellar' is legendary and it thoroughly deserves this status. If you like horror fiction, be it Poe or Barker or Blackwood or Hutson, give this book a try. Nobody ever wrote quite like this before.
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For around two decades, from the early 1980s to his death in the early 21st Century, Richard Laymon produced his own brand of horror. Among his thirty-or-so novels, I have now read five: Resurrection Dreams, After Midnight, Into the Fire, Blood Games and now, The Cellar. This last book may very well be his first novel (based on the copyrights), but it is clearly a product of Laymon's imagination. And, generally speaking, that is a good thing.
The Cellar opens up (after a brief prologue) with Donna Hayes finding out that her ex-husband Roy has just been released from prison. Roy is a true villain with no redeeming value to speak of, and he is out for revenge against his former spouse. He also intends to take up again his "romance" with their pre-teen daughter, Sandy. With a few hours head start, Donna and Sandy flee to Northern California, where after a car accident, they find themselves stuck in the small town of Malcasa Point.
This town has one tourist feature, the Beast House, where some disturbing killings have taken place over the years. Fortunately, the creature that supposedly lurks within only goes come out at night and never leaves the house. Hence, during the day, it has tours. Larry Usher, one of the rare survivors of a Beast attack when he was a kid, finds he is still haunted by the creature; he recruits Jud, a mysterious mercenary, to take out the creature.
Eventually, the paths of all these characters will cross. It's obvious that Donna will eventually be trapped between Roy and the Beast and that romance will bloom between her and Jud, one of those virtuous assassins that seem to only exist in fiction.Read more ›
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I have rarely been this repulsed by the subject matter in a book, but I felt ill after reading many of the chapters involving detailed child molestation. As this was my first Laymon book, having bought it based upon an Amazon list maker's recommendation that it was a good "monster" novel, I had no idea Laymon had such a fascination with pedophelia. He spends long, detailed passages on the subject, almost in a lascivious enjoyment of the act. I'm sure some will defend his tale spinning as a common horror trope, but I was unprepared for the lengths to which he goes to detail the abuse the character Roy inflicts upon his victims.
By the end of the book, which is hardly a challenging read, you are so battered by the violence and the sexual depravity that you hope there's a decent denouement, but no such thing happens. I won't go into details, but the final "twist" is so contrived and ridiculous that you have to just shake your head and toss the book aside in disgust. The resolution of the conflict with Roy, in particular, is poor payment for the long, foul passages you have to endure earlier in the book.
I don't write many reviews, but almost like a form of literary ipecac, I feel I have to disgorge my revulsion to clear this book from my head. Awful, and as I said, not in a good way.