Necroscope (1986) is the first in a series of 18 novels and novellas that Brian Lumley has written about Harry Keogh, a man who has the power to speak to the dead. I have previously read one of these novellas (The Mobius Murders) and wanted to read more stories about Harry. I purchased the audiobook of this first one at Audible a few years ago and have been waiting for the rest to be put on audio before starting. Fortunately, Macmillan Audio is now producing them.
In Necroscope, we meet Harry for the first time. At the beginning of the story he is just a boy, growing up as an orphan and attending a private school in England. At first he’s a poor student, but when he realizes that he can tap into the thoughts of deceased scholars, he starts to blossom. As he grows into manhood, revenge for his mother’s death is on his mind.
Meanwhile, in Rumania, a boy named Boris Dragosani discovers that he can hear the voice/thoughts of an undead vampire named Thibor Ferenczy who has long been buried underground. Thibor seduces Boris with promises of power and long life, and with the skills he learns from the vampire, Boris becomes the tool of one of the most powerful men in the Soviet Union.
The stories of Harry and Boris wind up slowly but eventually collide in dramatic fashion before coming to a mind-blowing end. Necroscope is a horror story, so there is lots of blood, guts, and gore, though the yuckiest stuff is confined to only a few scenes. One of these, at the beginning of the novel, is one of the grossest scenes I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. I felt sick to my stomach.
Lumley’s prose is beautiful but not always compelling due to its slow pace and occasional overly descriptive passages. There are too many infodumps and lectures in the text, too. But Necroscope has an original take on the vampire story, it’s full of atmosphere, and it’s totally unpredictable. I loved Harry’s power and the way he used it to tap into the minds of dead geniuses. I also liked the science fiction aspects (this has to do with the science behind how Harry’s gift works). I’m eager to learn more.
The audiobook editions of the NECROSCOPE novels are published by Macmillan Audio. James Langton, an Englishman who was trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, is perfectly cast as the narrator. The audiobook version of Necroscope, which is 17.5 hours long, was published in 2015. The next novel, Necroscope II: Vamphyri! was released in July 2018 and the third book, The Source, comes out this week. I’ll be reviewing these soon and hoping that Macmillan Audio has plans for the rest of the series.