As a huge horror fan I am ashamed to admit that this is my first Richard Laymon read. For years I have seen his books in stores and I have heard that he is a great horror novelist. However, for some reason I never read one of his books before now. This won't be my last read by Richard Laymon either.
The Stake begins with Larry, his wife Jean, and another couple (Barbara and Pete) exploring a ghost town in Sagebrush Flats. In an abandoned hotel they find a woman naked in a coffin with a stake in her heart. While writing a novel about it Larry begins a search to find out what happened to her. Was she the victim of a lunatic who believed she is a vampire? Is she really a vampire and will she reanimate when the stake is pulled out?
Full disclaimer here--- if you are looking for a fast-paced novel then this probably isn't for you. It was quite slow in some parts and I wouldn't say this is a SCARY novel, but The Stake has a lot of great tension. There was even a part that I was so tense that I almost threw the book across the room. To be fair though I was home alone and the doorbell rang just as I got to a really intense part. That scared the bejesus out of me! Thanks UPS guy.
The plot was pretty good, but the characters definitely made this story. In particular the main character Larry, who is a horror writer. Throughout the book he is writing a novel about everything that is going on and I found his writing process fascinating. I just love when writers have stories where the main character is a writer! I also really enjoyed Lane's (Larry and Jean's daughter) story line and it was pretty cool how it intertwined with the main story line.
Overall the writing was great, however I didn't like that multiple times things that already happened had to be told in too much detail to other characters. I already know that, move on! I really don't like when authors make it so repetitive. If that was taken out the book probably could have been 50-80 pages shorter. Also, I probably would have given this 5 stars if this wasn't an issue in the book. I loved everything else about it!
I would recommend The Stake for fans of Stephen King, tension horror (Is tension horror an actual thing? I have no idea. If not then I'm making it up!), and vampires. Just hang in there through a few slow parts and a bit of repetitiveness.