The second, equally creepy novel from Deadspin columnist Magary (Someone Could Get Hurt, 2013, etc.).
Magary channeled postmodern horror-comedy in his first novel, The Postmortal, and here taps into a similar vein that posits an Everyman in a video game–like setting, with a Kafka-esque transformation thrown in for good measure. We meet Ben as the suburban family man has left his family in Maryland and arrives at a hotel in rural Pennsylvania for a business meeting the next day. He decides to go for a hike. And then all hell breaks loose. For starting out with such a grounded setup, Magary isn’t shy about getting weird fast. Ben is soon pursued by a pair of killers who wear the disembodied faces of skinned Rottweilers. He’s left messages with his name on them that read, “Stay on the path, or you will die.” He’s kidnapped by a cannibal giantess named Fermona who forces him to fight a man to death in her arena, and that’s before she sics the dwarves on him. Along the way, Ben is told his only solution is to find a demigodlike character called only “The Producer.” “I don’t even know if I’m still on Earth, or if I ate some kind of bad mushroom or something,” Ben tells his only companion, a talking crab named Crab. “I don’t know anything. But this path opened up and any time I leave it, something tries to kill me.” It seems that Ben is in an alternate dimension, one with two moons, death clouds, and time travel. It all unfolds much like a video game does, so readers who don’t enter this weird world with a lot of preconceived notions should have a blast. It’s worth noting that Magary even nails the ending with a Twilight Zone twist that would have Rod Serling nodding with approval.
An eerie odyssey that would be right at home in the pages of the pulpy Warren comics.