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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: The Woods Are Dark, Richard Laymon

The Woods Are Dark
The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The woods are dark" and bears shit in them. That was my first thought when I read the title to this book. I picked this up mostly to look at different styles of horror writing. Several things struck me about this story. The ending was very poor. It gave the impression of being a book that is sold in airports, where the author has three hours to tell you a story then has to end mid-sentence because the plane is landing in Hawaii.

Ignoring the ending for a moment, the first thing I noticed was that all the women in this book were fondled, raped or generic eye candy thrown in for glamour value only. I don't mind reading about all that in the context of a meaningful story, but it did strike me as a strange approach to take in this short book.

The language itself - which is mostly what I was looking at - was pretty good. There were concise descriptions and parts where I said to myself, "Yes! I need to learn how to do that." But there were other places where I thought, "Has an editor actually read this bit at all?" The language and style wandered from excellent to corny and back again within a few pages. One of the first scenes is a good example of this. It starts out really well. It frightened the hell out of me. Then a moment later it became so ridiculous that I laughed out loud. It wasn't supposed to be funny. The author worked hard to setup an atmospheric scene, then lost all the tension by stretching the reader's imagination too far.

The story itself flew along at a good pace. It was entertaining in a rapid-fire, air-flight-entertainment, type of way. The start of the book was frightening, then afterwards it wasn't anymore. It's still a good book, but it lacks the finesse of Dean Koontz's flowing prose and seems a bit random at times.

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[Posted by Peter James West, author of the science fiction series 'Tales of Cinnamon City'
[Post relates to: Tales of Cinnamon City, Information Cloud, Cinnamon City, Ascension, Lord Hades, 2015, Science Fiction]
For news and updates, visit Science Fiction author Peter James West's blog

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