by Richard Laymon

  • I read it between Dec 22 & 27, 2017
  • Genre: HORROR

I wish I’d written this ...

... because the pacing is perfect!

THE CELLAR is the first of Laymon's Beast House chronicles and was first of his novels that I ever read. THE BEAST HOUSE is in both respects the second. I liked THE CELLAR but I really liked THE BEAST HOUSE. Laymon is, in my opinion, a much better writer than Stephen King. King is great at establishing an immersive sense of time and place but he does it at the expense of good pacing. Laymon, by contrast, keeps it sparse and tells his story at a terrific pace. He doesn't waste a word. In the first of this series, that was a little problematical, in that it made the characters hard to engage with. Here, no such difficulties. The protagonists in THE BEAST HOUSE are very well drawn and very likeable. I genuinely feared the demise of any of the principal players. Certainly, the perils they face are extreme. This is monster movie territory ... and the monsters are suitably horrifying and sufficiently threatening that survival is never guaranteed—and I know from THE CELLAR that with Laymon you aren't guaranteed a happy ending! Gruesome, tense, perverse, explicit and bloody, it's everything I require from a horror novel ... yet haven't yet managed to achieve myself, dammit!

The first paragraph

From the publisher

Last summer, while cleaning rooms at The Welcome Inn, young Janice Crogan found the diary of Lilly Thorn — sole survivor of the 1903 Beast House attacks. Now Janice hopes to strike it rich with the help of author Gorman Hardy. Hardy's previous nonfiction book, Horror at Black River Falls, was a major bestseller. Janice thinks he might write an even bigger bestseller with her help and with the aid of the diary. All she wants is a piece of the action.

In her letter to Hardy, Janice writes, "This diary I found is hot stuff. Lilly Thorn, the woman who wrote it, was the very first person ever to live in Beast House, and she goes into all kinds of details about where the monster came from, and what it's like, and everything. I mean everything. If you believe this, she even had sexual intercourse with it. I don't mean once, but constantly like she was obsessed. It's steamy stuff ... The diary also goes into the first murders and let me tell you, this sure is not the way they tell it on the tour!"

Gorman Hardy smells another bestseller.

He's on his way to visit Janice and start his investigation of Beast House.

It'll be a great book.

If he lives to write it.

About Mark Hodder

Mark Hodder is the author of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK and its sequels, and of the first officially sanctioned Sexton Blake novel to have been published in nearly half a century (he created and maintains BLAKIANA: The Sexton Blake Resource). He also writes short stories, flash fiction and vignettes. Find out more on his Patreon page. Mark was born in the UK but currently lives in Valencia, Spain, with his partner and two children.