Dec 052022

Garth Marenghi, writer, dreamweaver, actor and visionary, finally has a new book out. This masterpiece of horror, TerrorTome, is a novel in three parts. In the first part, super cool horror writer Nick Steen, comes into possession of a cursed typewriter and is subjected to horrible tortures. In the second part, monsters and plots from Nick’s previous novels have escaped out of his imagination and into the real world. In the third and final part, Nick must deal with horrible alter-egos of his own personality, known as the Dark Third.

If you ever watched the tragically short-lived television series, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, then you have an idea of what to expect. Nick Steen is a cool hero who has little time for the ladies, editors or constructive criticism. In addition to terrible horrific acts, there are the occasional side trips into proper care of a car battery. The trademark Marenghi style is here in full force. Style? Style. Style! Style.

For those of you unfamiliar with Garth Marenghi, well buckle up. Garth is the creation of comedian Mathew Holness. Garth is a terrible egomaniac of a writer who is proud to boast that he has written more books than he has read. With his leather jackets and utter disdain for non-horror writers, I also thought he was more of a parody of a certain kind of horror fan more so than any particular writer. Either way, he is a hilarious creation who’s narcissism is only matched by his awful writing.

Holness brings this combination to TerrorTome and it is truly an impressive feat. Bad writing is easy to do but to sustain it is another thing. Nick Steen is clearly a Mary Sue of Garth Marenghi, and although Nick is technically the narrator, the reader is always aware that this book, and the comedy, is working on two different levels.

One of my favorite bits were the ‘deleted parts’. Garth’s editors insisted on removing two scenes of horror, one sex scene and two words. Garth insisted they be added back to the end of the book. He both warns you against reading it, as well as mocking you if you avoid them.

My only complaint is that a parody of bad writing still reads like bad writing. There were moments when the character’s purposeful misogyny was grinding on my last nerve. Thankfully, the book is divided into three parts of a hundred pages each. I found my tolerance increased when I took small breaks between those parts.

But that is a minor complaint for a truly amazing accomplishment. Holness does the impossible by bring one of Garth’s works to life and it doesn’t disappoint. If you enjoyed the television show, you will love this book. If you have never seen the show, it is not necessary to watch it to enjoy this book, but it might be helpful just to get Garth’s voice in your head. Either way, you need TerrorTome in your collection.

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