The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Teenagers Dwight, Rusty, and Slim are an inseparable trio. When they see that the Traveling Vampire Show is coming to town, seeing the only vampire in captivity becomes the most important thing in the world.
The Traveling Vampire Show is a coming of age tale akin to Stephen King's The Boy or Robert McCammon's A Boy's Life, taking place in a single day in 1963. As the title indicates, the story revolves around the three teenagers' quest to attend the Traveling Vampire Show. Straight-laced Dwight, tomboy Slim, and asshole Rusty all seemed a lot like people I knew at 16.
Much like A Boy's Life, there's a lot of meandering. A lot of the book is the trio running from threats, real or imagined, and Dwight trying not to get hard around Slim or his sister in law. The addition of Bitsy, Rusty's sister, to the group showed the ugliness lurking beneath the surface of a couple characters.
I didn't mind that the Traveling Vampire Show doesn't make an appearance until the end. I did think it was unrealistic that they actually went given all that transpired early in the day. I also had some difficulty buying the others being friends with Rusty given what a selfish asshole he was.
The ending was actually pretty bad ass. I knew someone had to die before the story was over and there was death aplenty. I also liked that there were a lot of unanswered questions. Do any of the characters make appearances in subsequent Laymon books?
The Travelling Vampire Show is an entertaining coming of age tale but I wouldn't put it on the same tier as The Body or A Boy's Life. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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