The Good, The Bad, and The Scary – Day 12


The Three W’s: Witches, Wizards, and Warlocks




Dark Mountain

Richard Laymon


Cheryl heard it again – the soft, dry crunching sound that a foot might make in leaves. This time, it was very close.

She lay rigid in her sleeping bag, barely daring to breathe, gazing straight up at the dark slanting wall of the tent and telling herself to stay calm.

‘It’s probably just an animal.'”


There is a reason why some of the scariest stories are told around the campfire, and that reason is because camping can be utterly terrifying. The darkness, the sense of isolation, tiny unknown noises, and fighting the whims of the elements all add to the spooky atmosphere. Laymon starts his novel Dark Mountain with two families hiking and camping together. Scott, a divorced dad, takes his girlfriend, his two kids, and his friend Flash’s family up to the California Mountains.  Good wholesome fun until someone is forced to kill a psychopath that attacks the camp in the middle of the night. To add more terror to this vacation, the psycho’s mom is an awfully powerful witch and she holds a grudge. She puts a death curse on the families and they have to figure out how to remove it while fighting to survive the curse’s power.


From the time the families leave the mountain thinking the curse to be a joke, readers know that they will be returning for a showdown with the witch, but the buildup to the final confrontation is a suspense-filled ride. Readers see not only the curse’s effects but also the moment when people turn from skeptics to believers. What’s particularly gripping about this story is how Laymon takes the ordinary and inserts extraordinary elements. The witch is a mother trying to protect her son. The accidents seem to be simple mishaps or occurrences, until the dam breaks and the only explanation for these accidents is something otherworldly.


It might not be the best way to bond as a family, but nothing brings people closer together than fighting a curse and defeating a witch.

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