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The Cellar Paperback – Mar 15 1990


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist



Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (March 15 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747235333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747235330
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 1.6 x 17.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #479,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Richard Layman was born in Chicago in 1947. He grew up in California and has a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon, and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He has worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, a mystery magazine editor and a report writer for a law firm. He now works full-time as a writer. His novel FLESH was shortlisted for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, as were FUNLAND and his short story collection, A GOOD, SECRET PLACE. Richard Layman is the author of many acclaimed works of horror and suspense, including THE STAKE, SAVAGE, AFTER MIDNIGHT and the three novels in the Beast House Chronicles: THE CELLAR, THE BEAST HOUSE and THE MIDNIGHT TOUR. He lives in California with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been reading Bentley Little books for a little over a year now and was looking for an author who was similar. I had come across many articles and blogs sayingt that Richard Laymon's style was similar. I thought this book was OK in comparison to Bentley Little's work. Richard Laymon spent a lot of this book on telling the story of a pedophile's actions in a very blunt and almost disturbing way. These parts of the book did nothing to enhance or add to the overall plot. Even the main character (the mother) wasn't someone i would look up to or call a heroine. She always seemed to need a mans attention. Kind of disappointing. Didn't much care for the characters but the story was interesting and i finished the book. I am undecided about whether I will try reading another one of Laymon's novels. Might just have to go back to Bentley Little!
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Format: Paperback
Well written to start and I am a long-time fan of horror. But the repeated and detailed scenes of child rape caused me to drop this book part way through.
Do not read this book unless you are a fan of the violent and bloody rape of children.
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By Tamara Maxwell on Nov. 8 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the item was very accurate as well as a very fast shipping and delivery. I had no problems and highly recommend this seller
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reader and Writer on June 12 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read on line this was one of the scariest and best authors of horror, even better than Stephen King. Well, I'm here to say King is far far better than Laymon. The good part of Laymon's book "The Cellar" it's about sixty thousand words, so there is something here called a novel and it's good that there is action!!! (I add that with a bit of cynicism because it seems Laymon believes any sort of hook and hanging ending to any chapters is enough to make it great.) The bad part, well about everything else. The writing is the worst part with plodding dialog, the action is nearly random and unplanned combined with absolutely predictable. I've taught writing to beginners who have tried to write horror or sci-fi and I kept saying to myself, this is exactly like their works. I kept finishing each page thinking of a million ways I could easily tune this up to make it better. Stephen King, at least, allows us to get into the story. Compared to Laymon, King seems positively literary.

Now for a few examples so you get some of the reason this is terrible, beyond the bad writing. The main character, a woman and a daughter run from an ex who has been let out of prison. Sometimes her daughter acts like she's five years old, other times she talks like she's thirty. The sister of the mother dies a terrible death and the mother finds out. She's distraught. Well, not too badly because within about an hour she's having passionate sex with a guy she met the day before. This guy is a mercenary, a man who kills, justifiably evidently, a real macho guy. Yet in a scene where the ex enters a hotel room he is said to mutter a phrase, which is immediately followed by a scared whining phrase, and in the third sentence the author adds an exclamation point, as though this guy is hysterical.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 120 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Hardboiled Horror April 15 2003
By John C. Hocking - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Laymon's work is so terse and hard-hitting that it's almost impossible to read it slowly. His prose style owes more to the 'hard-boiled' school of crime and mystery authors than to any traditional horror writers. This gives his best books more brute power than even hardened horror readers might expect. Sentences of sharp, brutal impact can leap off the page and strike the reader like open-handed slaps.
'The Cellar' is one of his best in that it couples this stripped-down readability with an absolutely merciless plot. At his peak, you can never tell how Laymon will end his tales, who will die, who will live and what will be left of them. The conclusion of 'The Cellar' is legendary and it thoroughly deserves this status.
If you like horror fiction, be it Poe or Barker or Blackwood or Hutson, give this book a try. Nobody ever wrote quite like this before.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
your left in shock and horror April 25 2001
By johnny-g - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was my first Ricard Laymon book. After hearing of the plot from a friend I immediately rushed out a bought a copy of this horrorific book. A recommendation, if you get attached to characters easily and CAN'T STAND to see them hurt...dont read this. One of Richard Laymon's (RIP) great strengths is his ability to create great characters and make you pull for them. This is a fast paced read, with a story centering around the Beast House and its past infamy. Murders, rapes, gores and horrors are the norm at this house, all handed out by the 'beast'. The characters all come into place very nicely with some gruesome sub-plots to boot. With every uncovered truth we the reader are horrified at what is happening, but are left not wanting to put the book down because you dont want to leave the character in such an evil situation. The ending in this book has to be the most gruesome, gory and uh,...most DISTURBING piece of literature I've ever read (and Ive read some crazy stuff). I was left thinking, this can be over! I was outraged. Then, when i found that this was only the first book in the series i raced out and bought the rest. Richard Laymon will be missed, he is the greatest and most under appreciated horror writer of our time. Give this book a chance, its a short read and worth the nightmares
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Early Laymon, extra grim Feb. 24 2007
By mrliteral - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For around two decades, from the early 1980s to his death in the early 21st Century, Richard Laymon produced his own brand of horror. Among his thirty-or-so novels, I have now read five: Resurrection Dreams, After Midnight, Into the Fire, Blood Games and now, The Cellar. This last book may very well be his first novel (based on the copyrights), but it is clearly a product of Laymon's imagination. And, generally speaking, that is a good thing.

The Cellar opens up (after a brief prologue) with Donna Hayes finding out that her ex-husband Roy has just been released from prison. Roy is a true villain with no redeeming value to speak of, and he is out for revenge against his former spouse. He also intends to take up again his "romance" with their pre-teen daughter, Sandy. With a few hours head start, Donna and Sandy flee to Northern California, where after a car accident, they find themselves stuck in the small town of Malcasa Point.

This town has one tourist feature, the Beast House, where some disturbing killings have taken place over the years. Fortunately, the creature that supposedly lurks within only goes come out at night and never leaves the house. Hence, during the day, it has tours. Larry Usher, one of the rare survivors of a Beast attack when he was a kid, finds he is still haunted by the creature; he recruits Jud, a mysterious mercenary, to take out the creature.

Eventually, the paths of all these characters will cross. It's obvious that Donna will eventually be trapped between Roy and the Beast and that romance will bloom between her and Jud, one of those virtuous assassins that seem to only exist in fiction. It is to Laymon's credit, however, that he does not always go in obvious directions, and there are twists that lead to a logical if unexpected conclusion.

This is not a perfect book. Laymon's efforts to make Roy repulsive are effective yet sometimes overly gratuitous. Also, although this would actually be the first time he used this theme, he tends to produce more woman-in-jeopardy stories than the Lifetime Channel movie division. All the novels I've read of his follow this idea, albeit in different fashions. Even with his flaws, however, Laymon writes well enough and The Cellar is a quick, suspenseful read.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Left me thoroughly disgusted, and not in a good way Dec 30 2009
By J. Gower - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have rarely been this repulsed by the subject matter in a book, but I felt ill after reading many of the chapters involving detailed child molestation. As this was my first Laymon book, having bought it based upon an Amazon list maker's recommendation that it was a good "monster" novel, I had no idea Laymon had such a fascination with pedophelia. He spends long, detailed passages on the subject, almost in a lascivious enjoyment of the act. I'm sure some will defend his tale spinning as a common horror trope, but I was unprepared for the lengths to which he goes to detail the abuse the character Roy inflicts upon his victims.

By the end of the book, which is hardly a challenging read, you are so battered by the violence and the sexual depravity that you hope there's a decent denouement, but no such thing happens. I won't go into details, but the final "twist" is so contrived and ridiculous that you have to just shake your head and toss the book aside in disgust. The resolution of the conflict with Roy, in particular, is poor payment for the long, foul passages you have to endure earlier in the book.

I don't write many reviews, but almost like a form of literary ipecac, I feel I have to disgorge my revulsion to clear this book from my head. Awful, and as I said, not in a good way.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Fun plot, hollow characters April 12 2011
By Ian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Cellar is about a woman named Donna and her young daughter Sandy who flee town upon discovering that Donna's ex, Roy, has just been released from prison. The husband is a rapist, murderer and child molestor, and he is now after them both. However, fate seems to be drawing Donna and Sandy to an even worse destination: The Beast House! It is a large house supposedly inhabited by pale Lovecraftian monsters lurking in tunnels deep beneath it's basement. Along the way, Donna meets a man named Jud who has been hired to get the beast out of beast house. They fall in love and it soon becomes them vs. Roy.

That's a very barebones description of the plot. As you can see, it's silly, schlocky, and fun. The book moves along at a tremendous pace, describing action and dialogue and little else. I think I counted two similes in the entire book and every chapter makes certain to end on a cliffhanger.

And yet, there was something that troubled me about the whole thing. Let's take a look at Pg. 267 - 268:

(SPOILER ALERT)

Roy has just sexually molested Sandy and Donna is asking her about it:

(BEGIN EXCERPT)

"Where did he hurt you?"
"He pinched me here." She pointed to her left breast, a barely noticable rise through her blouse. "And he put his finger down here."
"Inside?"
She nodded and sniffed.
"He didn't rape you though?"
"He said later, and he used the bad word."
"What did he say?"
"The bad word."
"You can tell me."
"He said later. He said later that he'd F me till I can't walk straight. And then he was gonna F you. And then he was gonna gut you like a catfish."
"Bastard," Donna muttered. "That stinking bastard." She held Sandy gently, stroking the girls head. "Well, I guess he won't get a chance to do that, will he?"

(END EXCERPT)

I'm not complaining about the level of violence implied here, or even the kind of violence. It's sick, it's sexual, it's horrible. But it's a horror novel. It's supposed to be those things. What I have a problem with is Donna's reaction following the exchange: "Bastard."

Now I'm a 27 year old guy and don't have a daughter, but I imagine if I did and she told me this I'd be speechless, shaking, weeping, just barely able to control myself. Here Donna seems to have very little concept of the weight of what her daughter has just been subjected to. Why? I suspect because the author himself has very little concept of the weight of what her daughter has been subjected to. Please also bear in mind, that this is not me calling into question Mr. Laymon's moral character. Not at all. However, I do see here a certain failure to truly empathize with the suffering of his characters and for me that is the one great shortcoming of the novel. As a result, Donna often comes across as 1) stupid, or 2) a bad mother. Both of which makes me care far less if the monsters get her. Horror hinges upon our ability to identify with the characters (in a good horror story we identify with the victim, in a great horror novel we identify with the victim AND the villain). There are of course exceptions to this. In American Psycho, for instance, the theme of the book is apathy and emptiness-- it's also a satire which, traditionally, underemphasizes character. But The Cellar is not a satire and has no greater philisophical growing out of such exchanges. It's simply poor writing.

Is this a case of me trying to put a round peg into a square hole? Perhaps. The books goal is, after all, to provide a fast plot and gruesome deaths. But it's goal is also to scare the reader. And without that base level of honest characterization, I don't see how one could ever hope to achieve that.


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