Funland is one of those books that seem to fall squarely in the “good-but-not-great” category amongst Richard Laymon aficionados. This absolutely baffles me. All of the classic Laymon conventions are perfectly executed in Funland– the carnage, the humor and the weirdness- Funland has it all!
The resort of Boleta Bay is not the carefree place it used to be. A series of unexplained disappearances, and holiday-makers threatened by an army of leering bums, casts a shadow over summer pleasures. But now Boleta Bay is fighting back and their campaign leads them to the abandoned Funhouse.
Boleta Bay is the perfect Laymon setting. It is a resort town with plenty of tanned bodies and crazed tramps. This makes for the perfect venue for Laymon to indulge in his classic recipe of splatter and sensuality. He shifts between hot-and-steamy and disemboweled-and-decapitated so naturally. It is the contrast of the beautiful bikini clad girls with the shabby hobos that really encompasses what Laymon’s writing is all about.
Funland sports one of Laymon’s more robust plots. There are up to six subplots taking shape at any given point in the novel. Usually when dealing with so many characters and intricacies I tend to find flaws with at least one or two. Luckily this is not the case with Funland because (as usual with Laymon) he crafts some genuinely engaging characters. Laymon gets you into the head of each character with subtle ease. There is no clunkiness or awkwardness. It just flows. This is really the backbone of Funland. At no point do you ever getting bored with any particular plot because the individual characters are just so damn strong. When all of these plots finally come together it is truly remarkable. It is a real testament to the literary talent of Richard Laymon.
Of course, all of these characters give Laymon ample opportunities to indulge in the blood and brutality that have become his grisly calling card. The gore flies as the hobo population is terrorized by a group of local teens, known as The Trollers. The Trollers wage their war against all those who oppose them and Laymon finds some truly inventive ways to get the reader cringing by utilizing the unique midway setting of Funland. There are scenes of graphic torture and humiliation as The Trollers attempt to intimidate the bums that will have even the most seasoned Laymon fan squirming.
The final 100 pages of Funland are Laymon at his finest. In fact, I would say that the last five chapters may be the best chapters I have ever read. Absolutely sick and brutal! The pacing and action will have your heart thumping and the pages will keep turning. In typical Laymon fashion he takes the story from a place of normalcy (normal for Laymon at least) and then he ups the ante- resulting in some out-of-your-skull absolute insanity. He masterfully mixes the horror of the situation with the natural desires of the characters with perfect results.
If you are looking for a book that showcases, not only Laymon’s ability to frighten and arouse, but also his talent as a master storyteller- Funland is the book for you!