The Printer From Hell by Amy Cross is a 150-page story about (refer to the title). Published in June 2016, it was on sale for USD 0.99 from Amazon or it can be downloaded for even less with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. I chose to read this book because of the author. Amy Cross writes good stuff IF this is a category you like. Gore and violence abound. Since she has written more than 100 paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels, there must be a bunch of readers that share my interest.
Steve Holland bought a new printer. He got a good deal from a local mom-and-pop shop, at least he thought he got a good deal. All the identifying notations on the machine were in either Chinese, Japanese or that great umbrella language, Asian. After placing the machine in his bedroom, Steve found he couldn’t figure out how to set up or install the printer. There was no guidebook and if there had been, it would have been in the mystery language. Mary, Steve’s wife, couldn’t get the printer to recognize her computer. The machine did not queue documents for later printing; it responded to no commands. It was as if it had a mind of its own.
Although Steve was sure he had unplugged the printer, it came on in the early morning sleeping hours with a great noise like the grinding of gears. Mary had enough. She had been unable to print all day and now the machine was robbing her of sleep. She forcefully directed Steve to return the printer the following day. Steve didn’t give up, however. He believed that man was the master of machines and that he and Mary with their combined education should be able to figure this out. He took his inability to connect the machine as a threat to his masculinity, especially when Mary said she might be able to get Matt, an IT expert and weightlifter at the local gym Mary used, to come over to help. As day followed day and Steve continued his tinkering attempts, Josh, their son, reported that he had been talking to Grandma. For its part, the printer had started printing but the only things printed were those items chosen by the printer. At first, they were pictures of Steve and Mary’s bedroom. There were at first minor changes to the room’s reality; there were clothes scattered and some furniture was larger and of better quality than their real furniture. Then dark figures began to appear in the photos. Maybe it was Grandma.
Dark bruises appear on Josh’s arms. How did they get there? Mary is not so sure that Steve didn’t do it. Steve knows he didn’t. And bruises or no bruises, nothing could explain Josh’s sudden illness that put him in the hospital for days. With all attention on Josh, the printer is forgotten for a bit although it continues to churn out pictures of a bedroom that is becoming increasingly more divorced from the bedroom that exists in reality. Magnus, an IT colleague of Steve’s, discovers a person (Dzigniav Wolonovsky) on the internet who claims to have found out some disturbing things about the printer, a Maxinomoticon. It seems the printer is a type of portal to an alternate reality which is a mirror image of present reality with one twist. Violence reigns supreme and is recognized as a norm. All types of torture and mayhem are accepted as normal. Sometimes their world comes to visit our world via the printer. Dzigniav is in a mental health care facility. Steve feels that is where Dzigniav belongs.
Josh is back from the hospital, Mary’s father is ill, and Steve decides he wants wife and daughter to visit her father. During their absence, Steve will figure out the printer. Mary and Josh leave to go to her father but never arrive. And Dzigniav, newly released from the hospital, comes to visit Steve. He tells Steve he is there to help Steve rescue Mary and Josh, only then did Steve find out about their non-arrival at Mary’s father’s house. Dzigniav has used the printer to visit the alternate, violent other world, named Hellform. He volunteers to return to that world with Steve and aid in the rescue attempt of Steve’s family.
Dzigniav is not quite what he seems. The bruises and fevers Josh had recovered from were a small hint of horrors to come. Josh, Mary, Steve, and Dzigniav all cross into the Hellform world. The violence, gore, and graphic language begin.
There is a surprise ending. One of the things I like about Amy Cross novels is that the conclusions always surprise me no matter how much of her work I read. There graphic violence and gore scenes. I wouldn’t give it to my 14-year-old son to read. But for adult fans of this genre, this is another engaging story told by this prolific writer.