Book Review – Horrorshow by Nathan Allen

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Riley Haig, a man going back to his long-despised and thoroughly-avoided hometown, for his sister’s wedding. Stepping back from a job he hates and a boss he abhors, Riley works for an insurance company with a difference: anyone can take out life insurance on anybody at all, in the hopes that, with some accident or dread disease, they’ll receive a massive, ordinarily-unexpected windfall.

At a wedding reception ripe with disasters and multiple deaths, Riley must identify the killer or make his escape, and, with a cast of incompetent police and disbelieving small-town residents, Riley’s only hope may come in the form of Langdon Pryce, pulp horror author and the person writing Riley’s story. Let’s all take a moment to let that sink in.

A darker form of something like the Will Ferrell/Emma Thompson film, Stranger Than Fiction, this novel is filled with witty observations, clever full-circle moments, humour and gore. I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but it gave me everything. There were lots of little insights into the business of writing as well as publishing and film-making, which I enjoyed. I especially loved this speech about creative substance abuse:

“‘Where do I start? There’s Lewis Carroll – he gobbled down ’shrooms like they were breath mints when he wrote Alice In Wonderland. Philip K. Dick did the same with amphetamines for most of his career. Stephen King hoovered up so much coke in the eighties that, to this day, he has no recollection of writing some of his most famous works. And I have it on good authority that [author name redacted on legal advice] was out of her mind on a month-long peyote binge when she wrote that first [series name redacted on legal advice] book. So keep that in mind the next time you read those sparkly vampire and sexy werewolf novels you love so much.’”
53% in, Interlude III, Horrorshow by Nathan Lane

Divine. Even from the copyright notice in the front matter, I was hooked…

“This novel is mostly a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s psychosis. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely regrettable.”

Very strange, I loved it.