Introducing Richard Laymon
If any fans of Stephen King are reading this, then you are in the right place. You may not have heard of Richard Laymon before, as he wasn’t particularly popular in his home country of America, despite praise from the great Stephen King himself. Which is why I am excited to introduce you to him. Laymon did enjoy success in Europe, particularly in the UK. It’s quite sad more people haven’t heard of him, especially if you’re a fan of suspense and horror fiction.
Richard Laymon was best known for writing books within the “splatterpunk” subgenre. For those of you that aren’t hardcore horror fans, “splatterpunk” refers to graphic and gory depictions of violence. Of course, this is not to everyone’s taste, however, you absolutely have to give Laymon’s novels a chance.
Spoilt For Choice
Throughout this article, I am going to be reviewing the ten best books by Richard Laymon. These are the books that I think you would love to read! I was spoilt for choice in picking which of Laymon’s books to read, because he wrote so many in his lifetime. With over sixty short stories and thirty novels, Laymon has definitely left his mark on the industry.
Unfortunately, Richard Laymon passed away in 2001 at the age of fifty-four. The books he left behind are his legacy, and he has gained a bit more recognition since he passed. He has had several books nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and finally won the award posthumously for his novel, The Travelling Vampire Show. So, buckle in guys, this review is about to get scary!
Best Richard Laymon Books
|The Traveling Vampire Show||9.44/10||448 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Beast House Chronicles Series||9.32/10||4 Books||Check Price On Amazon|
|Endless Night||9.62/10||490 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Island||9.24/10||494 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|In the Dark||9.56/10||534 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
The Travelling Vampire Show
One Night And One Night Only
I may as well start this review about the best novels by Richard Laymon with the book that won him the Bram Stoker Award. This coming of age tale takes place in one hot summer’s day in August 1963. Fliers have been tacked up all over the rural town of Grandville proclaiming that The Travelling Vampire Show is coming for one night only.
The beautiful and gorgeous Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity, will appear in the show. If you want to witness her stalking the audience and drinking their blood, then you will have to watch the show! Nothing sounds more exciting to Dwight, Rusty and Slim. They want to go watch the show badly, but there are obstacles in their way.
The first issue for these three friends is that the show is eighteen and over; they are only sixteen. Secondly, the show starts at midnight, and these teens have to be home by then. Lastly, the show is taking place at Janks Field. This abandoned patch of land has a nasty history and their parents have forbidden them from going there. What are three teens to do? Well, obviously they should sneak there during the daytime and watch the show get set up. Maybe they’ll catch a glimpse of the vampire!
Dwight, Rusty and Slim set off, not realising that they are in for big trouble. As much as this book is about this trio running from threats (whether real or not), it’s also very much a coming of age story. The ending was awesome and something I expected but didn’t think would actually happen. This is definitely the best Richard Laymon book to start with!
Beast House Chronicles Series
This Richard Laymon series starts out with the best book: The Cellar. This is a true depiction of the horror genre, so it is not for the fainthearted. A mom and daughter are fleeing an abusive boyfriend who just got out of prison. Their car breaks down in a remote area, home to a tourist attraction called the Beast House. Visitors flock to the house to witness all its blood and gore. Many enter and never return. No matter what you do – never enter the cellar.
There are some heavy topics in this book so just be aware of that. It is Laymon’s style, so it’s to be expected. I will say though (this might make you feel better) that the characters that commit such heinous acts get what is coming to them. But there is by no means a happy ending. This is a horror in literally all aspects.
Everyone Has A Reason
The Beast House, The Midnight Tour, and Friday Night in Beast House are the other books in the series. An author looking for new book ideas, a special tour for thirteen brave visitors, and a date night; each story has a different reason for the characters seeking out the thrill of the house. Will they all suffer the same fate?
These books all revolve around the Beast House, but each story can be read on its own. You do not need to read these Richard Laymon books in any particular order. Reading Laymon’s books is comparable to watching a Tarantino film. This series is Richard Laymon at his bloody best, so if that’s something that appeals to you, then be sure to read these books!
Another novel that I think is one of Richard Laymon’s best is Endless Night. It’s a twisted survival horror that will get your heart racing! Sixteen-year-old Jody is sleeping over at her friend Evelyn’s house, when Evelyn hears a noise downstairs. Jody dismisses it, but Evelyn goes to the door to see what’s going on. Next thing Jody knows, Evelyn is dead.
A group of killers has broken into the house and is slaughtering everyone they come across. Somehow, Jody gets lucky and the killers didn’t get her. She manages to escape with Andy, Evelyn’s little brother. Except the killers know Jody and Andy are still alive. There can be no witnesses.
On The Run
The gang of killers instruct Simon, one of their own, to apprehend Jody and Andy. They have to ensure that no one can rat them out. If Simon doesn’t succeed, his family will be the killers’ next target. Simon has no problem seeking the two runaways out. He has special plans in mind for Jody.
This is definitely one to add to your Richard Laymon book list, because let me tell you, it is a must read! It jumps between a first- and third-person perspective, with Simon narrating the first person. I couldn’t wait to get to Simon’s parts because he gave such good insight into the gang and how they came to be. As descriptive as this novel is, it is an enjoyable, and sometimes funny, read.
This is one of Richard Laymon’s top books and if you were a fan of the TV show Lost (what a throwback), then you will enjoy this. Rupert Conway and seven others have set off on a cruise. The only thing Rupert is planning to do is swim, tan and relax. The last thing he expected was the yacht blowing up and the entire group ending up shipwrecked on a deserted island.
Listen, it’s not the best situation to be in but as far as deserted islands go, it could be worse. There is fresh water and food aplenty. They should be fine until they get rescued, right? Wrong. There is one thing these castaways did not account for: they are not alone on the island.
From Good To Bad
The other occupant of the island is a maniac with a thirst for blood. And he does not like his new neighbours. The plan is to take out all the castaways one by one. This is definitely not the holiday Rupert had in mind. Island is a bizarre, yet fun novel. I’d say it’s ranked as one of my favourite Richard Laymon books, purely on an enjoyment level.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that this book has a happy ending, but I guess that depends on how you look at it. For Rupert it probably is a happy ending, but he has to get in touch with his dark side to get there. It’s clever, that’s for sure! Laymon leaves nothing out; this book is jam-packed with action and gore.
In The Dark
Let The Games Begin
Young librarian, Jane Kerry, does not have the most exciting life. Until one day, she finds an envelope on her chair with her name on it. Inside is a $50 bill, with a note that says, “Look forward, angel”. Realising this is the title of a novel, Jane finds the book in the library and inside is another envelope. This time it is $100 and another clue. Both envelopes are signed “Master of Games”. Let the scavenger hunt begin.
Jane is now stuck in a game that requires her to think outside the box. Finally, there is something exciting happening in her life! The more Jane plays, the more she partakes in crazy, immoral, and even criminal behaviour. The game starts to become dangerous, but there is no stopping. Jane must fight for her life until the game is over.
You Won’t Put It Down
This is one of the best rated Richard Laymon books and it’s easy to see why. Laymon does a good job getting you hooked from the start, and honestly, for a book that is over five hundred pages long, I finished it quicker than I expected. It’s a fun and fast-paced read.
I kept thinking about what I would do if I was in Jane’s position. It’s crazy the things that people will do for money, or when they’re bored and lonely. This book does have gore, but it only comes in towards the end, so this is definitely one of the best Richard Laymon novels for anyone who wants a good suspense with minimal blood.
One Rainy Night
I had to read the reviews of this Richard Laymon book because the synopsis doesn’t give much away. Honestly, it reads as kind of terrifying and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. Needless to say, the reviews were great, gave me an idea of what to expect and I am so glad I read this book! I’m going to do you a favour and break it down, so you won’t think twice about reading it.
The small town of Bixby is experiencing something strange: bouts of black rain that seem to turn people into homicidal maniacs. Usually friendly neighbours turn into crazed killers, soaking-wet movie goers smash into a theatre and murder everyone inside. Terror has taken over this town.
Horror At Its Peak
Everyone is wondering the same thing: where did this black rain come from and how can it be stopped? We follow the main characters throughout this story, which is told in third person with multiple point of views. Laymon is not scared to cross a line and that is abundantly clear in this novel.
This book is the best of Richard Laymon; his usual over the top gore. Definitely one to read for all horror fiction fans. It’s got all the blood, guts and violence you could possibly want. He most certainly had his creative juices flowing for this one. There were murders in ways I could never have imagined.
Alright, I will be honest and say that I put this book off for a long time. This may or may not have something to do with the cover of the book. I am not a fan of clowns. Lucky for me (and anyone else like me) this book is not about killer clowns! In the end, I am glad that I read it because it is definitely one of Richard Laymon’s most popular books, and for good reason.
There are four main characters in this novel: Dave and Joan, who are cops, and youngsters, Shiner and Robin. In Boleta Bay, teen vigilantes have been terrorising homeless people hanging around the amusement park, Funland, by the boardwalk. Worse still, people have been disappearing for years.
Boleta Bay is now fighting back, trying to reclaim the peace they have always known. This leads them to Funland, where a group of juvenile delinquents, are out for revenge. I won’t go into too much detail because half the fun of reading the best books by Richard Laymon are the twists at the end!
Laymon really ramps it up with the brutal violence in this book, but it only comes in towards the end in the final ‘battle’. There’s even a little touch of romance between the main characters, which was unexpected but always welcome. I wouldn’t say this was a scary read, but it is well worth it in the end!
Night In The Lonesome October
In The Shadows
When Ed’s college girlfriend tells him that she is in love with someone else, he is understandably heartbroken. Angry and hurt, Ed goes on a night-time walk to clear his head. As lonely as he may feel, he is anything but. There are people hiding in the shadows, just waiting to show Ed how different life can be. Ed must be careful, because as enticing as they may seem, they can also be deadly.
With each evening walk in October, Ed becomes somewhat addicted to learning more and more about his sleepy town. He learns about the predators in the van, cannibalistic homeless people, and a sociopathic model, to name a few. All of this is soothing the fresh breakup pain.
Hidden In The Dark
This book was definitely one of Richard Laymon’s best, in my opinion. Ed, our hero, was a very likeable character, always trying to do the right thing. We spend a lot of time in Ed’s head, which works out well for the storyline of this book. The underworld of this small town is disturbing and interesting at the same time, and you will feel on edge throughout the story.
This book is definitely typical Richard Laymon, doing what he does best. It will genuinely give you the creeps at certain points, but that was the best part for me. Laymon set the scene so well, depicting how cities change from day to night. An exciting and interesting read, here’s another one to add to your Richard Laymon book list!
Living Next Door To Alice
Get ready, because you’re in for one of the craziest nights ever. Alice is going to take you through a story. And what a story it is. Of course, Alice is not her real name. If she told you her real name, she would have to kill you… and it wouldn’t be her first time. Just ask the naked guy that jumped into the pool while she was housesitting. Oh wait, you can’t.
Another one of Richard Laymon’s best rated books details “Alice’s” story. Everything she reveals about herself is disturbing and twisted. With no morals or conscience, Alice will never let a man do anything to harm her again. She feels no remorse for her actions, so make sure you stay out of her way.
Inside The Mind
At first glance, you may think that this book is simple; it is anything but. Alice turns out to be different to what you expect. I can’t even say she is a particularly likeable character. It does make for an interesting read though, because seeing things from the perspective of someone like Alice is something different.
This is most definitely a horror, almost a dark comedy. I also have to give Richard Laymon credit for always coming up with the best horror books, I truly don’t know how he had such a vivid imagination. Full of intriguing characters, this is definitely one to read! Just remember not to believe everything Alice says…
Our main man of the hour is Larry, a mid-tier horror author. Larry, his wife, and their neighbours, decide to check out a nearby ghost town. They discover an abandoned hotel and curiosity gets the better of them, so they decide to explore. Inside the hotel is a coffin with a dead woman inside and a stake through her heart. Is she a vampire? What will happen if they remove the stake?
The group decides it’s best to let sleeping vampires lie, and they leave the house. But Larry can’t stop thinking about it. He decides to make this (possible) vampire the subject of his next novel. With that, Larry begins a search to find out what actually happened to the woman. Is she really a vampire? Or was she the victim of a lunatic?
Inside The Writers Mind
What I loved about this best-selling Richard Laymon book is that it isn’t anything you expect it to be. It’s not a fast-paced, action-packed horror. It’s rather a slow burning and compelling read filled to the brim with tension. While some might prefer a plot that moves a little quicker, many are fans of slower stories. One thing everyone can agree on, is that Laymon knows his way around a horror.
The most fascinating part of this book was that it was a writer writing about a writer. It was so cool to see how the mind of a writer works when going through the writing process. Laymon used his own experiences when writing this book, which made it all the more enjoyable. Larry was kind of like his alter ego.
I am well aware that while Richard Laymon may be one of the best at writing horrors, his books are not for everyone. If blood and gore isn’t your thing then I totally understand you not wanting to read one of his books. I would recommend that you give it a shot though.
Laymon was truly a master of his craft. He has a never-ending number of books for you to try – and I guarantee you will find at least one that you will enjoy. I have given you my ten best Richard Laymon books, but there are so many others that you can try out as well, like, The Woods Are Dark or Midnight’s Lair. If you do decide to read one of Laymon’s books, be sure to keep the lights on!
Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)