FINALLY; here it is. Sorry to take so long getting this posted. This is an overview of the amazing series written by Brian Lumley titled Necroscope. If you haven’t read these books (or worse, haven’t even HEARD of them) then hopefully you will rush out and read them!!!
1986 was a damn good year for horror: We got an amazing remake of The Fly by no other than David Cronenberg, From Beyond by Stuart Gordon, Night of the Creeps by Fred Dekker, and Demons 2 by Lamberto Bava. We also got such guilty pleasures as Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall, Steve Miner’s House, and George Pavlou’s Rawhead Rex. In the world of horror literature Stephen King gave us It; Dean Koontz wrote Strangers; and Joe R. Lansdale published Dead in the West. But what many people overlook is that in 1986 Brian Lumley wrote the first of the Necroscope books, detailing the adventures of Harry Keogh and how he became THE Necroscope with the ability to talk to the dead and transport himself anywhere in the world (and universe as it is) in the blink of an eye using The Möbius Continuum. This 512 page novel is rich with character development, history, and violence. I remember the exact bookstore where I first came across it; a now long-out-of-business little ma & pa bookstore … you know, the kind that use to exist before such superstores like Borders and Barnes & Nobles swallowed such stores up. It was a summer day and I was just looking around for something scary and unique, and when I saw the cover, a huge skull with a pointy tongue and sharp teeth, I was immediately drawn to it. To be honest, I didn’t even read what it was about. In my gut I knew this was gonna be a great book. (And I’m not alone in that thought. All the art work I am including in this post was done by fans of the Necroscope series. All the artwork can be found at http://brianlumley.com)
As I started reading Necroscope I immediately got sucked into the deep character development of theprotagonist, Harry Keogh, and how he came into his tremendous powers. Yes, there were times the book seemed to drag on. Lumley gets a little too detailed sometimes when giving a character’s back story. But in the end these (at times overly) detailed characterizations only helped to elevate this novel above the typical s**t in the genre. You actually care deeply for the “heroes” and you really hate the “bad guys”. I just knew I was reading something very special.
A little less than half way into the novel it hit me. It was 1990 and I was substitute teaching and monitoring an exam that morning when I realized that Necroscope is a vampire novel. Not just any kind of vampire novel but one that was unique, very original, violent, and actually scary!!! I’m glad I didn’t read the back cover of the novel in the book store because I would’ve never bought a vampire book; I’ve been burned by too many authors cranking out shitty vampire novels, trying to make a quick buck. But Necroscope was different.
Even before finishing it I raced back to the bookstore and found that there were already three more books in the series written (Necroscope IV: Deadspeak was released in 1990). I bought them all and then finished reading the first Necroscope. For the next 19 years Harry Keogh and the Wamphyri were a huge part of my horror appetite. For you horror fans who aren’t familiar with this amazing series of books, keep reading. Every fan of horror needs to read these books; they are THAT good.
Full disclosure here: The last Necroscope novel I read was 2006’s Necroscope: The Touch. I haven’t read the first Necroscope since 1990. This article isn’t meant to be a book-by-book review. This is an overview of Lumley’s amazing Necroscope series. In total Lumley wrote 15 books in the series. Here’s the breakdown:
The original Necroscope series:
Necroscope II: Wamphyri! (1988)
Necroscope III: The Source (1989)
Necroscope IV: Deadspeak (1990)
Necroscope V: Deadspawn (1991)
The Vampire World Trilogy:
Blood Brothers (1992)
The Last Aerie (1993)
The Lost Years Series:
Necroscope: The Lost Years (1995)
Necroscope: Resurgence, The Lost Years Volume 2 (1996)
The E-Branch Trilogy:
E-Branch 1: Invaders (1998)
E-Branch 2: Defilers (1999)
E-Branch 3: Avengers (2000)
Lumley’s Attempt to Revive the Necroscope Books:
Necroscope: The Touch (2006)
Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates (2009)
The one negative thing is that none of these series stands on its own. In order to fully understand what the Vampire World trilogy or The Lost Years is about, you need to have read all the books before it. That’s bad news if you just wanna jump around and read the books as you find them. But its great news if you’re looking for a mind-shattering series of horror books that will keep you completely engrossed until the last page of the last book. The only book I haven’t read yet is Harry and the Pirates. It’s on my list but I haven’t gotten around to it. And to be honest, I’m kind of hesitant to read it.
The last book in the series, The Touch, was actually very disappointing. At 512 pages it definitely dragged on in a few spots. You could feel that Lumley was trying to revive the Necroscope series with The Touch
by injecting some new blood (ah-hem) into the franchise, but it just didn’t work (the vampires here were replaced by evil aliens. Blech). A few familiar characters show up in The Touch, but by now the magic and originality of the Necroscope series was too late to revive. It was like watching the three newest Star Wars movies: You wanted them to be awesome and kick ass, but no matter how hard you tried to convince yourself they were good, deep down inside you knew they sucked monkey balls. The Touch left me feeling the same way, and the effect was devastating.
It was like meeting up with your best friend from high school only to discover that you have nothing in common anymore. After reading The Touch you realize that the magic Lumley captured with the Necroscope series is gone; it’s the end of a franchise. But on the bright side there were still 10 amazing, unable-to-put-down books to read and three more that were pretty good (the E-Branch series).
Here’s the basic story of the entire series in a nutshell (and for those of you who are going to read these books, there are a few spoilers): Harry Keogh is the world’s only necroscope; he can talk to dead people, using what is called “deadspeak.” Harry forms strong bonds with the dead, and the dead love Harry because he is a “light in the eternal darkness.” With this bond Harry realizes he can learn from the dead. In the first novel Harry learns to fight like an expert from a dead army sergeant he lets inhabit his body. We also learn that whatever someone was or wished to be in life they continue to be after death. For example an inventor continues to invent new things while a poet continues to compose new poetry in death.
In a very important part of the series and in Harry’s development, he hooks up with the dead German Mathematician August Möbius. Möbius has been continuing his theoretical math formulas after death and teaches Harry about the Möbius Continuum. This allows Harry to transport himself anywhere in the universe by simply “thinking” about complex math formulas; the formulas create a “door” whereby you enter the Möbius Continuum and can instantly appear anywhere (there is no passage of time in the continuum). This becomes valuable because Harry also learns from his legions of dead friends that there also exist vampires in the world; violent, savage, blood thirsty vampires that want to conquer the earth and enslave humanity to use as food.
Because of Harry’s tremendous powers he is recruited by E-Branch, a super-secret British organization that is made up of people with special powers. There are such people as telepaths, empaths, people with telekinesis, and even a woman who is so in-tune with Mother Earth that she knows when the earth is being damaged (she becomes physically sickened when a company is dumping toxic waste in the oceans).
Very cool s**t people. Harry is the most powerful of the E-Branch members and he leads the group in uncovering and hunting down vampires. But these are not your typical faggy, Euro-trash, Anne Rice/Stephenie Meyer’s vampires. Lumley takes the traditional vampire myth, rams his fist up its ass, and turns it inside out. It’s the most original vampire myth I’ve ever read. Think the vampires from the movie Near Dark crossed with H.P. Lovecraft’s Elders (this is no wonder being that Lumley was greatly influenced by Lovecraft. Lumley’s first few works, in fact, were set mainly in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos milieu and even echoed Lovecraft’s literary style). Hell yeah!!! His vampires are so original, in fact, that he creates a new name for them: Wamphyri.
Lumley’s Wamphyri come from a parallel universe known as Starside/Sunside. An experiment with a high-powered photon beam in the Ural mountains opened a “door” connecting these two worlds. The Wamphyri now know about our world and they want only to conquer it. But what exactly are Lumley’s Wamphyri? The short answer: In a dark and deadly swamp on Starside there are leeches there that infect people and begin the transformation to Wamphyri. One doesn’t become Wamphyri immediately. The leech at first gives the host a lot of “powers”: They become inhumanly strong, develop psychic abilities, develop quick healing abilities, and also develop a blood lust which the leech needs to survive. But as the leech grows bigger the host loses more and more of their humanity until ultimately the leech takes over completely. The ascension to Wamphyri Lord is described by Lumley in detail and is just absolutely horrendous. The Wamphyri don’t just suck blood and kill; they torture, rape, humiliate, and eat the flesh of human beings. They are also very territorial creatures that will annihilate anyone/thing that stands in their way. They are truly the most horrifying creatures in modern horror literature.
Keogh fathers a son who inherits his powers. Harry Jr. in fact becomes even stronger than his father and has better mastery over the Möbius Continuum.
During an attack by a Wamphyri Lord, Harry Jr. transports himself and his mom to Starside/Sunside where they live out the rest of their lives. Harry Jr. marries and has twin sons with a Szgany girl (the name of the race of gypsy’s on Starside/Sunside), and his two sons, Nathan and Nestor, become the focus of the Vampire World Trilogy. As good as the original Necroscope series is the Vampire World Trilogy will blow your fucking mind!! Even Lumley considers that trilogy his “finest, most ambitious and important work.” In that trilogy we follow twins Nathan and Nestor and see how one develops his father’s amazing necroscope powers while the other takes the path of the Wamphyri. This trilogy is rich with Wamphyri history and will have you skipping work just to read more.
Trying to summarize this very intricate, detailed series of books is like trying to get to Mars in a hot air balloon. Lumley gives us detailed histories of many various Wamphyri bloodlines and over the course of the series gets extremely detailed about exactly what these Wamphyri are and how they develop. It’s an incredible series of books that you need to read. Lumley’s writing style is quick-paced (except in the few places where he gets bogged down with a little too much history) and very descriptive. His descriptions of various battles with the Wamphyri are so violent you’ll be sitting there with your mouth hanging open wondering, “Did I just read that correctly?” I’ve included a few of Lumley’s sketches of what the Wamphyri might look like, but trust me; your mind will create some of the most nightmarish visions of what these creatures look like based on his descriptions. They are terrifying.
Writing this article has really given me a taste to relive this series. After I’m done reading the current book I’m on (a zombie novel, Thunder and Ashes), I’m gonna go back and re-read the Necroscope series. You won’t be disappointed, and they may do for you what they did for me: Prove that vampires really ARE ferocious, scary creatures that are actually capable for terrifying the s**t out of you!!!