Netherkind – Greg Chapman
Reviewed by Steve Stred
I first discovered Chapman last year when I read his fantastic novella The Followers (which is also known as The Eschatologist). It was a really well-done tale that had a nice, unique spin on post-apocalyptic horror. At the time I wrote the review I was fairly jaded with dystopian stuff (which I still am) but Chapman presented a narrative that had me riveted.
When Netherkind was offered up for review, I jumped on it. The artwork was amazing and I was looking forward to a long-read from Greg. Then I read the synopsis and truthfully, I was put off. It read like a zombie book and if there’s one genre I am currently avoiding like the plague – its zombies. I just can’t do zombie stuff lately, doesn’t interest me and I find I either don’t choose it or just don’t make an effort to read it. I know a ton of folks still love the zombie world, but for me, I need a break.
Netherkind isn’t a zombie book. I need to say that for other folks who are in the ‘no-zombie’ boat like me right now. The synopsis leads you to believe that and even the opening few chapters introducing the main character Thomas to the reader will make you think you’re about to head down the zombie plotline, but I’ll yell it again – NETHERKIND ISN’T A ZOMBIE BOOK!
What Netherkind is… is a stunning achievement by Chapman. Within this book, Chapman has created three new species/breeds of monsters that dwell in a subterranean world, miles below our feet. Sure they have elements seen before in fiction, but what Greg does it put a Barker style spin on them and then makes them his own. They don’t want to mingle or mix with humans, instead, they all struggle to co-mingle in the environment, and often scores get settled through bloody wars. In this case, the war has been raging on for hundreds of years.
Chapman does an amazing job of introducing a few key characters that really got my interest. Specifically – a billionaire obsessed with acquiring rare artefacts and creatures, an occultist that is hired to find said artefacts and creatures and a mercenary, bounty hunter who is also hired to help when needed.
This injection of non-monster characters elevates the tension throughout and I found I was racing through this book. It did take me a bit to get going, simply because in the back of my mind I was worried we’d be tossed into a full-on zombie trope, but it never happens. Instead, Chapman suddenly winds up telling a stunning fantasy-horror novel. I know the term fantasy can be off-putting, but for this book, it really is the only way to describe it. We’re not talking knights, horses and dragons – no we’re talking an ancient God expected to come back, a tribe of priests who live within an abandoned church, a race of creatures living in an enchanted style forest and a prophecy played out through specific actions, dreams and bloodlines. There is a deep running allegory throughout this tale, showing the pitfalls of religious turmoil and war based on beliefs, but if religious plot-lines put you off, then this book is fantastic because you can just let the story run on its own merit.
I’ve always been drawn to tales told with clashing families/cities that feature beasts and these tales are always elevated when the author has created the mythology first, then write the story. I’d hazard a guess that Chapman did approach it this way as never once did I find a stumble or an odd moment when things felt like they were falling apart. No, here Chapman knows the history of each clan front to back and weaves the tale between all as the story really ramps up. I began to realize I was getting close to the end and it was at this point I knew this story had elevated itself and I would be giving it 5 stars. I dreaded it ending. I didn’t want it to stop. I wanted one of the characters to arrive and the prophecy that was foretold, to continue on. Here’s hoping that Greg has a follow up planned as what he’s laid before us works so well as a stand-alone, but I want to revisit the world again.
This should be on everyone’s TBR – if it’s not you really need to fix that, and please look beyond the “Flesher” designation in the synopsis. This book is so much more.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
Thomas is no ordinary man. To live, he must devour human flesh. His habitual existence is one of killing and feeding and taking on the physical characteristics of his victims.
Thomas tries to fit in with the rest of humanity, but when his beautiful neighbor, Stephanie deceives him and turns out to be a monster just like him, he decides to discover his heritage and take revenge. Little does he know that there are many other “Fleshers” out there hiding in the shadows of the world and they are at war with each other.
Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.
Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?
Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.
Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?
But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.
While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.
The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.
The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.
Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.
But what if it’s not…
What if there is something out there?
The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”
With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.
Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.
Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…