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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Necromantica by Keith Blenman (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)


Official Author Website
Order Necromantica over HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Keith Blenman hails from Metro Detroit. He teaches forensic analysis, works as a compliance coordinator in retail, and independently publishes fiction. He is short, chubby, and heavily tattooed.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: In this heart-stopping, dark fantasy, two thieves charge through an epic battle between monsters and men. One, a necromancer, a sorceress who uses black magic to manipulate the dead. The other, a rogue assassin and skilled swordsman. Enemies to both armies, allied only to each other, they face doom at every moment on a suicide mission to steal from a holy king.

FORMAT/INFONecromantica is 192 pages long divided over 8 numbered parts, followed by the Epilogue. This is the first volume of the Vecris series.

The book was self-published by the author on November 17th, 2015 and it's available as an e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Cover art and design is provided by  Christina Irwin.

ANALYSIS: Most literary editors advise, strongly, against writing a novel in the second person. Such narration tends to disorient a reader who, instead of focusing on the story, may wonder if the narrator/protagonist addresses her or someone else in the story. Blenman’s Necromantica plays with the narrative and switches, deliberately, between the second and first-person point of view. 

In this visceral story, a pair of thieves charge through an epic battle between monsters and men. One, a necromancer, the other, a rogue assassin and skilled swordsman. They want to steal an amulet from the most powerful man in the world. Basically, they go from point A to point B in Dungeons & Dragons type setting, kill everyone along the way, and then they have a boss fight with the bad guy. We’ve already seen it. But never told this way. 
I barely notice myself. The whisper of my blades is echoed by mists of blood. I liberate orc heads from their bodies. I slap the flat side of my swords against the arrows meant for me, deflecting them into other enemies. I break bones. I shatter faces. Their infantry surrounds me and I teach them to regret it. I become lost in my own rampage. One of them shot you. For that there are sliced torsos. There are severed jaws. And there are screams. So, so many horrible screams.
Emotionally charged storytelling makes it visceral. It switches between past and present (in separated chapters), and has a trance-like quality. I won’t spoil anything by revealing something obvious - it’s not the author speaking to us in second-person POV; it is a first-person narrator (Lama, the rogue swordsman) who is speaking to Mornia (necromancer). We observe the events through his eyes as he refers them in the present tense. Lama tells the story as I, and Mornia is described mostly as You. His connection and deep love for Mornia make the second-person narration both plausible and meaningful. Once you get used to it, it creates a feeling of immediacy and intimacy. But yes, it’s a little experimental. Some readers will embody Mornia, while others will feel lost and find the narrative jarring.

Necromantica is, essentially, a love story. You feel it in the way Lama speaks to Mornia. You see it in Mornia’s behavior. Remember, they’re not sharing a drink. They’re in the midst of the battle and they slaughter enemies. Call it a dark fantasy romance. I mean, you don’t write a story called Necromantica without it being dark, right?

Lama and Mornia share heart-wrenching stories. Mornia used to live a free, spiritual life and wanted to grow into a healer. By the time the story begins, her life has been robbed from her and ell her loved ones killed. She survived, but she’s broken. Whatever magic she possessed, she used for revenge. Instead of healing people, she focused on black arts and necromancy. 

Lama, a son if a slumlord who used to pit his bastard children in dogfights for profits, is a thief and a murderer. He’s never experienced much kindness from others, save for Mornia. He’ll do anything for her. And, with his swords, he can do a lot. Split arrows. Decimate enemies. Maim and kill.

They've never been given a fair chance. Both are flawed and tragic. But they have each other. And as readers, we observe their twisted romance as they plow through the armies of orcs and men.

CONCLUSION: Despite being brutal and dark, the story doesn’t read as nihilistic. It offers some comic relief (introduction of The Fish Thief of Luna Falls) and deep connection between protagonists. Necromantica impressed me with a memorable blend of first- and second-person narration, visceral action-scenes and skillfully developed characters. There’s something special about it. I can’t promise you’ll love it as much as I did. But I think you should try it as it is, in many ways, unique.

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