Monday, July 21, 2008
Book Review: The Woods Are Dark
The Wood Are Dark
by Richard Laymon
Plot: Neala and her friend Sherri only wanted to do a little hiking through the woods. Little did they know they would soon be shackled to a dead tree, waiting for Them to arrive. The Dills family thought the small hotel in the quiet town seemed quaint and harmless enough. Until they, too, found themselves shackled to trees in the middle of the night, while They approached, hungry for human flesh...
This is a book I have been really anxious to read as I like a lot of Richard Laymon's work and this was the book that was rejected as being too gruesome back in 1981 and Laymon did some re-writes to get it published. Now, after Laymon's death, the missing text has been completely restored by his daughter from thirty year old manuscripts, adding over 50 pages back in. Maybe all of this hype had me expecting too much? Could be, but I found the book a little disappointing personally.
It's typical Laymon stuff with all of the nastiness, from cannibalism to mutilation to rape, it's just to me I guess the bulk of the story wasn't really that strong. Basically he doesn't give a lot of feeling for the characters before throwing them into hell, and as the book is only a little over 200 pages, he could have easily done a bit of backstory to make me care more about who was involved. What does happen in the 200 pages is pretty simplistic... the people are being chased all around the woods by a group of freaks. That's about it really.
The main characters often behave more like they're in a porno than a horror novel. "Hi, we just met and there are a bunch of mutant freaks chasing us but while we have a minute, want to get it on?" One character does a complete 180 and becomes more like one of the hunters than the hunted, but with the limited background given on him you really can't tell if it was something he had been waiting to do or he just snapped, but it did seem rather quick for a guy to turn into a total beast.
The pace of the book though is pure Laymon. From chapter 1 until the end he's got you by the hair and keeps you wanting to read. It's pretty unrelenting but again, it's a very short book so it needs to be.
As far as the horror of it all goes, I think in 1981 it was probably shocking and repulsive but nowadays, although still repulsive, it's been done and done better, taking a bit of the kick out of it. I think the simple name of the book, which I think is lame, tells you exactly what to expect from the book. No big twists, no big ending. Just a quick, simple horror novel.
All-in-all it's an okay horror novel, just not one of Laymon's better works in my opinion.