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The Traveling Vampire Show [Hardcover]

Richard Laymon
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2000
The rural town of Grandville is to host The Travelling Vampire Show, featuring the only known vampire in captivity. Janks Field, where the show will take place, has been declared off-limits because of its sinister history, but there are three local teenagers who don't want to miss the performance.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Like the vampire he celebrates so often (Stake, etc.), this talented writer's career, once dead in the States though not overseas, has risen anew--thanks largely to Cemetery Dance, which has issued his work (Cuts; Come Out Tonight; etc.) even as no mainstream American hardcover publisher would touch it. The author's fall after his successful run in the 1980s was due to several factors, including his writerly predilection toward excess sex and violence. Here, Laymon takes those elements in hand, not so much abjuring them as putting them to artful use as he tells a wickedly involving story of three 16-year-olds and their life-changing encounter with the road show of the title. It's hot August 1963 when narrator Dwight, along with his pals--overweight Rusty and pretty (female) Slim--note flyers for the Traveling Vampire Show, featuring a purported real vampire, Valeria. Intrigued, the trio sneak onto the backwoods site of the show and there tangle with a vicious dog; after the others leave, Slim watches the spooky show troupe spear the mongrel to death. This, plus a long buildup to the show (spinning on whether troupe members are after the teens) forms most of the long narrative. Unusual for Laymon, the emphasis is on atmosphere rather than action, and he sustains a note of anticipatory dread throughout, made particularly resonant through his expert handling of the social, particularly sexual, tensions among the three teens. The novel's climax is the show itself, and here Laymon lets out the stops in typically ferocious fashion. In its understanding of the sufferings and ecstasies of youth, the novel carries some of the wisdom of King's The Body or Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, but the book, Laymon's best in years, belongs wholly to this too-neglected author, who with his trademark squeaky-clean yet sensual prose, high narrative drive and pitch-dark sense of humor has crafted a horror tale that's not only emotionally true but also scary and, above all, fun.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the latest novel from Laymon (The Midnight Tour), 16-year-old Dwight and his two pals, male Rusty and female Slim, decide to add some excitement to an otherwise boring summer day in 1963 by sneaking into "The Traveling Vampire Show." This adults-only act, featuring "Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity," is visiting their rural town of Grandville for just one night. Dwight narrates the events of that day, all the way through to the terrifying finale. The three friends are for the most part typical teens, but they are tested that day in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Although the protagonists are high school age, this novel is so replete with graphic sexual situations and violence that it would not be suitable for young adult collections. It is, however, a well-written story that will appeal to fans of horror fiction. Recommended for large public libraries.DPatricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, MD
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars No vampires, no horror, no action, no story! March 2 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I just started reading Laymon. I started with Loathsome Night in October and while not great, it was a good read full of cheap thrills and a need to know what would happen next. I'd compare it to the kind of stuff Bentley Little writes: not high art, kind of hokey and cheap but fun. So as my second Laymon read I decided on this because of all the great reviews. Mistake. First of all the characters, while being between 15 and 17, all act like little kids. I think the writer was not able to get to the "place" in his mind and messed up as far as how one reacts at one's age. But the real gripe with this book is the story...there is none. Seriously, the first 300 pages is the main three characters deciding whether or not to go to the show! It's one big circuitous mess for 80% of the book. No vampire action if that is what you're looking for. If you are looking for Laymon's signature cheap thrills, look else ware. No horror, no sex, no action. Just kids walking around town trying to decided if they should go to a show.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Something different! Thank the gods! Oct. 12 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Being a bit of a vampire fanatic (to say the least) I'm always on the lookout for novels that break the barriers and traditions of vampire fiction. You know what I'm talking about. The tale dark and handsome male vampire figure that lures the helpless female into his lair. Or vice versa. They're predictable and I have a shelf full of them.
Laymon's Traveling Vampire Show is a vampire novel that isn't a vampire novel. It's a coming of age story about three young friends, centering mainly around one dealing with his rising malehood and growing affection for his female companion.
Vampires for the most part are just an -idea- throughout the novel. A mechanism for furthering the development of the characters, while the only actual encounter with vampires doesn't come to the end.
I've subtracted a star for the abrupt end to the novel. It seems Laymon ran out of steam and haphazardly tries to sum it all up in one page. But despite the quick ending, this is certainly a novel for those vampire fanatics seeking something altogether different. This is also a novel for those who -aren't- yet into the idea of vampires or horror, it will help ease you into the genre slowly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Laymon July 6 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read a good chunk of Laymon's work over the years, and I'm convinced that this book is definitely his best.
The characters are in no way carbon copies of others you come across in horror books. Each one of them is carefully thought out. The same goes for the setting and plot.
Laymon has covered the vampire tale before (Bite) but this story is more mindful of Dan Simmon's Summer of Night and, to an extent, even To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.
If anything else, this was a book for horror fans looking for a tale that takes place in a time perhaps not more innocent than the present, but unfettered by cell phones, computers, etc when teens and children had to use their minds to entertain themselves.
Laymon is undoubtedly a master of a terse style that conveys so much. By comparison, many horror writers with flowery descriptions often fall short of the mark.
Read it and remember that one summer where you felt everything was about to change, for better or worse, and you put off growing up in order to savor what little mystery and magic was left in the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars When the weird comes to a small town April 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Richard Laymon is a master of horror and is comfortable writing in a number of sub-genres. This book involves three young teens in small-town America who come across an ad for the Traveling Vampire Show.
Our three protagonists want to go to the show, but due to blood and nudity, the show is for adults only. But that is not enough to stop them, instead, it seems to egg them on.
Most of the book takes place during the day leading up to the show. There are also some interesting flashbacks that help flesh out the characters.
During the story, the reader is drawn in trying to find out more about the Traveling Vampire Show. Is it a fraud, a real vampire (this is a horror novel after all), or something else all together? Well, as the action and tension heat up, some questions are answered about the vampire, the show and our protagonists.
The small-town nature of the story has generated a lot of comparisons to Ray Bradbury and Stephen King but I feel it is not really either. It stands on its own.
An absolutely wonderful book that gras hold and drags you right to the final page.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You won't be sure that it works until the end March 1 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The premise of _The Traveling Vampire Show_ is simple-and keep in mind that a simple premise, especially one that is easy to explain in one sentence, is often given as a criterion for good fiction by agents, editors and publishers. Three small-town teenagers, two boys and a girl, on a hot August day in 1963, discover that a for-adults-only "traveling vampire show" is coming to town for a one-night only performance at a strange field in the middle of the woods with an infamous, crime-ridden, supernatural-rumored past, so they devise schemes to see the show, or at least its purportedly beautiful star, Valeria the Vampire.
In reading Laymon for the first time, at least, as I am, his style initially seems pleasantly and naturally in the same vein as Stephen King. In a straightforward manner, he lets us enter the everyday thoughts of his protagonist, Dwight, and the thoughts of the other characters as Dwight understands them. This first person window into a small town, teenaged baby boomers' life in the early 60s is convincing and gripping-making this a page-turner.
However, there are two things that at least on a first reading seemed like they might have to count as flaws, and which lessen the Stephen King comparison (although not in a bad way, as we'll see later in this review). The first is the aforementioned simplicity of the premise. It takes almost 400 pages to describe events that take less than 24 hours to unfold, and although a lot unfolds, the traveling vampire show itself is constantly dangled in front of us like a carrot that we can never reach.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Laymon's Best
This is actually the first Richard Laymon book I had ever read and it was so good, I became a huge fan of his and worked hard at getting everything he's written. Read more
Published on March 19 2007 by Kelly Brianna
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale that is hard to put down.
This was the first book I had read by Richard Laymon. I found the paperback by accident while shopping in a grocery store. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2005
3.0 out of 5 stars What about Bitsy?
If your expecting to read a good vampire book, this one is not for you. If your already a RL fan than I recommend this book.
Published on July 18 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars This isn't a vampire book
Ever seen the film _From Dusk Til Dawn_? In that so-called "vampire" movie, vampires don't enter the picture until the middlish-end, when, from out of nowhere, a hoard of... Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by Caradae Linore
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely great book
This book was excellent! The best vampire book I have read in years by far! The plot was orginally, story well written and engaging. Read more
Published on April 10 2004 by Persephone
2.0 out of 5 stars Thirsty for blood, received glass of milk...
Perhaps this was a clever little tale about childhood relationships, but I found none of the suspense or gruesome horror fun I craved. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2003 by Tyrone Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars STOP! Save Your Money! You've Got To Believe Me!
Stupid! Ridiculous! Moronic! Childish!, Don't believe the good reviews on this book they're lying to you! all of them liars! Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003 by Darold Rudolph
4.0 out of 5 stars and you thought your childhood was screwed up...
This book was all but perfect. It is a great story with a distinct feel of americana. During you truly find yourself rooting for the main character, who is quite likeable. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Lucas Bean
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I thought the premise was great but overall I was a disappointed. Perhaps I expected too much, but the book seemed cartoonish, reminding of an R-rated Scooby episode, the ending... Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by John D. Costanzo
3.0 out of 5 stars Has some bite.
A good, original vampire yarn is hard to come by these days, but LAYMON pulls it off well with this story about innocence lost and terror found. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2003 by Hogarth Hughes
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