To my understanding The Rising: Necrophobia served as promotional material for the City of the Dead back in 2003. In the introduction (Which was written in 2003.) Brian Keene describes The City of the Dead as not being finished and that Necrophobia was intended to hold the fans over until the sequel was completed. Currently Necrophobia is out of print and a little hard to find on the secondary market. It contains four short stories and three of them are very enjoyable. The four short stories are as follows:
1.Waiting for Infinity by Brian Keene
This was the weakest story out of the collection and just came off lazy. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention since I imagine a lot of hardcore fans wanted to know more about the novella that eventually evolved into The Rising. However the majority of this short story appears word for word in chapter Two of the Rising. I found myself skimming through it because I was already familiar with that chapter. I give this one a three out of five. I get how it’s cool to see how the predecessor of the successful book originally looked, so I am forgiving of how redundant it is.
2.The Beautiful Place by Brett McBean
This was my second favorite story in this collection, which takes place in the Australian outback. The story is about Simon Fletcher who seeks to bring the woman he loves named Tully to her special place. The character clearly endures hell to bring her there, while the author manages to craft a emotionally endearing story with the little amount of space he has to work with. The interesting aspect of this story is that there is very little zombie action in this one. Yet I found myself caring a lot of about the undead Austrian outback. I definitely give this one a four out of five. The ending might make the more romantic readers a little teary eyed at the end.
3.At The River by The Temple by John Urbancik
This one was my absolute favorite of this collection, I was barely able to put the book down with this one. If you have the slightest interest in martial arts, this story is definitely a must read. Reading through the biography in the back, I was delighted to find out that John Urbancik is in fact a martial artist himself. This definitely shows in this novella that takes place somewhere in Asia. The story is essentially about a monk named Pai and his deceased master named Si Gong. The fun starts immediately as the Siqqusim possess the corpse of Pai’s master who precedes to slaughter all of his former pupils. There is a lot of fun fight scenes involving the experienced Pai, plus the final battle is too epic for words. Lots of gory martial arts fun and a five out of five from me!
4.One Last Night in August by Mike Oliveri
This short story is the last one in the The Rising: Necrophobia collection. To be honest I had a lot of fun with this one as well. I honestly wish this collection was a lot longer because all of the guest authors were super talented and all of them had a very clear grasp on Brian Keene’s doomed world. Mike Oliveri’s story is similar to Brett McBean’s in that a unnamed protagonist tries to protect his sick wife named Leslie. Unlike McBean’s short story, there is a lot of more action and carnage however. The ending made me wish I could continue to see how the main character would wage war against the undead Siqqusim hordes. This one earned a four out of five stars!
This chapbook works as a companion piece so before reading it, it’s better to read both The Rising: Author’s Preferred Edition and City of the Dead: Author’s Preferred Edition first. It isn’t absolutely required but it definitely would help a lot.
The version of Necrophobia I own is numbered 24 of 500. This version of Necrophobia was limited to 500 copies only and given away for free to customers of Delirium Books as a thanks for their support. I am unaware of the hardcover edition and I am not sure what the story is with that one. Both the paperback and hardcover versions of the chapbook fetch a hefty price on the secondary market. If you have a sharp eye you can probably catch it for around $50 dollars if you must have it in your collection. It definitely isn’t as hard to find as The Field Guide to The Thirteen or The Rising: Deliverance.
Overall I give the entire collection a 4.5 out of 5 stars. John Urbancik stole the show in this one, rivaling a lot of Brian Keene’s own short stories placed in this universe. Hell, Urbancik could of wrote all of the stories in this book and I would of been fine with that. I was very glad to have read this collection. John Urbancik, Mike Oliveri and Brett McBean could create their own Rising side story series and I would be totally fine with that. The series is definitely in good hands with those three.