Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Woods are Dark

Not my favorite Laymon. His works are always readable, although I can generally find what seem like flaws to me. This is a quick paced novel in which some tourists make a "wrong turn" into a small community with a big secret. There's something in the woods. I might describe the work as The Last of the Mohicans means Heart of Darkness as channeled through Apocalypse Now.

It is a "restoration" version of a novel that was published originally in 1981. Apparently, from the opening notes by Richard Laymon's daughter, Kelly, this was the original submitted version of the novel, which had many changes forced upon it by the publisher before it was printed. As a result it certainly has some historical interest to folks interested in Laymon's career and development. 

This is not a flaw, but I didn't personally find it scary. I don't find most things that are described as horror to be frightening. I certainly found it gory and brutal. There is also, as is a signature with Laymon, a lot of sex and sexual descriptions of body parts. I'd say it reaches the level of pornography in that regard, although the sex is so mixed with gore that it is certainly not a turn-on. 

I also see where several reviewers refer to this as a "comic" horror novel. Some of the descriptions are so over the top as to evoke an eye-roll, but I don't really think of that as humor. Any humor you found here would be very dark indeed. 

My main critique of the book would be that the characters don't seem quite real to me in their reactions to the events, although never having (thank goodness) experienced anything like this I don't really know how I'd react either. 

So, as is my want, I've nitpicked some things here, which I typically do in reviews because I enjoy it. But I can certainly say I was entertained. As always, every reader has to decide for themselves how the story works or does not work for them. 

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