Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome by Garth Marenghi – Book Review

Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome

Enter the world of absurdity in this TerrorTome

TerrorTome is a horror comedy novel written by Garth Marenghi, a fictional author created by British comedian Matthew Holness. Marenghi first appeared in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004) a British horror parody TV show for Channel 4. The TV series was created by Richard Ayoade and Matthew Holness and focused on the fictional author and his published Dean Learner (played by Ayoade). The series was presented as a fictional lost series from the 1980s called Darkplace, which was never broadcast except from Peru. TerrorTome brings the comedy from the show to the page.

TerrorTome is a book separated by three stories but the main narrative follows writer Nick Steen as he unleashes the horrors of his novels after he decides to have a spicy relationship with his typewriter. You heard right. The first story is about to get weird.

Beginning with Typeface, Nick Steen buys a second-hand Typewriter that once belonged to an author who died after Nick took it upon himself to deface the man’s work and tell him how he really felt about his writing. Immediately, Nick realises that the typewriter is talking to him but in his own pretentious and self-centred mind, he believes that this would be a great way of literally having his work come off the page. So, he ignores this little issue and takes it home with him. A year later, he is let go by his then-girlfriend and editor Roz due to the physical relationship Steen has with the typewriter.

Oh, and he only just realised that by buying the typewriter from someone he wronged he has entered a Faustian deal with a demon, and by entering into a spicy relationship with it he has basically welcomed it into his life. By the way, he only realises this after his books, which were previously selling well, begin to tank, so you know where his priorities were.

So, he gets in touch with Roz in the hopes of getting rid of the typewriter, only to have his efforts turn around and bite him in the butt, and release everything he has ever written into the world. Goodie.

Type Face felt and read like a weird parody of Hellraiser (or the Hellbound Heart if you want to go by the book title.) Yes, we did say this was ‘a weird parody of Hellraiser.’ If you’ve read or watched Hellraiser, you know how ridiculous that sounds. Since it’s the beginning of the book it had to set up the main plot, being more of a prologue, but it sets up everything that you need to know. If you don’t like gore, don’t worry, Marenghi gives trigger warnings, and if you are reading this on a Kindle, but want to read the gore, there are helpful links to help you skip to the good bits.

Next is the Bride of Bone. Serial Killer Nicholas Strain (there is a joke in the book about Nick being such a hack writer that he couldn’t come up with a name that didn’t match his own, which was pretty funny because it was a thought that popped into our head when the name did), is now loose on unsuspecting women who like shoes, especially slingback heels. The doctor has a special talent and liking for women with avascular necrosis, wanting to use their blackened bones to make a wife for himself.  With the help of a fictional psychologist, Cliff Cappello (which feels like a parody of Doctor Samuel Loomis from Halloween), Steen tries to rescue Roz after she is kidnapped by Strain becoming his current victim.  

Type Face was weird, however, it did its purpose of setting the stage for the rest of the book, but Bride of Bone feels more par with a horror parody, feeling like a mix between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Herbert West’s The Reanimator. It was funny and fast-paced in all the right ways. It felt like TV series Darkplace on the page, if Darkplace wanted to do a story about an avascular necrosis-obsessed doctor who targeted women who loved slingback heels, this would be the story they would put on screen.

Finally, Steen finds himself haunted by his alter-ego from his book The Dark Fraction (10 points to anyone who tells us what this is referencing). Steen must find a way to rid himself of his…dark half… before he gets to him. However, Steen’s darker portion just wants to embarrass him anywhere he goes. So, instead of going anywhere that his dark remnant can ruin his image, he just holds up in a cabin in the woods and drinks himself to death. However, things get a little worse when his dark part decides it’s more fun to kill Steen instead and become the only Nick Steen. Now he has to fight for survival. Luckily, he has Liam Neeson to help him.

This story was so ridiculous. However, it came out a lot better than the book it was referencing, taking the story to its stupid but hilarious conclusion. It doesn’t stop at being clones of Nick Steen but also traffic cop versions, vampire versions, and a version that can’t fight but can wrestle.

Ultimately this book is a horror parody, so the absurdity of it is done purposefully. If you want a book where you mumble, ‘That’s so dumb,’ then yeah, read this book. If you watched Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, and want something that is similar to that TV series, check it out.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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