Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | Published: May 1991 | Pages: 441
There’s one thing I’ve learned, Richard Laymon loves talking about breasts. He doesn’t need a reason to talk about them. The female anatomy is talked about randomly. The Stake is a pretty thick novel, a little too bloated. Laymon had already written several well-received books by 1990, most being rather lengthy. He could give Stephen King a run for his money with page counts.
The length of the book hindered the reading experience. The story grew boring at times. But the premise was too good to quit reading. In the end, the payoff was worth it. Two adult couples find a young woman’s corpse with a stake in her chest. Was she a vampire or a victim of a gruesome murder? The novel is based around the mysterious young woman.
So, the two men take the body and store it in the resident author’s garage. The author, Larry Dunbar who is Laymon-esque, uses the corpse for inspiration on his next book. It’s either going to be non-fiction or fiction. An what ensues is a split narrative that slams together, creating a most chilling conclusion. The payoff is worth reading through the fluffy narrative.
Anytime a female moved in the book there was a description of the fabric rubbing their body parts. It wasn’t necessary, nor did it move the narrative along. Richard Laymon’s top notch prose are right up there with Joe R. Lansdale and Stephen King. He also reminds me of Simon Clark and Rick Hautala. But when it comes to boobs, the only author who talks about them more is Edward Lee.
Laymon did a great job with characterization. I like to invest in characters, whether good or bad. But what I liked most about this book is the human conflict, not only between the characters, but the conflict within themselves. I’m always interested in the choices characters make, and Larry Dunbar has to make a very difficult choice.
The Stake is very much a slow-burner, simmering until it’s almost done. The final third of the book moves a touch quicker. It will definitely have you yelling at the characters. But you’re probably going to want to do that from the first third of the book, though. The Stake is written in a way that is both enjoyable and infuriating.
If you haven’t read Laymon, then this is a good place to start. I don’t think The Stake is available on Kindle or iBooks. You might be able to find it secondhand, but prices are pretty high.
In an isolated corner of a deserted hotel, horror writer Larry Dunbar uncovers a grisly relic. It’s naked. It’s female. And it has a wooden stake through its heart.
She was a young, innocent high school senior named Bonnie Saxon…sacrificed on the altar of a madman’s obsession to rid the earth of its most ancient, pitiless evil: The curse of the vampire.
A world of horrors was born the day the stake was driven in.
Now Larry Dunbar wants to pull it out.