Some of the best scary stories are told over campfires. The storyteller stands up, or leans forward, and with his voice and emotions takes the entire group on a trip through fear. There’s no rushing these stories — the best storytellers take their time, make sure you get a real, nice feel for the characters and the situation, then slowly knit up the story.
This is the first Richard Laymon book I’ve ever read. Looking at the reviews, it seems he did a lot of sex and gore in the past. I didn’t know that starting this book, and I think it made for a better read. A bunch of teenagers? Some kind of traveling vampire show? What was this, a Scooby Do episode? And like a great storyteller, Laymon takes his time, showing us each character and slowly building the suspense until the heart-pounding ending.
I don’t want to give too much away in this review, but it’s fair to say it’s about an experience one summer that changes the lives of our main teenage characters forever. Laymon has a way with character development. Over the course of this book I really felt like I got to know the major players very well. It made me want to read another book with those same characters in it!
It does build slowly, however, and I had to buckle down a bit to read it. The last 25% or so is when things really heat up, and by the time I finished I was impressed at the great story I had just been told.
I’m not sure I’d call it a horror novel, at least not in the sense most horror novels are today. This one was much more subtle — and because of that will leave a longer-lasting impact. If you’ve got some time on a trip or vacation and want a nice scary campfire story to read, The Traveling Vampire Show is a sure bet.