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I'd say The Woods Are Dark is an embryonic effort, being the author's second novel published and the first without a series attached to it(1). I'd never read Laymon, so I figured, start at the beginning. His was a career of around 40 novels, which ended at 54 years of age in 2001. He was award nominated a number of times but won only once: a Stoker for The Traveling Vampire Show published the year before he died in 2000. I'd always stood him next to James Herbert, another prolific author I've never read.

The novel jumpstarts with two young girls driving into the High Sierra at twilight.


In front of them, the legless thing dragged itself over the road with powerful, hairy arms.

"What the fuck is it?" Sherri muttered.

. . . It pulled out a severed human hand, kissed its palm, and tossed it. The hand flipped toward Neala. She ducked her head, felt it in her hair, and knocked it aside. It fell into the gap between the bucket seats.



Hell of a way to start off a camping trip in Yosemite, eh?

Ensemble-cut to a man and his wife, along with their 18-year old daughter and her boyfriend, as they check into a bedbugging motor court-style motel in the burg of Barlow. Two rooms according to sexes, but the kids disappear. Dad goes after them, only to find the other cars around the motel are dummies and it's all a trap, and just about this time, "somethinga wire?snagged his foot. As he pitched headlong, he glimpsed a grinning old woman sitting crosslegged on the hood of his car, cradling a hammer. . . With a squeal of delight, the woman pounced"(p.43).

Yeah, that road to Yosemite is a dangerous one, you betcha.

About the same time the two shook-up girls pull off to a diner in the same town, Barlow. They gorge back their fears topping with hot fudge sundaes. When they go to leave, the door is locked, and "silently, four of the men climbed off their stools"(p.18).

These 6 tourists end up handcuffed to pondo pines out at the end of a dirt road. It becomes pretty obvious they are being sacrificed to some things called The Krulls. Half-way through the novel, an explanation hits. This is a group of in-breeders with ravage 'n' rape 'n' chewflesh lineage back to frontier times. "Demented Daniel Boone[s]"(p.137), our hero, Johnny Robbins, says. It's a ploy as old as the Mongols(2): give us something to knaw on and we won't gobble you.

Al-rightie, then. Exit, stage left. Goodby at page 137 out of 240.

Besides, the PBO has a green-foil cover.

I should'a known.


1) The Cellar of 1980 begins a 4-book series entitled the Beast House Chronicles.

2) They were the largest contiguous empire in history, peaking around 1300AD, their invasions killing probably more than the estimated 50 million people. And that's not counting the 100 million killed--a conservative estimate--by the Black Death plague starting in Europe in the 1340s and brought to Europe along the Silk Road from Asia, opened up by the Mongol Empire. The world population numbers didn't recover from these tyrants until the 17th century. (Figures based on Wiki).

text only © copyright 11/20/2015 by Larry Crawford

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