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Richard Layon's 'The Stake': A Review
While 'The Stake' isn't necessarily Laymon's best work, it's definitely worth the time to pick up and try on. I'd say the first ten chapters are very slow with only a few juicy points in between to hold your interest. Laymon has uncharacteristically written a very mellow story where blood merely drips instead of gushes in sloppy, meaty gore. Although Laymon really explores how the power of suggestion can turn ordinary people on to ideas they may not have considered before, an extra draft of this novel could have done a world of good.
Larry Dunbar is certainly enjoying life these days. A semi successful horror writer blessed with a wonderful wife,Jean, and a lovely daughter,Lane. One day, needing some inspiration, he and a neighbor stumble upon a ghost town, they happen to come across a withered corpse with a stake through it's heart. Is it a vampire? Or the victim of some twisted maniac? Larry has to know and makes the decision to bring the body home with him. Building the nerve to pull the stake, the creature begins appearing to Larry in his dreams and makes pleas for release.
The story also follows Lane and her problems in her school. An unappreciative boyfriend, bullies and a teacher who has more than her grades on his mind. Lane has to balance her coming of age hormonal and emotional fluctuations and her good girl persona. As she becomes an unfortunate victim of circumstance, she must deal with some particularly nasty consequences as well as her father's unusual obsession with a secret that he's hiding in the attic.
While the focus is on Larry and his vampire antics. I found Lane's story more interesting. The psychological and emotional issues that she is dealing with really make the character feel more alive and believable. It isn't until the two stories intersect that Laymon's magic really sets into motion. We finally get to see the dynamic story telling and no holds barred physically violent nature that we all know and love from Laymon.
This novel seems to be plagued by mistakes that a new author would typically make, too many characters at one time, sub par main story and a slower pace makes it hard to keep your attention. Earning this novel a measly two stars out of five. If you're a hardcore fan, it's not to be missed. If you're just getting into him, save this one for later, there are much better Laymon novels in the market.