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The Stake

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,676 ratings  ·  64 reviews
In an abandoned hotel in a California ghost town, horror writer Larry and his friends make a chilling discovery. By chance they stumble across a naked woman in a coffin with a stake driven through her heart. Was she a vampire or the victim of a gruesome murder?
Paperback, 441 pages
Published May 1991 by St Martins Pr (first published January 1st 1990)
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The Shining by Stephen KingThe Stand by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingDracula by Bram Stoker'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
The Definitive Horror Book List
75th out of 758 books — 1,047 voters
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Best Richard Laymon Books!
16th out of 45 books — 73 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,900)
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Adam Light
When a horror author and his wife, along with their friends, visit Sagebrush Flats, a ghost town near their home, they stumble upon a truly bizarre discovery - the withered corpse of a woman with a stake driven through her heart. Was she a vampire? The only way to find out is to pull the stake, see if she reanimates.
The blurb on the back of this delightful novel ( in my opinion, one of Laymon's best) has to be one of the worst I have read
This book has several storylines woven together, and it t...more
Tanja Berg
This is my first Richard Laymon book and it probably won't be my last. Although I don't think I've ever read anything so cheesy and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I enjoyed this.

The main story line is that of horror-writer Larry, his wife Jean, best pal Pete and the latters wife Barbara. In a ghost town they find a casket, in which is a body with a stake through the heart. Later Larry and Pete return to retrieve the body. The idea is that Larry will write a non-fiction horror (vampire) story...more
Not only is this a compelling horror novel, but it gives a great deal of insight into the writing process of a masterful horror writer.
Mike (the Paladin)
This is another book I would have to include on the shelf I keep considering adding...."horror sort of".

Let me first say that if you aren't familiar with the writer the synopsis of this book may mislead you. So I will try to correct any misconception/misperception.

I found very little about this book "horrifying" in the classical sense. The book's short synopsis leads one to believe that it's about a woman's body found with a stake through the heart and whether or not she's a vampire.

That is a...more
First published back in 1990, by the time Laymon knocked out `The Stake' he already had a fair old number of well received novels under his belt.

The tale finds itself predominantly focused around the character of Larry Dunbar, a horror writer of varying success, who as of yet has not quite broken through to the best sellers list. Larry Dunbar was obviously based on Laymon himself at this stage in his career, which adds an obvious warmth to the characterization as is so often the case with one o...more
Sep 21, 2009 Yvensong rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvensong by: Jare
I really, really liked this story! I've only read a couple of other Laymon books, and so far, this is my favorite.

This is classic horror, not a typical vampire story. The pacing kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next. Is the body that Larry Dunbar, his wife and friends found, the body of a vampire? We follow the mystery with Dunbar as he finds out who she is and who may have put the stake in her. He tells himself that he's doing the research to help solve a horrendous crime and to...more
Brian Steele
Although boring at times, this book has such a bizarre & unique premise, I simply HAD to finish it to see how Laymon was going to tie everything together. Two adult couples, suburban neighbors, find the body of a young woman who has been dead for near 20 years... with a stake in her chest. A slain vampire or the victim of murder by a madman? The entire book surrounds this mystery as the body is "stolen" later by the guys and hidden in the garage so the resident author can use it for inspirat...more
Christine Blachford
Larry and his friend Pete stumble upon a coffin under the stairs of an old hotel in a deserted town. The body inside has a stake through the heart – is it a vampire? Or have they stumbled across some kind of sick joke? Should they mess with the body? This is most of the story, as well as a somewhat irrelevant subplot involving Larry’s daughter and her relationship with a teacher.

Larry himself is a horror fiction writer, so immediately the book is like a book inside of itself. He loves his family...more
Joe Stamber
Another preposterous load of nonsense from the master of that particular genre. Laymon had an uncomplicated style that is easily digested and fun to read. The Stake doesn't have a lot of horror in it, but the other Laymon hallmarks are here - female body parts in starring roles, unbelievably stupid characters and one extremely annoying one. Of course, all are essential to the plot. Laymon definitely falls into the guilty pleasure category and I really shouldn't be enjoying his books so much, but...more
I started this but didn't finish. Laymon has a flawless ability to give you realistic yet flowing dialogue. But at some point my mind was being asked to accept a little too much without a great-writing foundation to carry me past the point of disbelief suspension. It was similar to those glittery vampire movies - I got through the first one okay, but by the middle of the second one I was officially done and found better things to do.

However, some of the reviews of this book on goodreads stated...more
This would make a solid screenplay. There's sex, vampires, and a mystery -- enough twists to keep things interesting -- and a believable protagonist.
Ricardo Moreno mauro
En este libro Richard Laymon nos inserta en el mundo del vampirismo. Un grupo de cuatro amigos descubren el cadáver de una muchacha clavada con una estaca en lo que fuera una antigua ciudad fantasma. Uno de ellos es escritor de historias de terror y se le ocurre investigar sobre este cuerpo y ver si efectivamente esta mujer era vampira. La historia nos compenetra en el modo de vida de familias de clase media de USA con un buen pasar. La historia principal es interesante, hay muchas pequeñas sub-...more
One of Laymon's best. The whole 'is it or isn't it a vampire' keeps the reader on their toes. The characters are all believable and well crafted.
Maybe my favorite Laymon novel I've read so far. Nice twist on the vampire tale... especially in these days of glitter-coated vamps.
As a veteran Richard Laymon fan, I say with confidence that his novels are hit or miss. The Stake is, like Bite and The Traveling Vampire Show, a non-traditional vampire story that focuses on people's reactions to the idea of vampires instead of the vampire. Laymon explored this theme to great success in the former novels with his use of dark humor; however, the author's unconventional style of mixing comedy with horror is lacking in The Stake, which is written as more of a "traditional" horror...more
Horror writer, Larry Dunbar and his friends are exploring a ghost town when they find a dead girl's body with a stake in her chest. Is she really a vampire or a murder victim? What would happen if the stake was removed? Larry is determined to take the body home while he tries to decide what to do next.

Larry becomes obsessed with the vampire girl and starts investigating who she is. Is he going to risk pulling out the stake to see what happens? Just imagine you had found the body-what would you d...more
This was the first Laymon book I had read and I wasn't sure if I should read it again because I didn't want my opinions to change at all. What if it wasn't as good as I remembered? After reading the bulk of Laymon's books I figured what the hell.

The Stake is a bit milder than his other titles but that isn't a bad thing because it almost feels as if he was trying to tap into mainstream success with a story that relied less on gore and sex and allowed the story to evolve without the usual Laymon...more
I loved this book, another vampire story by Richard Laymon that isn't quite a vampire story... or, is it? The ending was great. Those, "what just happened" moments in books, love 'em! Of course, I can't divulge too much without spoiling the many surprises in the story, so let's just say it revolves around horror writer, Larry Dunbar, who becomes obsessed with solving the mystery behind the dead body of a young girl, discovered while visiting the ghost town of Sagebrush Flat with his wife Jean, a...more
Zeeshan Ahmed
Oh, what a brilliant book! Read a great vampire story after a long time. From start to finish, the book is filled with thrills. It started off steadily and then it picked up the pace, and before I knew it, I was right into the whole story. I bought this because this was written on its cover: "If you've missed Laymon, you've missed a treat" - Stephen King. I am a big King fan, so you can imagine how much effect that had on me, and I wasn't disappointed at all.

Everything generally associated with...more
Two couples, including Dunbar the main character, explore a ghost town and find a body with a stake rammed through its chest. The story evolves around whether or not this girl is a vampire or was just thought to be so. At the same time another tale is told about Lane, Dunbar's teenage daughter, and her relationship with a teacher. This book kept me gripped throughout and I was interested in what was going on in both stories and enjoyed switching between the two as it help to keep the tension goi...more
Mark R.
I purchased "The Stake" in a combo book from the UK, where Richard Laymon had a reasonably successful career (he was less popular in the U.S., where he was from). The first book in that collection, "Funland," had a good premise, decently fast pace, and was an overall fun, if not great, read. Halfway into "The Stake", I thought, Man, this has the potential to be twice as good as "Funland," I just hope it all comes together properly.

There are two stories going on in "The Stake," and unfortunately,...more
I've read a little less than half of Richard Laymon's 30-plus novels, so I can't say this with complete confidence, but this book is Laymon's crowning achievement. Unless I read something else by him that completely amazes me the way this book did, I'm giving this one the title. And that's saying something. Books like Endless Night , In The Dark and One Raint Night really blew me away. Laymon, when he is at his best, is one of the most interesting, demented and fun horrors writers I've come...more
A more nontraditional twist on vampire stories, I liked the uniqueness of it. The fact you get involved with a character who don't meet apart from as a corpse at the start and as a resurrected vampire for a brief moment at the end. I liked the fact that you followed Larry's obsession to find out about her, to know her and find out weather she really was a vampire before she's introduced. Would have personally liked it if she'd been about a bit more as a walking, talking character. But that isn't...more
A unique story with 2 plots. One deals with a found corpse which has a stake in its chest. Is it a vampire and what will happen when the stake is pulled? The other involves a sadistic high school teacher who takes advantage of the pretty young girls in his classes. Over all a satisfying book but Laymon was a little too obsessed with breasts. It was a bit distracting because they were brought up on nearly every page. He imagined that women think about them a lot more than they actually do. I susp...more
Apr 21, 2014 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
This is not your typical Laymon book, it doesn't have the blood and gore or the just plain craziness that there usually is. That being said, it is a decent story and a good read. It has just enough of a disturbing touch that Laymon can only add, and is interesting enough to keep you engaged.
A dark and creepy, yet oddly endearing, gem of a horror book. Black humor, I actually laughed quite a bit. It is kind of gruesome, beware, but funnier and more satisfying than gruesome.
Steve M.g
I found that this book was an interesting twist on the vampire story. Definitely violent, with underlying themes of lust, and revenge. Hooked me into reading more Laymon.
Laymon proves himself the master of horror suspense on this one, starting slow and giving you just enough to hook you, prolonging the payoff. And just when you think there'll be no horror to the tale, he comes up with a slam-bang ending that's so unpredictable it's pitiful. Genius work.
Michelle Pierce
Richard Laymon does it again!
A fantastic storyline, could not put it down.
Ich hasse es, wenn das Ende einem das Buch ruiniert.
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Richard Laymon was born in Chicago and grew up in California. He earned a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, and a report writer for a law firm, and was the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels.

He also published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen,...more
More about Richard Laymon...
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“Bring a vampire around, people start discovering religion.” 18 likes
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