I have been waiting to talk about this book. It is something that I have been really excited to share with you guys and something that I’ve found myself looking for more of in other books lately. This one’s thanks to the nice folks at Aconyte Books, here’s Josh Reynolds’ Wrath of N’Kai. Enjoy!

Wrath of NKai cover

A mummy, bound and folded in on itself, its face covered with a mask like a cross between a bat and a toad, was discovered in a mound in Oklahoma and brought back to Arkham to be displayed , shown off. Taking a brief trip away from Europe to lie low after a job that nearly went wrong, Countess Alessandra Zorzi finds herself hired to acquire this most strange artifact from its display at Miskatonic Museum. She never has believed in any of the stories her clients have about the artifacts they send her after. As she finds herself haunted by night terrors of deep darkness and the things within it and her client’s ever more violent insistence that she recover the mummy, learning the truth might be her only chance at survival.

Josh Reynolds’ Wrath of N’Kai is a book that I found myself simultaneously wanting to devour all at once and that I kept putting off finishing because I wanted it to keep going. The prose was just really tasty in a way that I leaves me still wanting more of it even after having waited a little while to write this because I wanted to write something other than just a bunch of fangirling.

I adored Alessandra Zorzi as a protagonist. She hit just that right spot of being charming and treating the people around her well while also doing that because treating people well allows her a degree of social invisibility. She’s entirely delightful, in the way that protagonists who are distinctly morally grey can be and it’s a lot of fun to see this very Lovecraftian setting through the eyes of a character who does not believe in any of it. This extends to all of the notable characters. They’re all well written and feel  really well thought out. Pepper, the cabbie turned a major source of assistance for Alessandra, was a stand out for me. The insurance guy, Whitlock, was also a solid inclusion adding a much more mundane concern than the mummy eating cultists.

In addition to the present of the story, the reader is given enough about Alessandra’s past exploits to know that Alessandra is extremely capable, that she is good at being a thief of the strange with wide reaching contacts and years of experience. The writing shows her being confident and competent and that makes any moment where something puts her in danger feel properly dangerous. I never found myself thinking that a threat felt less because it was directed at the protagonist rather than a side character. The use of nightmares and physical revulsion to boost the tension added an almost visceral element to the danger. Like something lurking all around waiting for Alessandra to stumble across it, not a physical danger like the cultists or her mysterious client, but a complement to it from within. The setting work and the moments where things go just a bit wrong with swimming shadows and Alessandra being thrown off balance are fantastic.

All of that leads to a novel with prose that I found absolutely delicious. I found myself going back over passages just because of how well they landed for me. I started reading Wrath of N’Kai with certain genre based expectations of how things would play out. Those expectations rubbed up against the nature of the book as a tie in to the Arkham Horror games in a way that felt fun and left me wanting several more books with these characters and more from the franchise as a whole. I found myself not only wanting to read more of Reynolds’ work but also wanting to dig into the table top game and pull my friends along for the ride. For me, Wrath of N’Kai earns a five out of five.