The Beast House is the second book in Richard Laymon’s Beast House series. The first book is called The Cellar and although it would be possible to read The Beast House as a stand-alone novel, reading The Cellar first provides a better understanding of the story. I must warn you though, neither book is suitable reading for the faint-hearted. So if sex and horror offend you, it might be best to avoid taking a tour of the Beast House or delving into The Cellar.
The first Beast House killing spree happened in 1903, when Lillian Thorn owned the property, but that was just the start. The present owner, Maggie Kutch, lost her family to the Beast back in 1931 and, realizing the money-spinning potential of the place, she turned it into a museum and has been conducting guided tours of the house ever since.
In the previous book, the central characters were Donna Hayes and her young daughter Sandy. Donna’s child molesting husband, Roy, had been released from prison, so she and Sandy fled up the coast to Malcasa Point, home of the Beast House. They didn’t flee far enough. Roy found them. The Beast found them all.
The Beast House picks things up a year later. Donna and Sandy are still involved in the story, but their roles are diminished. After Donna and Sandy ‘disappeared’ from their room at The Welcome Inn, the proprietor’s daughter, Janice Crogan, found Lillian Thorn’s diary in their room and The Beast House begins with a series of letters between Janice and a famous author named Gorman Hardy. Janice feels that a book about the Beast House could make a lot of money and because she is the one with the diary, she wants a 50 percent split of the profits.
Janice is an important character in the book, as is Hardy, but the main characters this time around are four other guests at The Welcome Inn: Tyler Moran and her friend Nora Branson, and two ex-marines called Abe Clanton and Jack Wyatt. Tyler has come to Malcasa point hoping to find her lost love, Dan. Before the girls even manage to get as far as the inn they run into trouble. When Abe and Jack come rushing to their rescue love is in the air and it looks like old love Dan is destined to lose his place in Tyler’s heart to new guy Abe Clanton.
A lot of this book concerns the blossoming relationship between Tyler and Abe. Jack and naughty Nora are too busy with their own holiday fling to feel like gooseberries, but their romance stays in the background and neither of them is ever a viewpoint character.
Most of the main characters in The Beast House are easy to like. Gorman Hardy is the exception. He’s a nasty man and I did not have to get too far into the book before I began hoping he’d become beast fodder.
There is a lot happening in this book: Tyler’s search for Dan and her budding romance with Abe, Gorman Hardy’s selfish search for further fame and wealth, and Donna’s strained relationship with her daughter. Readers even find out about the origins of the original Beast, courtesy of a strange old dude by the name of Captain Frank. All in all, The Beast House is quite a story and if like me, you enjoy the book, you can find out what happens next by reading the next book in Richard Laymon’s Beast House series. It’s called The Midnight Tour.