Score: 89/100 (8.9 out of 10)
Greedy as a Ghoul is the short-story debut of author Casey Sutton and a prequel to their upcoming fantasy novel Malfus: Necromancer Unchained. It definitely got us interested in reading the full work!
This teaser is a serviceable story with an interesting lead protagonist, Malfus the Necromancer, who lives life on the edge in more ways than one. He's sits on the precipice of good intentions and corruption. He also hangs on the edge of starvation and death himself.
It also benefits from impressively good, detailed, and colorful writing.
There are seriously some gorgeous lines in here. Here are a few examples:
“Sword and dagger served as judge and jury”
“...a cacophony of cawing and yapping”
“Cords of muscle bulged under the ghoul's translucent skin”
If the end product (Malfus: Necromancer Unchained”) is written with the same quality as this, then it could very well score a 9.4 or higher.
Really, the thing holding this book back is how unfinished and incomplete it feels. Don't get us wrong, what's here is good. Some of it, like we listed, is great. It just... feels like something's missing. We're guessing that's the point because it wet our appetites and got us wanting more, but at the same time we have to compare a book like this to something like Captain Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms by David Bush and Sword Above All by Domenic Melillo, books that are solid, complete, well-told stories from beginning to end. By comparison to its competition, the story leaves a lot to be desired. Event the maps and illustrations, which look like they had a lot of effort put into them, suffer from some sort of drop of pixel rate/quality that makes them look worse than they should.
Still, Malfus is a promising character with a lot of potential. How cool of a premise is this? Haunted by the death of his lover, Kiara, Malfus comes into possession of mystical texts capable of giving him powers over the dead. He pursues this route, in a very Dr. Frankenstein-like manner, so that no one will have to suffer the sting of death as he has. Similar to Dr. Frankenstein, his noble goal becomes a frightening obsession that threatens to unhinge him as well as his world. He even calls it a “noble endeavor.”
What he's doing is not just macabre, it's pretty much desecration. He even carries the severed finger of Kiara with him in a box to motivate himself.
He takes the approach that it's easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission (“humanity can thank me later...”). He also becomes quite vain and egotistical despite the fact that he probably looks like a corpse at this point (“...the world will remember my name”).
The premise of this book sees a starving Malfus come upon the corpses of soldiers from a recent battle—the ultimate test and opportunity for his necromancer abilities. Ironically, despite living off his last bit of jerky, Malfus is surrounded by frenzied and feeding animals who follow his grizzly journey.
It is a world filled with danger, zombies, and ghouls—monsters both outside and inside.
Check it out on Amazon!