Garth Marenghi’s Terror Tome is a book spin-off of a character created by Matthew Holness. As near as I can tell, the character was created for the sitcom Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, which ran for only 6 episodes but garnered a cult following. The show was co-written and directed by Richard Ayoade. It was a parody of 80s paranormal soap operas, in which an overconfident, hacky, misogynistic horror writer wrote, directed, and starred in a fictional tv show: Dark Place.
The humor of Dark Place comes from two places: the complete vanity and lack of self-awareness of the main character and the faux incompetence of the film making and acting. With this being a book, it fails to capture some of the charm of Dark Place. You only get half of the old comedy routine.
Terrortome itself is an anthology of three interconnected short stories. Each of them is funny, but each probably goes on just a bit too long. The stories vary in tone and style. Each one parodies different kinds of horror. The final story is probably the weakest, though it’s possible I just didn’t get the joke.
Overall, I think this works. I laughed out loud a few times. I’d be willing to check out the next book, but I hope it does something different. I’m not sure this Nick Stein storyline can sustain itself much longer.
Content and Ideas 4/5 – I can’t say that there is anything entirely original going on in TerrorTome. The idea of a horror novel is not new. The idea of a fictional author writing a real book is also not new. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in execution. The character of Garth Marenghi as revealed through the character of Nick Stein is funny and well-established. The stories themselves could be better, and I do have some concern that he will run this premise into the ground, but for this book it was fun.
Organization 3/5 – Each of the three stories goes on just a bit longer than it needs to. The third story really felt like it was there just to round out the numbers.
Use of Language 5/5 – This is a bit on the generous side, but I’m partial to horror. Matthew Holness has a talent for wordplay and a good sense of comedic timing. This book relies heavily on wit and style. That he pulled it off is a credit to his mastery of language.
Personal Preference 4/5 – It is a horror comedy that made me laugh. That does not happen every day.
Recommendation Strength 4/5 – It’s a light read. If it seems like the sort of thing that you would like then it probably is.