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The Cellar

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1980.

Donna's husband Roy is freed from San Quentin after serving a term for raping their daughter, Sandy. Donna and Sandy immediately leave for - well they don't actually know, but as long as it's anywhere a long way away from his inevitable return, they'll be happy. They end up in Malcasa Point, the small Californian home of the Beast House, which has seen eleven mysterious killings since its construction in 1902. The present occupant, Maggie Kutch, survived only after her husband and three kids were killed by a 'raving white beast', then promptly opened it to the public as a particularly grisly tourist attraction. Larry is another survivor of the beast who has hired a mercenary to kill it once and for all. And Roy is after them all.

Richard Laymon hit it big with this, his first book, written whilst working as a school librarian, and based on one of his family's holidays. Still his most famous book, it is very dodgy indeed, with scenes of bestiality and paedophilia among the other more standard horrors, but then Laymon has never been known for his restraint. Its strange ending gives it brownie points, as does its pace, but it loses some for various extended passages of pure dialogue which mostly do not work. Not a bad book, it's just not a patch on most of the author's subsequent work. Laymon returned to Malcasa Point for an inevitable (and superior) sequel, The Beast House.


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