by Penn Fawn
by Ernest Russell
Necropolis is an exploration of life and the Afterlife. In the setting of Necropolis, there are two ways to enter the Afterlife. Die in your primary plane or seeking out “the place of no return.”
The story begins as an expedition consisting of convicts, cutthroats, and scalawags. Their lure to the expedition is upon completion, and return, they will be set free from their sentences. Within this motley crew, we travel both paths to the Afterlife.
The leaders of the expedition think to have a sideline in tusks and other items. This leads to our entering the Afterlife by death. Daniel, one of the expedition leaders, takes three villagers out to poach elephants for their tusks. Armed with bows and poisoned arrows, Aswad, Keita, and Ossouna focus on their prey, oblivious to the attack approaching from the rear. A Shetani, a malevolent demon in the form of men, sends three lions to attack them. Seeing them approach from a distance, Daniel hides, remaining silent as the men are killed, fearing for himself.
This Shetani, Nyeusi, is himself a creature of legend in this setting. It is said he travels the portal between this life and the Afterlife at will. He is a staunch defender of animals and their environment. He is the driving force of Book One.
These three men die only to awaken on a grassy plain near a great forest. Disoriented and trying to make sense of their predicament, they are attacked and try to hide in the forest. Throughout the first part of Necropolis, we learn the basic ground rules of the Afterlife through their eyes.
Meanwhile, the five members of the expedition, Ali, Asfar, Daniel, Sodom, and Penal, set out to find a mythical city and its treasures, including the fabled world’s largest diamond – Necropolis.
They have received dire warnings; the only entrance is through the “place of no return.” After an arduous journey, they arrive in the other side of the Afterlife, the Underworld.
As these eight men seek refuge or a means of saving their souls, they learn the Necropolis is real. Imbued with magical powers, and in the hands of The Necromancer, it’s their only key to salvation.
Penn Fawn creates a vivid image of an Afterlife you don’t learn during the religious education of any religion I am familiar with. Yes, there are burning lakes of fire, and these are just the beginning of the horrors. Penn is a very imaginative and profound writer creating a world and characters which will make you think and question.
On the surface, Necropolis appears to be a grimdark fantasy, and it is but is more than horror. Nyeusi is an environmentalist of infernal proportion. Read carefully, and you will find his motivations come from protecting the land and its denizens from those who would harm it. Those who come to the Afterlife from other planes have no hunger, no thirst. They hunt for sport and killing, not for meat or sustenance, for it tastes terrible and makes them sick. They clear forests to leave their imprint and do not try to live in harmony with nature. All of this is anathema to Nyeusi.
I strongly recommend the book for its compelling story. Yet, this would not be an honest review if I did not share some of the issues I found while reading it.
Transitions in point of view are, in places, abrupt—last sentence in one paragraph to the first sentence of the next paragraph abrupt. I had to reread a couple of times to make sure I had not missed anything.
The copy editing leaves something to be desired. The content is good but loses some of its shine for the typos and dropped words. They are not enough to stop reading the story, but they stand out as you read.
My final observation is this an entertaining, imaginative, creative, and insightful look at the Afterlife and well worth the read.
Thank you for reading,
DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.