Published back in December of 1988, Richard Laymon’s limited edition chapbook ‘The Woods Are Dark: The Lost Episodes’ accompanied the deluxe lettered edition of the ‘A Writer’s Tale’ (1988). Accordingly, there are only twenty-six copies of the chapbook in existence, corresponding to the twenty-six copies of the lettered edition of ‘A Writer’s Tale’ (1988).

Essentially, the chapbook contains the missing chapters from the original Warner Books edited version of Laymon’s novel ‘The Woods Are Dark’ (1981). Prior to the printing this extremely limited edition chapbook, the sections contained within the chapbook had never before been published.

The chapbook starts off with a short two-page introduction by Laymon in which he provides context for the reprinting of the chapters that follow. He details how the editor at Warner Books didn’t like the Lander Dills chapters and had them cut out entirely. Therefore, in the original heavily cut version of the novel, Lander Dills disappears for the majority of the book (presumed to have been captured by the Krulls), only to reappear right at the end.

Accordingly, the chapters that were reprinted within this chapbook are those from the novel’s main subplot – the ordeal of Lander Dills.

For reference, the additional chapters are: 10, 12, 15, 22, 27, 29, 33 and 35.

However, some twenty-years since the publication of this ‘The Woods Are Dark: The Lost Episodes’ chapbook and Laymon’s daughter – Kelly Laymon – located the original manuscript of the novel and managed to put together all of the previously lost pages, to finally have a fully restored and uncut version of the novel.

This uncut version was subsequently published by Cemetery Dance Publications in July of 2008, and includes all of the chapters from this chapbook, reinserted back into the tale.

As such, the chapters in this chapbook are no longer the highly sought after lost pages that they once were. Indeed, you can now pick up a paperback or ebook copy of the fully restored version for very little cost.

Essentially, what the chapters depict is the gradual decent of supposedly ‘model good citizen’ Lander Dills, who let’s not forget is not only a secondary school teacher but also a loving husband and father. When I say decent, what I’m referring to is Dills going from being what we assumed to be morally of a high standing, to that of a violent rapist and psychotic murderer.

If you’ve not yet read the uncut version of ‘The Woods Are Dark’ (1981 / 2008), with these chapters inserted back into the text, then you have an absolute treat in store for you. The Lander Dills subplot is by far and away the highlight of the novel. It’s insane. Completely bat-shit crazy how this man plummets to such depths, so outrageously quickly.

For a Laymon fan, these lost chapters are essential reading. Obviously, it’s now just a case of getting yourself a copy of the aforementioned fully restored version of the novel. Therefore this limited edition chapbook has instead just become a collectable rarity. A tangible insight into part of Laymon’s past and a reminder of how heavily censored his original novel was.

The chapbook runs for a total of 46 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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