Book Review: ‘Horrorshow’

Cover of Horrorshow. An old-fashioned typewriter is drawn to look like a creature, with the letter keys as teeth, spools as eyes, and a knife at the top.

Horrorshow by Nathan Allen

This book works on different levels. Entertainingly so. First, what’s the origin of the book? In a statement from Langdon Pryce, he claims to have written the book. Then, in a statement from Nathan Allen, he acknowledges that Langdon Pryce created the manuscript — then exchanged it to settle a debt. Later, the (unnamed) person who had possession of the manuscript sold it to Nathan Allen, who cleaned up the story — which he says was a mess.

And that’s before you get to Chapter One.

The narrative starts there, as Riley Haig is strong-armed by his sister Shelley to go to the wedding of his other sister Izzy. Why strong-armed? Because Riley really doesn’t want to return to Krumbleton, the small town where he and those sisters grew up.

Many years have passed since Riley left Krumbleton, and his schoolmates from back then are amazed to see him back in town. Lots of catching up to do.

However, the day goes off the rails. This is a horror novel, after all — not a heartwarming Hallmark movie. Also, this is no “standard” horror novel. It walks into Scream territory by bringing up cliches of horror flicks. As the body count increases around Krumbleton, Riley tries to evade the killer — and he tries to puzzle out the identity of that killer.

A twist arrives that complicates the story. I’m not going to explain it, as I’d rather it be left as a surprise for potential readers. And there’s a fun (and funny) interlude in an elevator. Again, I won’t offer an explanation.

This book is an entertaining ride. There’s a story within it, but the book gives more. Different levels for greater complexity. I recommend this book if you’re open to reading something that’s left of center. Or is it right of center or above? Not sure. Anyway, I enjoyed it.

This ebook is available for free at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Calibration 74’

Cover of Calibration 74. A circle is within a rectangle, both painted in red

Calibration 74: An Experimental Novella by William F. Aicher

If a traditional book’s narrative could be akin to a painting of a street scene, then this book would be akin to an abstract painting.

Or perhaps it’s more of a collage, with items glued to a canvas. There’s a variety of items: library card, photo of a cat, pages from a diary, a screenshot from the “Lost” TV show, pages from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Let’s say the collage is in an art gallery. The card on the wall next to the collage states its title and the artist and the year of creation.

However, no explanation is given for the collage. So we, as the viewer of the collage, will look at the mixture of items and draw our own conclusions for the artwork’s meaning. Actually, the meaning that each of us sees in it.

That’s the same with Calibration 74. The narrator looks for clues around him, clues based in numbers. He believes in a door leading to a place that’s different than this world. Another part of the multiverse. This door is possibly underneath his house, so he pulls up carpeting and hardwood flooring, then breaks the concrete pad.

The search isn’t over there. Ah, we’ve only just begun. The narrator goes on a journey, one clue leading to the next, in his exploration for the door. And the narrator attaches a kind of logic to each clue. Some of those connections might not make sense to us readers, but William Aicher portions out the story so we see how the connections make sense to the narrator.

I found the book to be a wild journey. A maze built of the narrator’s interpretations of the world, mentions about the narrator’s past, and references to culture. If you’re looking for meaning, isn’t that maze what you have to navigate? We’re collages of those interpretations, memories, cultural influences.

If you’re open to taking a recess from stories with traditional narratives, I recommend this book. I really enjoyed the trip through it. The ambiguity sparked my thinking to craft my own meaning from it.

The book is for sale on Amazon.

The author’s website is here.