After reading about 15 other Richard Laymon books, I finally cracked open his debut novel, The Cellar, which also happens to be the first book in his acclaimed Beast House series.
As I said, I'm familiar with Laymon books, so I knew what to expect. But thinking about the fact that it is his first novel, published in '80, I'll bet it was quite a shock for people! It would've been great to have seen some new author's "horror" novel in the bookstore and pick it up out of pure intrigue.
A lot can be said for The Cellar, a debut novel that is a perfect blend of character development, plot development, solid writing, chilling horror, and humor. Richard Laymon's sense of humor and the macabre bleed through every page. He makes sure that each and every character has a problem they're dealing with, while further adding conflict at every angle. It all starts with a lady and her daughter packing their things and hitting the road at the news of the husband's release from prison. He is in prison for molesting the little girl and torturing the mother, and they know he's headed for them again (with a whole new level of anger, mind you).
They end up fleeing right into the belly of the beast, so to speak, in a little town called Malcasa Point, in California. Here is where the legend of the Beast House unfolds.
At almost the same time that the lady and her daughter head there, we are introduced to two other male characters who meet one another and go back to face the demons at the Beast House. The one male character fled the beast as a child and watched it demolish his friend. Now, they are out to seek revenge and uncover a few secrets of the house.
In true Laymon style, all the characters meet for a disturbing ending.
And finally, we get a nice little Laymonesque epilogue. While not as good as the ending of Island, it will still make you shake your head--I know I sure did. Now, off to start the next book in the series, aptly entitled The Beast House...