cover image The Halloween Mouse

The Halloween Mouse

Richard Laymon. Cemetery Dance Publications, $25 (36pp) ISBN 978-1-58767-047-3

Here's another Halloween offering from Cemetery Dance, which, with last year's anthology October Dreams and the forthcoming anthology Trick or Treat, plus last year's Richard Laymon novel, Once Upon a Halloween, is emerging as a notable publisher of Halloween-related fiction. This is a slight tale, suitable for all ages but of primary interest to kids, about the adventures of one Timothy Maywood Usher Mouse. Timothy lives in a public library and yearns for the sort of adventure he's read about in the books that surround him. One day he works up his courage and leaves his shelter through a window, only to encounter a snake (that he fools with a piece of candy corn), trick-or-treaters and a cat, which he escapes by taking refuge in a jack-o'-lantern that rolls into a local river. When last seen, Timothy is sailing to unknown shores, enjoying the world from his perch atop the jack-o'-lantern's nose. Laymon, who died in February, is known for his meandering, you-are-there plots and tight, sensual writing. Here, though, the meandering seems almost arbitrary, offering just one obstacle after another thrown in the path of the intrepid mouse, and the prose lacks Laymon's usual punch and precision. Much more effective are Clark's full-color illustrations, which capture the mystery, magic and delicious terror of Halloween via bold, intense colors and dramatic angles of view. While it's not a major addition to Halloweeniana, this volume will appeal to Laymon completists, Clark fans and anyone who can't get enough of America's second-favorite holiday. (Oct.)