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When humor meets horror

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This Book is Full of Spiders' transcends its genre

What if the people of the world were slowly being infected by parasitic brain spiders? Spiders that burrowed their way in and waited until the proper moment to simply take complete control of their hosts (with monstrous consequences)? Spiders that no one could even see?

No one but you.

That's the world that David Wong has created in his new book 'This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It' (Thomas Dunne, $25.99). It's a world filled with shadows and awash in mysteries; monsters are everywhere and eldritch horrors are manipulating everything from behind the scenes.

Our heroes David and John seem to be the only ones capable of peeking behind the curtain (due mostly to some admittedly poor choices on their parts) and so find themselves as humanity's sole defense against the unspeakable.

And that's too bad for humanity, because these guys are, well fk-ups.

It all starts with the spider. Well, 'spider' it's a baseball-sized abomination with more legs than anything should have. David finds it in his bed and attempts to deal with it, but despite his previous experiences with monsters and such, he screws it up. He tries to get John to help, but John might be even more of a slackass than David, if that's possible.

Before long, a policeman has arrived on the scene. It's when the policeman gets taken down by the spider and then raised up again that David and John know that they've once more stepped waist-deep into the murky quagmire between dimensions and the water is still rising.

David and John are once more thrust into duty as protectors of mankind, despite the fact that neither one is even a fully-functioning adult. Conspiracies abound as the two flail away at the problem; more often than not, they just continue to dig the hole deeper. They are swept up into the maelstrom as the powers that be both on this plane and the other conspire to destroy their town and, perhaps, the entire world.

The zombie apocalypse that society has been anticipating has finally arrived sort of. And it's up to David and John, just a couple of Midwest slackass yahoos, to save us all from not only the magic monsters under the bed, but from our own paranoia.

'TBIFOS' is an unabashed horror novel, packed with visceral imagery, dark undertones and a wealth of scares. The world that Wong has created (and inhabits by proxy with his self-named protagonist) is undeniably frightening. The author's clear understanding of the genre alone would make this book worthy of a read by any horror fan. However, that's not what makes this book truly special. There's one simple factor that allows this novel to transcend simple genre greatness and become something much more.

Simply put, this book is hilarious.

Making a reader laugh out loud is difficult to do. Doing it immediately before (or immediately after) scaring the st out of them increases that difficulty exponentially. Yet page after page, Wong manages to liberally mix frightening with funny and against all odds it works. Unsettling ideas and images are interspersed with pop culture references and built around the interactions and friendship between two guys who are woefully unqualified for the job of saving the world.

David and John are perfect heroes in their imperfection. These are just regular dudes, doing their best to play the hand they've been dealt. They've had greatness thrust upon them, but they've managed to misplace it. So they bumble through their adventures, trying like hell to do the right thing and failing miserably at almost every turn. And yet, despite all their missteps and mistakes, they push forward.

'This Book is Full of Spiders' is gruesome and foul-mouthed. It is spookily unsettling and subversively funny. It is horror fiction that satirizes the genre while still maintaining a very real respect for it.

I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time.

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