Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday Night in Beast House by Richard Laymon
Friday Night in Beast House: Mark likes Alison, and so when she agrees to go out with him, he doesn’t think twice about her one condition: he has to help her sneak into Beast House overnight. But what starts out as an innocent quest for young love turns into a grueling day of hiding and an even darker night of danger.
The Cellar, as the first book in the series, stands alone quite well. While The Beast House and The Midnight Tour are sequels, they very much stand by themselves, and are just as enjoyable with no prior knowledge. Each book acts as a separate chronicle in the history of Beast House, so while they may have one character become a minor character in a later book, no main characters overlap and each story is self-sustaining. Friday Night in Beast House, acting as a coda of sorts to the saga, doesn’t stand alone nearly as well as the others. While it could be read with no prior knowledge, a lot of the little details mentioned will be completely missed, and the climax of the tale would likely be a bit confusing without having read at least one of the books. This one is for fans of the series.
However, for those fans, this is a wonderful treat. Is it as gripping as the first three books? No. It does, however, serve as a nice wrapping up of the world of Beast House. One final adventure, more light-hearted than the others, with its own bizarre twist in the final, makes this a great look back at a great series. You get to see the beasts one last time, before the door is closed, and one of the best tourist attraction-type horror series ends. Very fun, and a great way to end the Chronicles.
“The Wilds”: After a rough break up, Ned heads out for a solo camping trip in the Lost River Wilderness Area. However, the longer he stays out, the more reclusive he becomes. As he embraces his wild side, a few people invade his solitude, and he strikes out for his freedom.
A theme that Laymon works on a number of occasions is having his narrator slowly devolve into an antagonist. This is seen to full effect in one of his longer novels, Island, but it is also worked at here. The character of Ned starts out as a very sympathetic character coming off hard times, and gradually changes into a violent creep as he loses himself to his wild ways. A very solid story, well written and realistically portrayed emotionally, this story is a winner.
This newest collection of Laymon’s work, although very brief, is a nice place to stop for a couple days. Especially for fans of Laymon’s other work, this one will give you both a nice return and cap to his greatest story, but also a fun, quick stand alone piece. The two novellas go together well, and after going through a number of longer books, make a nice change up.