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The Traveling Vampire Show Hardcover – May, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 234 customer reviews

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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.

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 540 pages
  • Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications; First Edition edition (May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587670003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587670008
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,764,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Traveling Vampire Show marked my third trip into Laymon Country, a trip I swore I would never make after my second venture, The Cellar, but I was urged to pick this up by a friend because it was unlike any of his others. Reluctantly, I agreed to give it a try. Having finished it, I have decided to burn my passport and not return.

When the novel opens, we are introduced to Dwight, the sixteen-year-old narrator of the story (or maybe he's seventeen -- the fact that I can't remember is a clear indicator of how much of an impression this book made on me), and his pals, the slightly overweight Rusty and tom-boy Slim. It becomes evident early on that Dwight has the hots for Slim, but he isn't confident enough to do anything about it. Based on his thoughts early on in the story, you can imagine he spends quite a bit of his time masturbating or taking cold showers, but I'll come back to this.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Dwight is mowing the lawn and his pals persuade him to take a break. Rusty has something he wants him to see. He produces a flier for The Traveling Vampire Show, which boasts to have a real-live vampire in captivity. The show is open for one night only, with an age restriction of 18+. Knowing they will never be allowed in, they decided to sneak over to Janks Field with the hopes of catching the showing setting up for that night's performance. None of them truly believe the vampire is real, but she is described as gorgeous and beguiling, so Rusty is hoping to get to see her. It takes some doing to persuade Dwight, but he finally gives in and they head off on their adventure.

The trio arrive at Janks Field before the Traveling Vampire Show arrives, so they plan on hiding in the surrounding woods until they show up.
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