The Lake - Richard Laymon

(No Series)

Leigh is a beautiful girl, eighteen years old, headstrong and rebellious. All she wants from her summer by the lake is a chance to relax and have some fun. And that handsome boy she just met certainly looks like fun. But her summer fling will lead to terror. That night in the old abandoned house will haunt her nightmares for the rest of her life.Eighteen years later, Leigh's daughter, Deana, doesn't know much about what happened to her mother all those years ago, and she doesn't particularly care. She too is looking for fun. What she finds instead is a shadowy figure out for blood-and his own twisted kind of fun. Killing Deana's boyfriend is just the beginning. Before he's done, both mother and daughter will be plunged into a whirlpool of fear and madness, from which death is the only escape.

Richard Laymon has always been a much revered horror author, choosing as his style to employ horror, shock effects, and sexuality in his work. Unfortunately, The Lake is not a book worth praising. Suspense is there, but it’s scarce, and frankly the reader doesn’t really care. I couldn’t get over the bizarre plot, the too unbelievable coincidences, and I could loan even less forgiveness to the hideous characterization.

It’s a rule in the publishing world that the ! sign be kept to a minimum. Also, capitalizing words or sentences to show that the character is screaming, or else is stunned, is lazy writing if overused. Here Laymon sins repeatedly, and I almost feel that the book was only published and this was overlooked simply because he had already gathered a following. His other works did not have this flaw, and one must wonder what was going on in his personal life to create such a rushed piece.

Dialogue is painfully pitiful for the most part. It’s unnatural that when characters speak to each other, they keep saying the others name in each sentence. The dream sequences used with the young girl, Deana, grows confusing, and so many times is not needed and only hurts the story. To make matters worse, the story is told through a valley girl style, with exclamations and comments capitalized by teenage slang that screams cardboard character.

The plot isn’t better. In fact, the book was hard to finish, and even harder to keep picking up. It starts promising enough, but then everything becomes so muddled it’s painful to wade through. The ending doesn’t answer all the questions, being obviously a bizarre twist just inserted to have something. Storyline isn’t consistent, and some things are rather irrelevant seeming. If he had following up with the story line the book began with, it would have been more interesting, or even the second storyline, but as it stands….well, I’m speechless.

Due to the weaker writing style, the bizarre plot that doesn’t entertain, bounces all over the place when it doesn’t need to, doesn’t make sense, and the false characters with painful internal and external monologue, The Lake isn’t a book I’d recommend. Frankly, I’m surprised it was even published. Read another Laymon book if you wish to be entertained, but stay far, far away from this one.