- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Gardners Books (June 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747235481
- ISBN-13: 978-0747235484
- Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.3 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Stake Paperback – June, 1991
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In an abandoned hotel in a California ghost town, horror writer Larry and his friends make a chilling discovery. By chance they stumble across a naked woman in a coffin with a stake driven through her heart. Was she a vampire or the victim of a gruesome murder?
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Horror writer Larry Dunbar, his wife, and their married friends Pete and Barbara visit a ghost town where they discover the mummified body of a female with a stake through her heart beneath the stairs in an abandoned hotel. Pete convinces Larry to write a non-fiction book about vampires, and unbeknownst to their wives, the two conspire to sneak back into town, steal the coffin, hide the body in Larry's attic, and stage a PR stunt to film the removal of the stake. Larry identifies the body as the former `68 Spirit Queen at his daughter's high school by her class ring. Meanwhile, Larry's teenage daughter Lane's growing attraction to her English teacher Hal Kramer results in disaster when the man turns out to be a serial rapist. The story interweaves Larry's and Lane's stories which intersect in the final chapters for a surprisingly tame (if somewhat unbelievable) ending that lacks usual overload of gratuitous gore.
Laymon has developed a pattern for creating seemingly intelligent, well-adjusted characters who make unbelievably stupid decisions for plot continuity, and The Stake is no exception. If readers can swallow the idea that Larry--an intelligent, successful author with a wife and child--allows his friend Pete to pressure him into stealing a corpse and sneaking it into his attic for the purpose of researching his book--then they probably won't mind his obsessive attention to Pete's wife Barbara or his lustful fantasies about Bonnie--the corpse (based on her high school photo, not her mummified remains--although the latter is not outside realm of possibility for Laymon novels). Fans of Laymon will not be surprised by the Larry's voyeuristic descriptions of the women, a prevalent trait of male characters within the author's novels, but often, Larry's lustful thoughts occur in the midst of life-threatening or suspenseful moments, which strain the suspension of disbelief.
Despite these flaws, The Stake is well-written with engaging dialogue, and if readers can overlook the unlikely choices of its characters, the story rolls along as a quick pace. Throw in the token "wild man of Borneo-style" character in the form of Uriah--the vampire-hunting madman--and you've got a decent story. Readers new to the author who like vampire tales may want to start with one of his slam-dunk hits like The Traveling Vampire Show.
I love how Laymon builds in real-life terror from human monsters in his tales. In this one, Larry becomes so obsessed with the corpse that he not only starts dreaming about her, he totally overlooks some very serious things going on with his wife and daughter. Teen daughter, Lane, finds herself fighting something far worse than a potential vampire. THE STAKE is quite a unique vampire tale. It's fun, it's suspenseful, it shows the true monsters for what they really are. This is a great book for any horror, vampire, or suspense fan. Try it, you won't regret it!