Dark Mountain

February 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

mountainDark Mountain by Richard Laymon

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Like Allhallow’s EveDark Mountain has a good focus on character. They’re not particularly deep, but they’re distinctive, which is impressive when you consider that there are eleven central characters in the first half of the book. They’re distinguished by their main personality traits

This is still a Laymon book, though, which means it’s not without its problems. He spends half the book on a camping trip, which turns out to be nothing more than exposition for the real story, which comprises the second half of the book. It seems overlong; I feel like a defter writer could have taken the core of that half and condensed it down to 30-50 pages without losing anything. One could argue that Laymon was developing character during that time, but like I mentioned above, they weren’t deep, so all he does is revisit the same characters under benign circumstances.

Oh, and this book features one use of the non-word “irregardless”. I don’t care how casual of a writer you are, or how much fluff your writing is. You simply. Don’t. Use this word.

That being said, I felt compelled to finish the book because I needed to see what would happen next. I think that’s a first with Laymon (at least on this project; I remember feeling that way about The Quake many years ago), and I found the tension that he built in the second half of the book to be a large part of it. I won’t spoil it by telling you any details about it, but he managed to make even the most benign circumstances filled with dread over what might happen. He created tension by forcing us to wait for the hammer to fall.

This book was originally credited to Richard Kelly, which is weird since the book’s style and narrative is clearly Laymon’s. Aside from the prevalent sex, rape, and depravity one would expect to find in one of his stories, the constant use of the word “rump” would have been a dead giveaway. I’ve been unable to find a reason why this novel was originally published under a pseudonym, but it seems like a waste of time.

I also learned a new word while reading this book: “gorp”. I thought it was a weird typo (a lot of these OCR’d ebooks have weird words from misidentified characters, and this book was full of them), but it turns out it’s another name for trail mix. I spent at least a minute trying to interpret that word before finally checking to see if it had a definition.

So, Laymon took me by surprise with Dark Mountain. I don’t know if I had lowered my expectations enough to be taken in by the story, or if his style improved enough to make it a better story, but it worked pretty well for me.

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