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The Traveling Vampire Show Mass Market Paperback – March 10, 2001

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books (March 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843948507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843948509
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like the vampire he celebrates so often (Stake, etc.), this talented writer's career, once dead in the States though not overseas, has risen anew--thanks largely to Cemetery Dance, which has issued his work (Cuts; Come Out Tonight; etc.) even as no mainstream American hardcover publisher would touch it. The author's fall after his successful run in the 1980s was due to several factors, including his writerly predilection toward excess sex and violence. Here, Laymon takes those elements in hand, not so much abjuring them as putting them to artful use as he tells a wickedly involving story of three 16-year-olds and their life-changing encounter with the road show of the title. It's hot August 1963 when narrator Dwight, along with his pals--overweight Rusty and pretty (female) Slim--note flyers for the Traveling Vampire Show, featuring a purported real vampire, Valeria. Intrigued, the trio sneak onto the backwoods site of the show and there tangle with a vicious dog; after the others leave, Slim watches the spooky show troupe spear the mongrel to death. This, plus a long buildup to the show (spinning on whether troupe members are after the teens) forms most of the long narrative. Unusual for Laymon, the emphasis is on atmosphere rather than action, and he sustains a note of anticipatory dread throughout, made particularly resonant through his expert handling of the social, particularly sexual, tensions among the three teens. The novel's climax is the show itself, and here Laymon lets out the stops in typically ferocious fashion. In its understanding of the sufferings and ecstasies of youth, the novel carries some of the wisdom of King's The Body or Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, but the book, Laymon's best in years, belongs wholly to this too-neglected author, who with his trademark squeaky-clean yet sensual prose, high narrative drive and pitch-dark sense of humor has crafted a horror tale that's not only emotionally true but also scary and, above all, fun.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the latest novel from Laymon (The Midnight Tour), 16-year-old Dwight and his two pals, male Rusty and female Slim, decide to add some excitement to an otherwise boring summer day in 1963 by sneaking into "The Traveling Vampire Show." This adults-only act, featuring "Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity," is visiting their rural town of Grandville for just one night. Dwight narrates the events of that day, all the way through to the terrifying finale. The three friends are for the most part typical teens, but they are tested that day in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Although the protagonists are high school age, this novel is so replete with graphic sexual situations and violence that it would not be suitable for young adult collections. It is, however, a well-written story that will appeal to fans of horror fiction. Recommended for large public libraries.DPatricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, MD
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Action/Adventure/Suspense/Horror/Romance, this book covers the gamut.
The end of the book is a true pleasure, but only because the journey is engaging and you care so much about the main characters.
Frank Burke
The story doesn't come alive until the last fifty pages of a four hundred page book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Adam Craig on March 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Laymon is one of those writers that you either have to love or hate. There really is no middle ground when it comes to a book like The Traveling Vampire Show, or any of Laymon's books. When there is this much graphic violence and vivid sexuality within any novel, a bunch of readers are going to be turned off immediately. Granted, most avid horror readers will easily be able to handle the material within a Laymon novel, but some leisurely readers who just "heard he's good" could be getting themselves into something that they really have no idea about. The Traveling Vampire Show fits directly into that category. A graphic, unflinching story about three best friends, and their journey over the course of one hot summer day to get in to see the Traveling Vampire Show, and the main attraction, the gorgeous, beguiling, and lethal Valeria.

The story begins fairly peacefully, with the three friends, Slim, Rusty, and Dwight, uniting in the early morning to journey out to Janks Field to try and catch a glimpse of Valeria during the set up. As the trio journeys out to the field, we are treated to a creepy backstory about Janks field, and why it is so reviled by the community. Once the gang gets to the field, only to find it abandoned, they are attacked by a lethal dog, and must take refuge atop the snack stand. This is just the first of many strange, creepy events that will happen to the teens throughout the course of a single day. As the day grows old, and the show nears, Laymon succeeds in building an extremely creepy atmosphere to build up everything to an insane climax at the show, when, as any intelligent reader would know, all hell breaks loose.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scott on February 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Laymon's latest, and possibly final, book was my first Richard Laymon novel. I loved it.
At its core, 'The Traveling Vampire Show' is a coming-of-age novel. It follows three teenagers, protagonist Dwight, abused teenage girl Slim, and the annoying, adolescent Rusty. Dwight, Slim, and Rusty set a goal of seeing the Traveling Vampire Show when it comes to town. Although the entirety of the book takes place over one day, the three teenagers face many adversities that they must overcome. By the end of the novel the protagonist is considerably older, wiser, and much more experienced in life than he was at the beginning.
I was disappointed when I started this book when I realized that it was not going to have a considerable vampire presence. But after I started reading I was drawn into the characters. Laymon's writing fascinated me, so much so that I read 400 pages in one sitting. I could not put the book down. Mesmerizing.
By the time the final climactic scene rolled around, I knew that I had to finish the book, no matter how late it was (1:00 AM). The final scene makes it all worthwhile, wrapping up the entire novel with great closure. Laymon writes an elegant book. His characters learn and grow (something that all too often is lost in modern literature). The characters are very real and lifelike. This was one I was sad to put down.
This isn't a typical horror novel. This is a novel. I was touched by the characters. I was elated by their discoveries and dismayed by heartache. My words can't do justice to this novel. Highly recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Fletcher on August 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're a fan of the coming-of-age horror novel, if you liked Stephen King's "It," Robert McCammon's "Boy's Life," or Dan Simmons' "Summer of Night," you've got to read this book.
This is the second book I've ever read by Richard Laymon (I read "Night Show" years ago), but after this one, I'm going to have to seek out some more of his books. It's too bad he passed away this year and won't be giving us anymore really good books like "The Traveling Vampire Show".
TVS is not a perfect book. I would agree with some parts of the negative reviews on this page. Some of the characters, especially the villains, could have used some more fleshing out, but there's too much that's good about this novel not to give it five stars. I like to try to read at least one good "summer" horror novel each year, and this one is certainly it for 2001.
The main characters, especially Slim and Dwight, are interesting and emotionally involving. Best of all, Laymon really succeeds at creating an imaginative world in this novel that you just don't want to leave.
I remember lying in my bed for hours on end each summer morning after waking up the year Stephen King's "It" came out, when I was thirteen. The book was so good, I didn't want to do anything but read all day. I felt some of that again with this book.
It's true that Laymon's not as poetic as Bradbury, as consistently good as King, or as emotionally moving as McCammon, but there are elements of all of these styles mixed together in this novel. And that makes for a pretty good concoction, in my book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Rux on April 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not ordinarily that big a fan of Laymon, but this is a great book that exceeds its genre. While it is a horror novel, it is far more a coming of age story focusing on a small number of teenage characters in 1963. The entire story takes place in a single day and night in August, which turns out to be one of those critical days in the characters' maturation - not to mention a wild and hairy ride, not only for them, but many others in their town before it's out.
Laymon ordinarily turns on too much gore for the average reader, but here he shows admirable restraint - at least, until the nail-biting finale. The majority of the book simply chronicles the small-town daily existence of three schoolfriends, and some of their family and acquaintances, into whose mundane lives arrives The Traveling Vampire Show. The three are underage, and the mere fact that The Traveling Vampire Show is for adults only makes it all the more a siren's call to them: its central attraction is "Valeria," the one - the only - living vampire in the world; who, needless to say, doesn't wear much, and promises to take off more.
Laymon's style is humorous and lively, and quite engaging. The only flaw with the book is that it wraps-up too quickly, not tying all the various story strands together that it has brought into play. It could have used an epilogue. There are some fascinating characters developed who simply disappear at the end of the story, aren't mentioned again, or who undergo a dramatic change that is dealt with in a mere sentence, when more space than that is really required for full satisfaction.
Still, this is a wonderful roller-coaster ride of a book, with universal appeal in its treatment of the central characters.
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