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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Laymon's Best March 19 2007
Format:Paperback
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. This book reminded me of The Body by Stephen King, a horror story but more importantly a coming of age story. While the vampires are really secondary in this book, the three main teenage chracters and all the stuff they go through to see "The Travelling Vampire Show" is where the great writing is. This book introduced me to Laymon and I quickly became a huge fan! Other favorites of his are After Midnight, Body Rides and Ressurection Dreams.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale that is hard to put down. Nov. 16 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This was the first book I had read by Richard Laymon. I found the paperback by accident while shopping in a grocery store. The cover sounded intriguing and so I decided to pick it up. After the first couple of pages, I could not put it down. The story involves the reader from the start and soon you are wrapped up in the lives of the main characters. The pace is great and keeps you hooked page after page. The characters are well written and developed. I could relate with all of them and found myself reading this book long after dark. Since then I have re-read it a few times and it always hooks me right back into the story. For anyone who loves horror, this is a great one to start with from Richard Laymon. His work is comparable to Bentley Little and Dean Koontz which are other great authors as well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What about Bitsy? July 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This isn't a vampire book June 25 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 a vampires storm into the plot and attack the characters. That's sort of what _The Traveling Vampire Show_ is like. It's not really a "vampire" book. It's more like _Stand By Me_, except with a girl and a love-sick adolescent main character. The vampire doesn't appear until the very end, and if you're the type of reader who likes suave, romantic Draculas, you will be very disappointed.
As far the writing goes, it's alright. It's not boring. It's just not a vampire book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely great book April 10 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was excellent! The best vampire book I have read in years by far! The plot was orginally, story well written and engaging. Once you start this book you will not put it down until you are finished. I wish more people were writing great vampire literature such as this.
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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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2.0 out of 5 stars Thirsty for blood, received glass of milk... Dec 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps this was a clever little tale about childhood relationships, but I found none of the suspense or gruesome horror fun I craved. A campy, blandly entertaining book that lacks intensity and delivers the least interesting portrayal of vampires I have yet to see. If you are looking for a vampire novel, try salems lot or i am legend. The horror and suspense in this book is VERY tame!
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Stupid! Ridiculous! Moronic! Childish!, Don't believe the good reviews on this book they're lying to you! all of them liars!, either that or they have an IQ of 70 on a warm day (and that's being generous and polite). Richard Laymon's the most overrated (hack)horror writer out there(I've read 4 of his books and they all stunk), Read him only as a last resort or if you are easily entertained. Mr Laymon's writing style is immature, opportunistic, uncreative, sloppy, and plain old fashioned stupid. Please try "The Light at the End" by John Skip,Craig Spector or "Bring on the Night" by Jay Davis,Don Davis if you need a vampire fix, they are far superior.
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