Nick Kyme’s Sepulturum, another entry in the Warhammer Horror series, reads less like a fully-developed novel and more like a novella which didn’t make the cut for The Wicked and the Damned and then got padded out to novel length thanks to side-stories with minor characters with little bearing on the main plot, thick margins, wide line spacing, and a short page count. Nick Kyme and Black Library really seem to have sweated to stretch this material out over 200 pages so they could sell it as a novel, but not done that much in the way of polishing beyond that.
It’s a shame, because the baseline concept – ie what I presume was the premise of a shorter piece that has been padded out to this length – is pretty good. Morgravia Sanctus is an Inquisitor of the Ordo Sepulturum, a minor subset of the Inquisition with the specific role of addressing what they euphemistically call “plagues of unbelief” – zombie apocalypse outbreaks, in other words.
And that’s about all Morgravia knows – her memories having been shattered and largely sealed away from her after an encounter with, she assumes, the targets of one of her investigations. To try and sort her head out, she decides to make contact with the Broker, a mysterious dealer in illicit information and services who happens to be able to put her in touch with an equally shadowy rogue psyker, the Empath, who might be able to do the job. But, of course, it will take the Broker a lot of convincing before she gives an Inquisitor the Empath’s details – and when a zombie plague (28 Days Later variant, specifically) breaks out in the hive city, the Broker and Morgravia’s negotiations become much more complicated…
That’s not a terrible premise for a story, but as I say it’s weighed down by a lot of side stories about characters we don’t especially care about and who don’t turn out to be enormously important to the central matter. Part of me wonders whether it was even originally intended as a Warhammer Horror piece, because it’s very much on the action movie side of the zombie apocalypse spectrum, and the more a Warhammer 40,000 story leans on action the more it feels like vanilla 40K rather than Warhammer Horror. I got about 100 pages in, got bored, flipped ahead to work out what was going on with the Inquisitor’s memories, wasn’t especially excited about it, and gave up.