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Funland

Novel by Richard Laymon (USA) 1989.

Anybody who remembers The Lost Boys will know about trolls, the legions of homeless destitutes who live under bridges and inside dilapidated buildings. Laymon gives us Boleta Bay, a seaside resort with the large fun fair of the title. With a large community of trolls and a growing number of missing persons, a group of local teenagers (some with genuine complaints against the trolls) take it upon themselves to go trolling. They start by forcefully driving trolls out of town and graduate to beatings and scaring the hell out of them. When one accidentally dies, they realise they have reached a point of no return. Soon they discover what is really behind the disappearances.

Laymon's longest book to date is a triumph. Reaching 500 pages, he nevertheless keeps his characters fascinating and involving. We truly do care what happens to them, good guys or bad. His greatest talent has always been characterisation through dialogue, and he proves it once again here. At no point does the plot falter, and the long climax is well worth waiting for: allusions to classic horror films like Bedlam don't tone down his extreme horror, but add an extra dimension to the plot. Only one thing detracts from this potential masterpiece, the addition of a pointless non-human character at the end which I shall not name for fear of spoiling what is a superb read.


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