Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Beast House by Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon's Beast House Chronicles are truly a classic set of books, even if they fly under the radar a bit. Each one brings more tension, more suspense, more horror, and more genuinely human characters than almost every other horror novel on the shelf. Each one is worthy of the word "classic."

The second novel in the Chronicles is The Beast House. Janice lives in Malcasa Point, right down the street from the Beast House, famous tourist attraction and the site of a hideous series of murders (detailed in the first book, however reading these books in order is not pivotal). She discovers the journal of the original victims of the beasts that are said to live in the Beast House, and this find attracts Gorman Hardy, famed author of books on other terrifying locations.

At the same time, two friends, Tyler and Nora, are heading to Malcasa Point in search of Tyler's former boyfriend. They meet up with two ex-Marines, Jack and Abe, who travel with them. In the search for Dan, Tyler's old flame, they are lead to the Beast House, the same time that Gorman goes.

The first part of the book is low on horror but high on character development, giving each character a solid identity that you can relate with. From there, a no turning back point is reached, and all of the character development takes a back seat to frenetic action and suspense, with plenty of twists. The solid characters are a staple of Richard Laymon's work, as is the intense, violent second half.

Compared to The Midnight Tour (the third Beast House book), the story isn't quite as developed or as complex, but at one third the length, this is to be expected. However, as a short novel with a real does of horror accentuated due to it all happening to people you care about, it is hard to do better than The Beast House.


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