Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.
Sometimes, enjoying a book is all about expectations. Take Mystery Hill for example. While I've heard of Alex Irvine, this is the first time I've actually read any of his work. The only preconceptions I brought with me was that this was a PS Publishing title, so this has to be good. It's not that I was disappointed with Mystery Hill, but it's definitely not a literary heavyweight. Rather, this is more of a fun title: it's decent, accessible, and has a couple of entertaining moments. Length is also important here and while Irvin's humor might get tiresome in a longer piece, it more than holds its own as a novella.
To Irvine's credit, he writes an opening that immediately hooks you and engages the reader with possibilities. Unfortunately, the direction which he steers the book isn't where I wanted it to go but that's not the author's fault and he does succeed in his modest goals. What I want to focus on is the humor because as the story progresses, it's handled with more finesse and subtlety rather than the direct commentary he employs early on. Aside from that, Irvine is a competent writer: the pace is quick, the language is simple and functional, and at the heart of Mystery Hill is an intent to entertain. It's not necessarily the type of fiction that would amaze me or make it high on my priority list, but it was nonetheless an amusing trip, more along the lines of bump cars than a roller coaster.
As long as your expectations are set, Mystery Hill is a fun read. Irvine creates a scenario that has the right doses of humor and bizarreness in easily consumable chunks.