Saturday, May 14, 2011

Excellent Reads: Richard Laymon's "Dark Mountain"

Twenty-five submissions on Blogspot is a pretty decent accomplishment. I've submitted twenty-three different Caponomics during my time as a column writer for my high school newsletter, and now that I submit whenever I feel like it and find the time to do so, we're up to twenty-five submissions since joining in March. I thought I would share another excellent read and probably the most recent read that kept me hooked to the book in awhile. This book is horror fiction legend Richard Laymon's terrifying and suspenseful camping horror novel, Dark Mountain. 

It was three months ago today that I started reading this novel. How I know is that it was Valentine's Day and also the tenth anniversary in which author Richard Laymon tragically died way too soon at the age of 54. On a happier note, it was also the novel that attracted a very special person into my life, as a question about what I was reading turned into a discussion about books and the rest was magic. This novel was so "edge of your seat" good that I finished it at a quick rate.

Now for the novel itself, it centers around two families going on a camping trip. The main reason is that the men of each houses (Scott and "Flash," who's real name is Arnold) are military buddies. Scott goes with his girlfriend, Karen, his teenage daughter, Julie, and his preteen son, Benny. As for Flash, he brings his wife, teenage son Nick, and twin daughters Rose and Heather. On the trip, Julie falls for Nick, Scott and Karen grow closer, and of course... havoc breaks loose. A monstrous man lives with his mother in the dark mountainous area of the camping grounds and is almost impossible to control. His mother makes an effort, but it just isn't enough. When the monstrous man is finally brought down by the crew, his mother puts a curse on the two families who went camping. They escape the area, but that doesn't mean they escape the curse. Benny is the only one who initially realizes that they've been cursed. It takes several instances back at home in order for each to realize that this curse has followed them home. Ultimately, a few select members who came on the original trip ultimately have to return in order to go head-on with the lady and break the curse once and for all.

Dark Mountain is as satisfying as a much deserved trip to Burger King. It's a very light read that isn't so much of a literary landmark, but it's a really exciting and suspenseful novel that could very well keep you awake if you allow it to. Not only is it suspenseful and surprising, but it also shows a sense of humor that allows the novel to show alternate emotion that makes the reader relaxed. It's an excellent strategy to relax the reader and then surprise him the next opportunity you get. It's like waiting a few seconds before putting the pedal to the metal, which Laymon does excellently.

I shall warn you that Dark Mountain is also graphic. Whether it be in the use of splatter-punk (blood and gore) or as in sexually graphic. There is sexually activity in this novel and other signs of nudity. There, you have been warned. This is, however, a hardcore horror fiction novel. This means that graphic description is surely expected in a novel like this. It's perfectly fine, because it's the readers responsibility to respond to the material. If you don't like graphic hardcore horror fiction, don't read this book, simple as that.

On the contrary, if this is your kind of novel, then Dark Mountain is the read for you. If you really want, you can wait until eleven at night to curl up into bed and make the room as dim as you can, but light enough to read the words, and enter a wild adventure. Since reading this novel, I have since stocked up my collection with some more Richard Laymon novels. He could very well be a guilty pleasure, only I don't feel guilty about reading his work. He's that good!

On the back of each of Laymon's paperback novels, Stephen King, who is the most well-known modern day horror fiction writer, states that "If you've missed Laymon, you've missed a treat." He's totally right, because Laymon's writing is a delight. This is a quote that I will never forget and I know at least one person knows why.

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