Travelling Vampire Show


Once in a while a Rite of Passage story comes along that knocks your socks off.

Welcome to the show...

When Dwight, Slim and Rusty discover the Travelling Vampire Show has hit town for one night, and one night only, they just know they have to see it. Even though it starts at midnight and is for an adult audience, they plot to make sure they get inside.


Because "Beguiling" Valeria, the vampire is on display - the only captured Vampire in the world - and she's about to put on a show that no one would believe.

As the kids work out their plan to see the show, things start to go very wrong and suddenly it seems that someone is out to get them.

As midnight approaches, so does the danger...

One thing's for sure - the kids will see the show and Valeria.

But they have no idea of the price of admission...

Laymon serves us up a treat here with The Travelling Vampire Show. Laid-back, flowing and relaxed, just like the times in which the book is set, the reader will be mesmerised not only by the setting (it's wonderfully visualised!), the story (a killer!) but also with the characters (the kids and the whole town are drawn perfectly). This is one novel Laymon fans will remember for a long long time.

Sink your fangs into it now!

Reviewed by Steve Gerlach

Do you like any of these books?

The Body or Apt Pupil (Novellas) by Stephen King
Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
Summer Of Night by Dan Simmons
Savage by Richard Laymon

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, you're in for a real treat. Richard Laymon has written a great tale of mystery, discovery, horror, adventure, murder, friendship, rite of passage…did I leave anything out? This is one of his best…one of the best coming of age novels to come along in a very long time.

Three sixteen-year-old kids wake up one morning and find a poster that says: "The Traveling Vampire Show, One Show Only, Friday, Midnite, (Nobody Under Age 18 Allowed)". Guess what…its Friday morning and posters have been put up all over town.

Richard has a way of creating realistic characters so quickly and completely that it seems effortless. In just a few pages, he creates a tension between the two boys and one girl that rings true. The boys, one crass and one shy, are vying for the attention of a complex young girl who is strong, cute and smart. Richard looks at them without flinching. They have all the angst, hormones, and insecurities that most of us experienced to varying degrees in our youth.

The kids want to get a peek at this mysterious troupe, especially the vampire…the "Beguiling" Valeria. Strange events begin to take place all over town upon their arrival. And this is just the beginning!

For those of you who are continually frustrated with really good books that sort of fizzle out at the end, this book will not disappoint. The depth of character, the mysterious goings on, the inevitable pull of the "show", are all part of this well-rounded, fast paced, satisfying read.

Kudos to Richard for writing one of the best books to break out of the horror genre in quite some time.

Reviewed by Thomas Corey

It's August 1963 in a sleepy American town. There is not much to do for three teenagers with a lot of time on their hands, until they see a poster saying that a travelling vampire show is coming to town. Knowing that they are too young to be allowed in, they decide to go and watch the crew set up, not knowing that they are about to run into some very serious trouble.

The beauty of Laymon's short novels is that they can be read very quickly, even in one sitting. Just like always, he doesn't waste a lot of time with setting the scene and suchlike and it's not long before his characters are caught up in a morass of bizarre occurrences relating to the Vampire Show. Speaking of his characters, they are rather thin simply because there is no need for him to flesh them out. He knows the functions that they have to perform and that is all they do.

I have to admit that it makes a change not to see a Laymon book that is full of swearing. Since he's set it in 1963, swearing was apparently not done so much as it is not and the characters speak "reasonably" politely. It is interesting to see how the culture has changed from then to now. However, if you are a fan of Laymon's somewhat sicker side of writing (sex, blood, guts, etc.), you will find that they are there, although mainly in thoughts rather than actions. Nevertheless, the sick level hots up as the book comes towards its climax, which is rather startling and will satisfy most people who will find themselves rooting for various characters throughout. He also leaves the ending open for interpretation. Sometimes this can be a good idea, other times it can be a bad idea. Here, I feel that it is quite easy to imagine what became of the different people.

Laymon's prose is certainly not rich, but there is simply no need for it to be so. The majority of the novel is dialogue and action, he does not spend a lot of time describing or playing with words. He gives action and excitement, packing them into a small novel that will appeal to any of his existing fans. However, if you're thinking of starting Laymon's novels with this book, you should be aware that he can be a lot, lot sicker than what you will find here - 'The Midnight Tour' springs to mind as one example, as does 'Body Rides'.

For a horror novel, there is not exactly a lot of actual horror in here. It is more like a suspense thriller with a bit of horror thrown into the mix at the end. Nevertheless, if you are a horror fan, this latest Laymon could well be for you.

Reviewed by Luke Croll

Around a year ago, I finished reading Come Out Tonight. I regarded this novel as one of Richard Laymon's finest. The only bad thing about finishing that book, was the realisation that I'd have to wait almost a whole year before getting my hands on any new material by my favourite writer, Richard Laymon.

So, when Galaxy Book Store (Sydney, Australia) called me last Thursday morning to tell me they'd just received my copy of The Travelling Vampire Show, I left work early, took a trip to the city and picked up what I'd been waiting 11 months for.

Settling down with Laymon after a long spell away from his work, was like putting on an old pair of slippers. For anyone that is as anxious as I was for Richard's latest masterpiece, The Travelling Vampire Show doesn't fail to deliver.

It's got all the thrills and edge-of-the-seat scenarios that we've all come to know and admire about Laymon's novels. I had a hard time putting it down... sleep wasn't an issue (there's always another chapter!).

The Travelling Vampire Show tells the tale of three young, daring teenagers (Dwight, Slim & Rusty) who will stop at nothing (and I mean nothing!) to get into an "Adults Only" Vampire show that is to take place at midnight, in the very eerie and dangerous (not to mention totally off limits) "Janks Field", just on the outskirts of town.

Throughout the tale, the trio come across all kinds of perils and there's quite a few surprising twists in this one, folks, and it's all in a valiant attempt to catch a glimpse of the only Vampire in captivity... yet the outcome of Dwight, Slim and Rusty's adventure is sure to shock.

The Travelling Vampire Show is a hell of a lot of fun to read and guaranteed to satisfy the true Laymon-ite!

(By the way, has anyone else noticed that all of Richard's novels are set in the Summer time?)

Reviewed by David M Zappia

Years ago, when I was about twelve, a film came out called STAND BY ME. It was based on a Stephen King novella called THE BODY. I was mesmerised. It captured for me everything I imagined growing up in America would be like. I have just read the new Laymon book and for a the day and a half it took me to read it, I was taken back to that time.

I am older now and since discovering Laymon my books need more bite than the bubblegum horror of King, and this new novel shows the new "King" has done it again!

This story is seen from the first person perspective. This gives Laymon the chance to be more personal, which in turn allows us to gel more with the other two main characters. You feel their courage bravery and above all fear.

Nobody is easier to read than Laymon. This book, like his others, does not get caught up with complicated rhetoric but instead unfolds into a classic Laymon story. The best sound bite I could give this book is this, like King's THE BODY..................but with BALLS.

Reviewed by Steven Emsley

Fed up with mediocre novels that don't really touch you? You know the ones you start, get half the way through them and find it a real struggle to keep reading?

I know I was. I'd re-read all my books and searching for new GOOD books is always a constant crusade. You can imagine my joy when while searching I saw that my favourite author, Richard Laymon, had a new book out.

"The Travelling Vampire show".

I wasted no time. I telephoned my local bookstore. The one that always had MY kind of books (20 miles away!). A long bus ride later and I had it in my hands. On the bus back I opened it and started reading, hoping that this would be a real good one.


The only bad thing was that it took me 7 hours. Afterward I just wanted to go back to the beginning and start again. I read it in one sitting. Brilliant! His best yet. If you haven't read it yet I envy you. I cannot stress enough how good this book is. If you read "The Body" by Stephen King and liked that (lets face it who DIDN'T like it?) you will LOVE this. It fills you with that same sense of being young again, first love, innocence, primal fears.

Just buy it. You will NEVER regret it.

Reviewed by Simon Willis, Northants', England

They should make a movie out of this.

There's enough plot, and enough scariness, for a book twice as thick. I was continually amazed how much bad stuff Laymon could hit the characters with, and how often he broadsided them. Take out all the character-development stuff, and this would still be a superb book, an original and frightening tome that would give you a real fright.

But that's only half the story. This is a coming-of-age story about teenagers that is so dead-on emotionally true that I'm tempted to wonder if Laymon had one of his grandchildren ghost-write those parts. If _The Traveling Vampire Show_ is "`The Body' with BALLS," it is also _A Separate Peace_ as rewritten by Edgar Allen Poe. Take out all the spooky stuff and just leave in the character-development and coming-of-age stuff, and this would still be a superb book.

I give it a 9.99 on a one-to-ten scale.

Reviewed by Thomas Richardson

The Travelling Vampire Show is proof that Richard Laymon's books just keep getting better and better! Laymon has a way of writing that allows you to totally lose yourself while reading and put yourself into the characters shoes. You are able to feel what the characters feel, when they are scared, you feel scared for them, when they are turned on, you feel turned on also. His plots and writing style will not let you put his books down until you have read the last sentence!

Reviewed by Yvonne, Australia

When I was growing up I saw one film on tv which encapsulated for me everything I imagined about what it was like to be a teenager in 1950's early 60's america. The film was called stand by me and it was astounding. But with " The Travelling Vampire Show" Richard Laymon has surpassed that benchmark. For the few days it took me to read this book I was transported back to that era. It describes in almost perfect detail the feelings and emotions of being a teenager at that time, the innocence of youth, young love, the sense of adventure and discovery and coming of age. An absolutely mesmerising read with a shocking ending which more than warrants the excellent build up. I cannot stress highly enouh how good this book is. Just get hold of it an read it and see for yourselves.

Reviewed by

Return to Reviews Page