‘Vampire Show’ a creepy good time

  Richard Laymon’s “The Traveling Vampire Show” is a flashback to the days of youth, when every encounter is a possible adventure.
  Three teens, narrator Dwight and his friends Rusty and Slim (a girl), live in the rural town of Grandville. Rusty comes across fliers promoting The Traveling Vampire Show and its star attraction, the beautiful Valeria. Minors are banned from the show, which, of course, makes it all that more intriguing. The teens decide to find a way to get a glimpse of the mysterious Valeria, even though the scheme doesn’t always seem like a good idea.
  “When someone you love is leaving the house, doesn’t it occur to you, now and then, that you may never see him or her again? Flying places, don’t you sometimes think, What if this one goes down? Driving, don’t you sometimes imagine an oncoming truck zipping across center lines and wiping out everyone in your car? Such thoughts give you a nasty sick feeling inside, but only for a few seconds. Then you tell yourself nothing’s going to happen. And, turns out, nothing does happen.
  The book is a psychological thriller in ways, because the reader never can be sure if the fear the kids feel is for real reasons or is all in their heads. Could a vampire really exist? Does every stranger have a sinister agenda? Laymon keeps readers guessing until the end.
  “Vampire Show” also has some great scenes that capture the innocence of adolescence and the universal feelings of puberty.
  “Walking along, seeing those kids on their quests for candy, I felt very adult and superior — but part of me wished I could be running from house to house the way I used to in my infamous Headless Phantom costume, a rubber-headed axe in one hand and a treat-heavy grocery sack swinging from the other.”
  And Laymon doesn’t leave out one of the most exciting parts of young adulthood — first love.
  “She remained so close that our noses almost touched, and she stared into my eyes.
  “I stared back into hers.
  “This time, the staring didn’t make me nervous. This time, it just felt good.
  “After a while, she tilted her head sideways and kissed me again. …
  “It dismayed me. I mean, we’d just been kissing. It had been the most wonderful kiss of my life. It had been overwhelming, but sweet and pure.”
  If you like “Stand By Me,” based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body,” you’ll love “The Traveling Vampire Show.” The book is a mix of fear, fun and the excitement of new experiences as adulthood looms.

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