The Arkham Horror Files universe gets a more pulpy and deeper with the new Wrath of N’kai novel from Aconyte.
Alright, if you’ve been following our site for a while then you probably know I’m a huge fan of the Arkham Horror Files universe that FFG has built. From the multiple board games to my favorite – the Card Game – it’s got a lot of built in history and lore. It’s quite the mine of good Lovecraftian Horror and I really enjoy this stuff. So back when these new novels were first announced, I was already excited. In fact, I had already picked-up Wrath of N’Kai the day it hit shelves. I had also finished reading it when we here at BoLS got a box from Aconyte in the mail. Turns out they had sent a review copy…so now we have two.
Here’s the thing – while I’ve done tons of video reviews for miniatures, I’m not exactly a book review kind of person. In fact, I’m not much of a book reader in general. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading but I tend to get distracted pretty easily and unless a book really grabs me, I typically won’t finish it. I DO read books and have a small library of them that I’ve built up over the years…but I don’t consider myself a hardcore book person. But, of all the BoLS staff, I knew that the Arkham Books were exactly my type of story. It’s my jam. And having collected all the Novellas, the art book, and every set of the card game I can get my hands on, I’m the defacto expert on the Arkham Horror Files universe here. So yeah, I’m going to attempt to review this one for you.
Let’s start with some of the basics. Wrath of N’kai by Josh Reynolds (yes, that Josh Reynolds) is a 332 page paperback. It’s set in the Arkham Horror Files Universe and well…I guess we should throw up a spoilers tag from here on out.
I guess next part isn’t much of a spoiler as it’s basically the synopsis of the story:
“Countess Alessandra Zorzi, international adventurer and thief, arrives in Arkham pursuing an ancient body freshly exhumed from a mound in Oklahoma, of curious provenance and peculiar characteristics. But before she can steal it, another party beats her to it. During the resulting gunfight at the Miskatonic Museum, the countess makes eye contact with the petrified corpse and begins an adventure of discovery outside her wildest experiences. Now, caught between her mysterious client, the police, and a society of necrophagic connoisseurs, she finds herself on the trail of a resurrected mummy as well as the star-born terror gestating within it.”
So yeah… That’s pretty much all you really need to know going in. From there, it’s a pretty fun, easy read. It’s got the pulpy 1920’s vibe and it’s got that Lovecraftian Horror/Mystery on top of all that. It kept me engaged the whole way through and it does a good job keeping that “what happens next” feeling going. I wanted to know how this story would end. And by the end, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to know what’s next for our protagonist. I’m hoping for a sequel or some other type of follow-up as well.
I’m not really sure I want to give away any of the plot details in the review as I would encourage folks to pick this one up and just read it. Again, it’s 330 pages…so we’re not talking a George R.R. Martin level of pages here. That said, I wanted to talk about some of the things I did like – hopefully they won’t be too spoilery and ruin the fun for you.
Other than the main plot, one of my favorite things about this story was how it referenced the other Investigators in Arkham. Characters like Preston Fairmont and Tommy Muldoon show up in the story – along with a few others that I won’t spoil. It’s great to see them interact with the new characters presented in this story. Tommy in particular has more than just a bit part in this book and I quite enjoyed having him along for the adventure.
Another favorite part of mine is the Occult Mystery aspect. The Countess Alessandra Zorzi has been hired by a mysterious figure to steal a mummy. Let’s just stop right there and look at that sentence: A COUNTESS has been hired by a MYSTERIOUS figure to STEAL a MUMMY. Can it get any more “pulp adventure” than that? And yes, it turns out her client isn’t exactly on the up-and-up because of course not. As she goes to a party where the unveiling of the mummy is slated to happen, some gunmen bust in and cause a scene. That devolves into gunfight and a quick escape.
The Countess gets implicated and attempts to go on the run but her client shows up and uh…let’s just say demands she get the mummy for him. There’s certainly more going on there (involving some Occult Magic) but I’m not trying to give it all way here. Plus, Countess Zorzi has made a “connection” with the mummy and things are going from bad to worse for her. We also get to see what happens to the thieves who have just kidnapped (mummy-naped?) the mummy. Turns out that this mummy might not be quite as docile as the dead carcass they thought it was.
I also enjoyed the side characters like Abner Whitlock, an agent for the insurance company who has been tasked with ensuring the security of this new mummy. He’s a thorn in the Countess’ side but he’s on the side of the law and attempting to protect his company’s investment. Or her inadvertent sidekick in Arkham, the Cabbie Pepper, who has more depth than is first let on – smart, observant and streetwise, Pepper makes for a good ally for the out-of-towner Countess.
Maybe I’m just predisposed to enjoying these types of stories. I like the Arkham Horror series in general, and this novel was welcome addition to the Pulpy Horror setting. I also appreciate Josh Reynolds’ other work from Black Library so I was excited to give this one a shot and I’m glad I did. If you’re looking for fun read from the streets of Arkham then check out Wrath of N’kai.
Now we just need an investigator card of Countess Alessandra Zorzi in Arkham Horror: The Card Game…
It’s a pulpy, occult mystery involving a missing mummy, a cabal of corpse-eating cannibals, and a Countess-thief on the streets of Arkham – what’s not to like!?