“ Author: Richard Laymon / Genre: Horror „
The Travelling Vampire Show is Laymon's third vampire-themed novel after The Stake and The Bite and, like with both these earlier attempts, the vampire angle kind of plays second fiddle to other pieces of the plot. Laymon seems to enjoy keeping the main attraction of his novels until the final few chapters and here, this is no exception. The Vampire Show in question only occurs right towards the end and is fairly short-lived when compared to the rest of the novel!
Best friends Dwight and Rusty along with tom-boy companion, Slim, are headed out looking for some summer break fun when they see advertisments for The Travelling Vampire Show pinned to a series of trees and telegraph poles. The big draw and main attraction is Valeria, described not just as beguiling, gorgeous and lethal but also as the only known vampire in captivity! Of course, the boys are both instantly interested but Slim needs a little more convincing. Eventually though she agrees to come with her two friends in order to settle a wager; Dwight thinks Valeria will turn out to be ugly, Rusty however is obsessed with the fact that Valeria is reputed to be a beauty.
Unfortunately, all three have big reason to assume that they will not be allowed into the show; it is described as being for adults only and, at sixteen, they all know it is likely that none of them will be admitted! And so the trio head towards Janks Field, where the show is due to be held that night, with the intention of watching the show being set up and with the remote hope that they may just catch a glimpse of the lovely Valeria. After all, Vampires don't really exist....do they?
The majority of the book deals with everything that befalls the three friends over the course of the following day. From the moment they encounter a ferocious one-eyed dog and get split up, the friends find their day getting weirder and weirder as they frantically try to get tickets and arrange a way of getting to the show without their parents finding out. Janks Field has a very nasty reputation and none of the teenagers are supposed to go anywhere near it. Not just that, but the three of them have had a very strange year starting with last Halloween when they encountered a mysterious figure walking down the middle of the road right up to a few weeks ago, when Slim was nearly nabbed by two menacing twins driving a blacked out Cadillac!
Lots of different strands all come together to form another pleasing tale from this master of suspense, told in retrospect and set sometime in the late sixties and early seventies. Once again, it is the kind of light and easy-going read fans have come to expect from Laymon and, though this is far from his finest moment, nonetheless it is a very good read that will keep you throughly entertained. The weakest points are towards the end and the story's climax but even that doesn't detract from the fact that this is actually a very fun and spooky novel that has echoes in places of Robert.R.McCammon's Boy's Life or Bradburys Something Wicked This Way Comes.
One for Laymon fans only, this is probably not the best of books to pick up if you have never read this author before. If you are a newbie, let me reccommend Darkness, Tell Us or Ressurection Dreams instead!