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5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Laymon
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...
Published on July 6 2003 by Richard O'brien

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Bad Ending
Laymon did a great job building up the suspense. I thought the character development was great, Dwight, Rusty and Slim were so well developed that by the end of the book you feel as if you had known them forever. This book will certainly remind you of the awkwardness experienced in your teenage years.
The only problem I had with this book was the ending. It wasn't...
Published on Sept. 15 2002 by Shaun F Shull


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1.0 out of 5 stars No vampires, no horror, no action, no story!, March 2 2004
By 
Salvatore Cangemi (Bayside, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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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
By 
vampress.net (Toronto Ontario) - See all my reviews
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
By 
Richard O'brien "Richard J. O'Brien" (Havertown, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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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
By 
Joshua Koppel (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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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
By 
Farffleblex Plaffington (Parnybarnel, Mississippi) - See all my reviews
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. The show remains the goal throughout the book-and that's understandable since the setting is the day of the show, but the show doesn't actually start until page 313, and before it does, our heroes go back and forth about whether they want to see it, or whether it will be possible to see it, at least ten times. From page 130-sometithing to about page 300, I was wondering if the whole thing wasn't going to turn out to be one big tease.
The second is that also from about page 130-something until the vampire show, it increasingly seems like the kids are just a bit spastic and that they tend to overreact to mundane occurrences. Most of the sinister events of the present day of the setting turn out to have a humdrum explanation, and the kids were just interpreting things wildly. For awhile, it seems like even the horror aspects of the book might turn out to be one big tease, and that what Laymon really wants to do is just write a coming of age story that roughly parallels his youth.
But it's time for the second "however", and this is a huge one. It becomes apparent in retrospect that Laymon really knows what he's doing. Both the logorrheic extension of the narrative and the gross exaggeration of the nature of the world by the kids pay off in spades during the climax. Why? Because it amplifies both the tightness of writing from the vampire show to the end and the breathtakingly brutal way that things turn out. We become so used to the horror not being real that when it turns out to be, it is that much more shocking.
And that's why I've mentioned "on a first reading" a couple times. In retrospect, the protracted carrot dangling and the overreactions from the kids work. Even Laymon's coming of age angle works. The problems one might have with these things are due to expectations being thwarted. And on a first reading, that turns out to work in the books' favor as well-thwarting expectations can make a reader uneasy, and that's just what horror fiction should do. You're off balance already, so the climax sends you tumbling down a ravine. Of course, that might not sound so pleasant to some folks, but on the other hand, they're probably not fans of horror fiction.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Laymon-- In This Case, Lame Man, Oct. 30 2002
By 
Brian Kiernan (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
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I am always on the lookout for horror novels, and I was drawn to Laymon by Amazon.com's reader reviews. Having only read "Traveling Vampire," I'm not yet ready to dismiss Laymon...but I'm close. His setup is marvelous: the relationship among Dwight, Slim and Rusty is entertaining and rings true (Stephen King, anyone?).
But this book (my next read is "Bite" -- we shall see) is a total cheat. Not only does the constant back and forth of the day become tedious, but there is no payoff. For example: is Valeria really a vampire? lt's suggested that she is not. In that case, are we to assume that a mortal can triumph in all of these battles in the "cage?" There are frequent allusions to what Dwight and Rusty have done "in secret." Nothing is resolved. Bitsy is frighteningly sexual and violent: nothing is resolved (including her disapperance at the end). Stryker and most of his crew are killed (Slim calmly announces that she has slit their throats), yet the entire caravan has exited by the time Dwight and Slim and Lee return to Janks Field. The "ghost" walking the highway is never resolved.
And so on and so on.
But most of all, the terrifying "Cadillac Twins" are simply killed by Slim.
One magnificent moment: the bloated monster that consumes body parts in the back of the hearse.
But again, no resolution.
Delicious hints about Lee: she is "heavier" than her slim frame would suggest; she seems to embrace her role as the new vampire. Nothing resolved.
Laymon's writing is fluid and unobstrusive. In this case, his talent delivers nothing but a frustrating, cheating conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific, Well-Written Yarn by the Late Mr. Laymon, Oct. 26 2002
By 
Thomas Gabriel "Dr. Morbius" (Solvang, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Richard Laymon has written a great story here with echoes of "The Body" (better known as "Stand by Me") and "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Set in 1963, it's about the main characters' (teenage friends Dwight, narrator of the story; Slim, a great female character; and Rusty, a sometimes appealing pain-in-the-rear) plans to attend a live midnight vampire show held outside their small home town of Grandville in Janks' Field, a place where strange and awful things have a way of taking place...
No further plot specifics should be revealed, but there's suspense, horror, sex, and mystery, all masterfully woven by Laymon into a terrific, involving read with a bang-up ending. Laymon's spare, underwritten descriptions and breakneck pace keep you turning pages, wondering what will happen to these people next. The small-town background is well-rendered, the time period accurately presented but never allowed to get in the way of the story, and the characters beautifully drawn and real.
I got through this book's nearly 400 pages in three sessions: afternoon, evening, and morning, and when I finished, I wished I could start all over again--it's really that good. What a shame that Richard Laymon is no longer with us. Try this title, which is one of his last, latest works, and you'll very likely agree.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Bad Ending, Sept. 15 2002
By 
Shaun F Shull (Foster City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Laymon did a great job building up the suspense. I thought the character development was great, Dwight, Rusty and Slim were so well developed that by the end of the book you feel as if you had known them forever. This book will certainly remind you of the awkwardness experienced in your teenage years.
The only problem I had with this book was the ending. It wasn't that I didnt agree with the ending it was just that it felt like Laymon just wrote a few pages to wrap up the loose ends as if he wanted the story to end quickly. After the climax it was if the book was already over and the characters just disappeared into short non-personal summaries of what happened in the aftermath. Another small thing that bugged me about the ending, something happens to a particular person at the end who played a crucial role in the story but seemed to just be modified as if the character were not important, it felt like a cop-out but I could be too critical (people who read the book know who I am talking about).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Part Horror, Part Coming of Age, Sept. 12 2002
The Traveling Vampire Show was the first book that I've read by Richard Laymon after reading numerous recommendations to read this and any of his works. Once I got into this, I realized I was reading a very special book and that the positive reviews were right. Now, it's not the most frightening book I've ever read and much of the "horror" in the book is actually the fear of the unknown. The final 30 pages probably have more horror in them than the entire book. But the character development is great and by the time the book is ending, you are really drawn into the lives of the three friends who are the focal point of the book. As other reviewers have mentioned, this book does have elements of King's "Stand by Me", McCammon's "Boy's Life", and Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes". And having enjoyed all of those books, it would stand to reason I would enjoy this book. But, comparisons aside, it's an enjoyable read and it certainly won't be the last Laymon book that I read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the culmination of Laymon's writing career..., Aug. 19 2002
By 
Darren Jacks (North Hollywood, Ca) - See all my reviews
This is Laymon's best novel to date!! He has written a powerful story about three kids who experience a coming of age in Grandville, USA. This is on par with King's "Stand By Me" and McCammon's "Boy's Life" with a supernatural twist.
This is a masterpiece and Laymon's shining moment as a writer. It was so good it won the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. It was great to see Laymon get recognized for this beautiful story. It would be even better to see Laymon awarded some type of Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association or International Horror Guild. This man deserves that honor.
The story takes place all in one fun-filled summer day. The characters are real, believeable, and put in danger by Laymon (what else?). This is an action-packed novel and is more suspenseful until the last 100 pages or so, when the REAL FUN begins to take place.
If you have never read Laymon, this is a great book to start with. It is gory and filled with sex, so BEWARE. The plot is engaging and very well-written, like most of Laymon's work. However, if ou start with this tale by Laymon, you may be let down in the future since this is his best work. He is just a master at what he does (did).
5-Stars!!
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The Traveling Vampire Show
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