Fury From The Tomb by S A Sidor

May 10, 2018

Saqqara, Egypt, 1888, and in the booby-trapped tomb of an ancient sorcerer, Rom, a young Egyptologist, makes the discovery of a lifetime: five coffins and an eerie, oversized sarcophagus. But the expedition seems cursed, for after unearthing the mummies, all but Rom die horribly. He faithfully returns to America with his disturbing cargo, continuing by train to Los Angeles, home of his reclusive sponsor. When the train is hijacked by murderous banditos in the Arizona desert, who steal the mummies and flee over the border, Rom – with his benefactor’s rebellious daughter, an orphaned Chinese busboy, and a cold-blooded gunslinger – must ride into Mexico to bring the malevolent mummies back. If only mummies were their biggest problem…

Angry Robot have long been one of my favourite imprints; their authors always deliver the most delightfully quirky reads. Based on experience I know that anything they publish is going to be a treat. When it comes to genre fiction, the self-styled Exasperated Automatons consistently deliver books that are hugely entertaining and blissfully easy to lose yourself in.  I’m pleased to report that their latest, Fury From The Tomb by S A Sidor, continues this trend.

Take it from me, I work in higher education, Dr Romulus Hugo Hardy is your quintessential academic.  He is the consummate scholar, happy to wax lyrical about bygone ages and learn the secrets of times past.  He dreams about travelling to Egypt and discovering what once was lost. Enter mysterious benefactor, Montague Pythagoras Waterson.  Hardy is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Throwing caution to the wind Hardy embraces his inner explorer and engages in some suitably action-packed field work. Far from the safe confines of the reference library, deep in the desert, our erstwhile hero finds himself coming face to face with an ancient evil.

I think the thing I like most about the good doctor is his transformation as the story unfolds. That dawning realisation when Hardy admits to himself that he needs to fight the horrors, feels palpable. Turns out attempting to derail the forces of darkness is going to change anyone however staid they may be.

The plot has a globetrotting feel. From New York to Egypt and then onwards to the American/Mexico border the narrative rattles along, keeping the reader on their toes. In the fine tradition of vintage heroes like Indiana Jones* or Doc Savage, there is much derring-do on display. Hardy meets some interesting characters along the way. Miss Evangeline is the embodiment of practicality. Far smarter than just about everyone around her, she is more than a match for any one of them. Then there is the enigmatic gunslinger Rex McTroy. Hardy is more of a thinker than a doer, so having a sharpshooter onside is more than a little use.

The reverential nods towards its cinematic forebears are well handled. Fury From The Tomb does a grand job of tapping into that sense of adventure. Where things differ is the tone of the novel. Fury has a nice vein of Cthulhu flavoured otherworldliness running straight through the middle of it. Turns out, mummies are a vile bunch. Add to that some cannibalistic monks and undead banditos, and you’ll start to see a trend developing. There are flashes of horror dotted throughout the text that manage to add both a sinister and gross overtone to proceedings. From a personal perspective I found the giant maggots were particularly gruesome. I was repulsed and entranced in equal measure.

As an aside, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the first-rate cover design. The artwork by Daniel Strange enhances the retro stylings of the text it is partnered with. It’s exactly the sort of image I would happily make into a poster, frame it and put it up on a wall. The distinctive classic B movie cover art is one of the first reasons I was keen to read the book. It is very effective in suggesting the delights that lie within.

The first book featuring the exploits of The Institute for Singular Antiquities is a rare find. This homage to old school adventure is great fun and delivers exactly what it promises. Entertaining, exciting and unexpected, Fury From The Tomb will keep any action and adventure fan hooked from page one. My only hope is that this story is the first of many.

Picking music to accompany Fury From The Tomb really couldn’t have been easier. The soundtrack to The Mummy, the Brendan Fraser rather than Tom Cruise variant, is a damn near perfect fit. Jerry Goldsmith knows his stuff when it comes to scoring rip-snorting adventure. Part of me also likes to think Rick O’Connell and Romulus Hardy are genre blood brothers of a sort.

Fury From The Tomb is published by Angry Robot and is available now.

*Seriously, I could almost picture a thick red line moving from destination to destination on a tattered old map.

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