book review, horror

Nekyia by Joseph Sale

Nekyia, The collected four horsemen and the fifth horseman is rich in symbolism, covers life and death, and is essential reading for those who love Sale’s work.

The first part of the book is a series of short stories introducing a different character.

In City of Illusion, Yin rules the Circle in death, spreading fear among his subjects. Can Hagga, filled with need, help her fellow travellers tear down the illusion and discover what lies beyond?

The Contained introduces one of Sale’s enduring characters – Dr Monaghan – and shows a man of faith willing to sacrifice himself to contain a monster (neither of which are Dr Monaghan!).

Nothing Gives is a Greek myth reimagined in modern England, as a couple of men from the Traveler community search for a missing woman, stolen by The Taking Man.

Enantiodromia shows us death, through the eyes of some new arrivals.

In the novella, The Fifth Horseman, characters come together from all the previous stories in a dense, symbolism laden tale full of the author’s trademark layers, depth and monsters.

This is one of Sale’s earlier works, and it is interesting to see how his writing has grown. His rich themes are in evidence in all the stories, along with his nuanced characters and exceptional world building, however I found his writing style much less accessible.

The Contained is an exciting story, probably the easiest story to read in this collection.

Nothing Gives is grounded by strong characters and a noir type mystery, despite its surreal, mythological trappings.

However, the stories set in death are much harder to understand. It took me quite a while to get into City of Illusion as, not only is it set in a world alien to the living, it also jumps from character to character with little frame of reference. Once I managed to get a handle on what was going on, it became easier to decipher.

It is undoubtable that reading this book requires a bit of brain work. Each sentence is so full of meaning that I almost took notes as I read so that I wouldn’t miss anything. The hard work is well worth putting in, however, as it pays in dividends.

Despite mainly taking place in death, my personal interpretation of the land of the Prince is very much about life, especially finding a reason to live when depressed and all is grey, when the very world seems to consume you and want to strip all colour from you. When other people could easily be monsters as friends. Perhaps this is a personal message that only I will draw from the tale, but that is the beauty of Nekyia. For those who put the effort into deciphering it, they too will find their own narrative reflected in the world.

I award Nekyia

Nekyia is available for $4.89 ebook and $26.25 print book on Amazon.


Read my reviews of Joseph Sale’s other books:

God’s of the Black Gate

Beyond the Black Gate

Return to the Black Gate

Save Game

9 thoughts on “Nekyia by Joseph Sale”

  1. Hey Iseult. I must have missed the fact you reviewed this one on here as well! I’m so sorry. I stumbled on it while looking at a few of your other more recent reviews! Thank you so much!! It’s funny but going back and re-reading them now, having just done a re-release, I feel the same way about the style… I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. I try now to keep the same level of symbolism and imbedded meaning but for the writing itself to be fluent and flexile. A synthesis of the two is not always easy, though!

    Liked by 1 person

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