Thursday, September 13, 2007
Book Review: The Cellar by Richard Laymon
Recently, I finished the very quick and disturbing read that was the late, great Richard Laymon’s The Cellar. I found it a superb book that was equal parts disturbing, gross-out and suspenseful.
It tells the tale of Donna and her young daughter Sandy who flee SoCal for the North when Donna’s abusive ex-husband Roy is released from prison after doing a stint for pedophilia and rape. After having car trouble, the two are forced to stay in Malcasa Point, a small town famous for its Beast House. A vicious beast is said to live in its depths and many murders and disappearances have occurred around the house. During the day, though, tours are given of the house and this is where Donna and Sandy meet Jud (short for Judgment) and Larry. Larry is the only survivor of a beast attack and has hired Jud to kill it. With Roy hot on Donna and Sandy’s trail, the two decide to join up with Jud and Larry. Can the four face up against the cunning and cruel Roy? Better yet, can they survive the beast of Beast House?
As one of Laymon’s earlier (and slimmer) works, The Cellar works very well at creating a sense of dread and downright ickiness throughout the proceedings. The scenes of child abuse and rape are extremely hard to read, as are the scenes of “beast”-iality that pop up later in the book. Somehow, even though I wanted to put the book down or skip the particular parts in question, I just couldn’t tear my eyes away. The gore described within the book is nothing compared the disturbing sexual deviancy contained within its pages, but it is still pretty good.
Laymon has created a very tense book that made me want to keep reading. In fact, I finished the book in a very short time mainly because I wanted to see the bad guy get his just desserts and to find out exactly what the beast was. The reveal of the beast was pretty mundane, but the twist at the end was definitely a delight. Unfortunately, Roy’s demise is pretty quick and anticlimactic for a character that is so evil. I was really hoping he would be forced to suffer more.
Also, the Beast House isn’t quite described with the detail that I’d hoped and the characters just aren’t developed that fully. Sure, we feel sorry for Donna and Sandy, hope Jud succeeds at his task and even take a special liking to the eccentric Larry, but some of the characters actions just don’t ring true. If I had a sicko ex-husband running around who wanted to finish what he started with his daughter, I probably wouldn’t leave her alone for a second, much less leave her alone to go bang a studly new acquaintance.
Nonetheless, The Cellar was a disturbing read that kept me on the edge of my seat. I won’t be eager to read it again any time soon, but it is highly recommended by yours truly. It is also part one of a trilogy. The next book is The Beast House and the final one is The Midnight Tour. After The Cellar, I am eager to check out Laymon’s other two books in the trilogy.
Available on Amazon!