Review: Arkham Horror – Wrath of N’Kai
Between its weird cults, fast-talking gangsters and ancient horrors, Wrath of N’Kai squeezes so much pulp into its pagecount that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a squashed orange. This is not, however, a bad thing.
The fast-paced book draws us into a tale of Countess Alessandra Zorzi, international thief and daring adventurer, as she takes on a contract in the small town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Naturally, what starts out as a larcenous trip through high society parties and prohibition-era speakeasies soon descends into a web of mystical horror. Almost from the moment you turn the first page Zorzi is brushing up against secret societies, consulting dusty old professors about lost artefacts and tangling with tommy-gun-toting gangsters.
It is not, to be frank, the most original plot in the world. In fact, it’s pretty much the kind of story you’d expect an algorithm to spit out after you fed it a stack of Cthulhu Mythos products and Arkham Horror games. However, it’s delivered at such a rollicking pace and with so much frenetic charm that you’re unlikely to actually care.
This isn’t the kind of book to ponder and ruminate on, but rather the ideal thing to make a lengthy train journey fly past in the blink of an eye. It’s something to crack open when you get into bed, and then accidentally tear through in a single sleepy sitting.
On the thought of late nights, it’s also worth pointing out that despite its obvious Lovecraftian influences, Wrath of N’Kai is not – strictly speaking – a horror story. Yes, there are occasional elements pulled from Lovecraft’s weird and creepy tales, but these are mostly used to drive the action rather than spook out a terrified reader.
Instead, it sits rather neatly in the category of pulp adventure, tinged with the set-dressing and stylings of the Arkham Horror board games. If you’re already a fan of those you can expect a scattershot of references and cameos, such as the presence of the Silver Twilight Lodge, but I doubt you need any extensive knowledge of the series to have a good time with Wrath of N’Kai.
Honestly, all you really need to get on with the book is a desire for a little fun. Blood-soaked, otherworldly fun, but fun nonetheless.
A delightfully paced bit of pulp adventure, heavily seasoned with Lovecraft-tinged horror
Publisher: Aconyte Books