By Richard Laymon
Dwight Thompson is
busy mowing his parent's lawn when Rusty and Slim come over, and he has
heard nothing about The Travelling Vampire Show. The posters are all
over Grandville though, and Rusty pulls one from his pocket for Dwight
COME AND SEE THE ONE AND ONLY
VAMPIRE IN CAPTIVITY
Rusty is beguiled already and he's just got to see the gorgeous Valeria
for himself, even though nobody under eighteen is allowed to see the
show. Dwight doesn't seem to be too keen on the idea at first, but deep
down he is just as curious about Valeria as his friend is, and the two
boys even have a bet about how 'GORGEOUS' she will be if they actually
get to see her in the flesh. Just to make things a little more
interesting, the loser of the bet will have to let Slim shave their
head. Of course, they need to actually get to see Valeria in the first
place, so they hike over to Janks' Field, where the show is to be
staged, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Valeria before the show
starts. And so begins their adventures.
Vampire Show is one of my favourite Richard Laymon Books.
The action never stops and there are always plenty of things to keep
you guessing right until the very end. Dwight is the central character
and the story is told in his words as he remembers the summer, when he
was just sixteen, and Janks Field was the venue for a one night vampire
At its most basic this is the story of three friends, and
what happens to them within the few hours between Dwight reading
Rusty's poster and their all too bloody encounter at the show later
that evening. A lot happens in those few hours. Enough to fill 442
pages in fact and I for one couldn't get those pages turned fast enough.
This isn't just a horror story about a travelling vampire show though.
It is also a story about friendship and love and about growing up.
There are adventures to be had, mysteries to be solved, and
hair to shaved too.
The characters in the story are quite complex and it would be hard not
to like Dwight or Slim. Rusty is an interesting character too,
but in a lot of ways he is the wild card of the group and neither Slim
or Dwight can ever really rely on him to stand by them in times of
trouble. He is also selfish lad a lot of the time, and has a few
unusual habits, as Dwight discovers when he finds him going through
Slim's mother's underwear drawer. Honestly, you just can't take some
Slim is a typically unique Laymon character. Her real name is Frances,
but she doesn't use it because 'Frances is a talking Mule.'
She goes by many a different names instead, depending on what book she
happens to be reading at the time. She's been Nancy, Holmes, Scout,
Zock, Phoebe and Dagney; but when The Travelling Vampire Show comes to
town she is Slim. What's in a name though, and, call it any way that
you want, she is probably smarter than Dwight and Rusty put together,
as Dwight is quick to admit. Slim and Dwight have been friends for
years, but the summer that The Travelling Vampire Show arrived in town
was also the summer they found themselves staring into each others eyes
a little longer than had previously been their norm.
Dwight, Slim and Rusty are the main characters in the book, but there
are plenty of other characters in the book who are every bit
as interesting and Laymon brings every one of them to life on the page,
even if some of them don;t get to stay alive for the full book.
read The Travelling
Vampire Show twice, and even though it isn't a story that
I could ever forget, it was great to visit the book for a second time
and I am sure it will be just as great the next time around too. I
suppose that before I finish this review I should tell you who gets his
head shaved in the end—Dwight or Rusty—Sorry, I'm not saying,
but by the time the gang gets to see Valeria in the flesh they have a
lot more at stake than just hair.
List of Richard Laymon books reviewed on this site ~