Okay, I read this NARAKA by Alessandro Manzetti a few weeks ago and have been holding off on writing a review about it because I wasn’t sure how to approach it. This book was brutal. I’ve read Laymon and Ketchem and Lee and this book was as brutal if not more so than any other the stuff those guys have written. Violent, bloody, disturbing; pick any of those words that you would use to describe any of the splatter-punk horror writers and this book is that, times a million.
I’m having a hard time even beginning to describe the plot. Inside a space prison, female prisoners are raped by numerous men in order to breed, those children are then used in experiments and also consumed by cannibals living in the prison. There are also the slicers, machines that chop and slice humans for the express purpose of selling the meat to people living on Earth, only they don’t know they are eating human meat. The wealthy throw illegal canabalism parties where they eat the flesh of the living.
There are many characters and many points of view but the story that flows through the entire novel is the tale of Kiki, a former prostitute turned assassin. She is by far the most interesting character who is able to escape the prison and get back to earth to assassinate the man who helped land her in the prison in the first place. If there is a theme in running through the interconnected stories running through this novel it is the theme of revenge.
For all of the hardcore horror violence and blood in this book, the novel is very well written. Once the splatter punk facade is stripped away, what is left is a story with an incredibly well developed protagonist and equally developed antagonist and secondary characters that the reader cares about as much as the main characters. As mentioned above, the theme of revenge weaves throughout the entire novel in a way that makes the reader realize it was done purposefully from the outset.
Thinking about this novel from the point of view of someone who does not appreciate the blood and gore, the characterization and development would be missed. There are also very few novels who can claim a setting to be an important character in the story, but Naraka is one of the ones that can. The prison itself is very much a character and possibly the most evil of all the antagonists in the novel. The protagonist and pretty much every character act or react based on the prison looming somewhere above them.
Near the beginning of this book, we are told the Naraka is a Hindu word for hell. And from page one we are shown how Naraka in an appropriate name for the prison. Naraka may be another word for hell, but it is also one hell of a book. If you can put up with the violence it’s worth the read.
Want more spooky reads? Just search down below and find a tone of awesome horror recommendations!