Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Richard Laymon
Published by Leisure Books
Like all great authors of our time, Richard Laymon had his share of peaks and valleys during his career. Dark Mountain is one of those valleys but, just like sex and pizza, even bad Richard Laymon is still pretty damn good.
The story of Dark Mountain follow two families as they set out for a weekend excursion hiking, camping, and just generally celebrating nature. Along for the ride are an older married couple, their son and twin daughters, a father of a son and daughter, and his new girlfriend. Tensions are somewhat high, the rebellious teenage daughter doesn’t like the new woman in her dad’s life, but more or less the trip goes smoothly for the most part.
But these families are not safe. Lurking in the woods around their campsite is a mountain witch and her deranged, perpetually horny son. When we first meet the two, the mother is chastising her boy for having killed yet another set of female campers, and we’re made aware early on that Junior just can’t help himself when there are pretty girls around.
Unfortunately for our loveable families, there are more than few pretty girls mixed in. On the third or fourth night of hiking, the hillbilly sneaks into the tent of the new girlfriend and has his way with her. Luckily for her she’s unconscious for most of it and doesn’t remember afterwards; unluckily for the hillbilly he’s not exactly the picture of stealth and gets caught trying to violate another one of the group’s pretty young things. Fighting ensues that ends with the mountain rapist being dealt a bowie knife to the chest, which the group is fairly sure has done him in, what with the lack of movement and breathing he readily displays.
But the body disappears. Soon after the boy’s mother makes an appearance, having collected hair and blood from all but two of the group, and rains a curse down upon their heads, vowing they won’t get away with what they’ve done to her boy. And sure enough they don’t…
What I’ve just described is only the first half of the book; the rest takes place a few days after. The thing is, until the assault by the mountain man and the violence that ensues, there’s not a lot going on in Dark Mountain, yet Laymon still managed to keep me enthralled. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so much of his stuff thanks to Leisure that I know that at any turn of the page the entire paradigm of the story can change, usually with an outburst of unexpected violence. Maybe it’s because Laymon was simply a masterful storyteller. Or maybe I was just trying to count the number of times he used the word “rump”.
Either way, the story hooked me and kept me to the bitter, violent, bloody, zombie filled (that’s Laymon for ya) end. I enjoyed Dark Mountain as much as any of Laymon’s works, even if not as much was going on during this tale as has been in others. Even dull Laymon is good Laymon, though, and Dark Mountain is no exception.
3 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Dark Mountain in our forums!