Review - Tim Waggoner - Nekropolis (nossa morte)

Long ago mankind was constantly warring against Demonkind. Then mankind started inventing things, thing that gave them a definite advantage over the vampires, demons, werewolves, ghouls and other paranormal creatures.

Rather than just wait for the inevitable, the demons decided running away was better than being dead and so left the dimension, setting up Nekropolis, a vast artificial realm ruled over by the Darklords.

Matt Richter is a cop from Cleveland, or rather he was. Two years prior to the start of this tale Matt had followed a suspect through a portal and ended up in Nekropolis surrounded by all the monsters he could ever have imagined. Not long afterwards he ended up dead. Still around, but dead - in short a zombie, although self-willed and with all of his cop instincts intact.

Devona Kanti is a vampire, daughter of a Darklord and keeper of his collection. One of the items, the Dawnstone, in the collection is missing, a powerful artefact that could kill her father. Devona hires Matt, despite his protestations of not being a detective, to track down the thief and return the Dawnstone before her father realises it is gone.

This book feels like the first in a series. It certainly has that world-building vibe going. Right from the off throws everything at you, one comedic twist on a horror trope after another. It's relentless. From its opening zombie cop vs. lycanthrope encounter, through a Wild Hunt, a yearly demon festival that feels a bit like Mardi Gras, darkly fantastic, and sometimes icky, takes on every day things like TV and internet, cyborg vampires, evil mages and so on.

I would normally have thought that so much scene-setting in a book of 400 pages would have left scant space for an actual story, but not here. All the while he's building his backdrops he telling a pretty decent noir detective tale that in many ways feels like a transplanted Bladerunner. It's impressive.

It's comical. It's endearing, odd for a story about zombies and vampires. It's suspenseful. It's damn good fun; that's what it is.

Matt Richter is a wonderful lead character. Waggoner plays his character straight. He may be a zombie but he's still a down to earth Cleveland cop with a strong sense of what's right and wrong. And much more importantly he's not superhuman - in many ways being a zombie has made him subhuman. His reflexes are slowed, his perceptions dulled and fate has placed him in a world of powerful beings.

He serves to ground us. In effect he's one of us in a totally alien world. He's the story's every man, determined to fight his corner. Add to that a need to maintain his decaying body and you just can't help rooting for the guy.

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