In the horror genre, the consumption of human flesh and blood is a fairly regular thing. There are plenty of stories about cannibals and flesh-eating zombies, so it is refreshing to see a story that handles things differently. Greg Chapman offers a flesh-eating tale that falls somewhere between the extremes of the living and the dead in his novel “Netherkind”.
Thomas leads a solitary life of torment. He has no memories of life before waking in the apartment he calls home, but that isn’t the most disturbing thing in his life. He has a condition where his body decays painfully if he doesn’t eat human flesh every day. It is an uncontrollable need he fights daily, but never wins. He doesn’t know how it started or whether there are others out there with his same condition. That all changes the day he meets his new neighbor, Stephanie
Stephanie is just moving into the apartment building Thomas lives in and does her best to spend time with him. After spending one night together, he learns some horrifying truths about her. She is like him, a consumer of human flesh. When he awakes, he finds the doors to all the apartments on their floor bashed in and the occupants stripped clean to the bone. His new neighbor, who he just had sex with, reveals that she is like Thomas and that there are more like them hiding in the world. She’d been stalking him for weeks, watching him live and kill, just for the chance to meet and get impregnated by him. With those tasks accomplished, she wounds him and leaves him to die.
Rather than succumb to his injuries, Thomas survives and begins hunting for Stephanie. His travels bring him close frequently, but never close enough. Eventually, he discovers another of their kind, referred to collectively as Fleshers. The Flesher, named Nero and leads Thomas to their kingdom under the city. He discovers they are one of five tribes, each different in their mindset, physical conditions, and abilities.
Thomas’ clan refers to themselves as Phagun. Another group is called Lepers, whose skin is sickly looking and sloughing off, but whose touch is acidic. A third tribe is the spiritual Stygma, followers of a god named Okin. The fourth group of Fleshers are shapeshifters named Skiift, with humans making up the last group. The Skiift, the Stygma, and the Phagun have waged a centuries-long religious war between, partially fueled by the Phagun’s desire to treat humans as food.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, which develops into a chosen one tale. What is Thomas’ history and how does it fit into what needs to be done? How does Stephanie fit into the entire picture? The book answers these questions and more.
I liked the story, but found it a little confusing at certain points, particularly when following who was speaking. That aside, I thought Greg Chapman did a good job with this story, particularly with the sensory descriptions. I recommend this book for anyone needing a rainy day or late-night read. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.
Until next time, Addicts.