The city of Humayunpur, long ago the capital of a powerful dynasty of Central Asian conquerors, lies all but forgotten in a dusty, overlooked, corner of South Central India. Within its crumbling medieval walls, vast tombs and ruined palaces tower above a dense warren of small houses and narrow streets. Once a city of tremendous wealth and influence, Humayunpur has faded into impoverished obscurity.
It’s a place with dark secrets, where the locals whisper of spirits, demons and mad sorcerers.
Now, a travel photographer from abroad finds himself stranded in the lost city. All around him are the mute remains of its glorious, bloody, past. As he peels back, layer by layer, the mysteries of Humayunpur’s decline and fall, he discovers the ruins hide far more than just forgotten history. Everything that he thought he knew about the world is turned on its head.
He finds that something lives still in the ancient tombs of Humayunpur.
This is the second book by Patrick A Rogers, author of The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills
I was intrigued by the premise of this book, what dark secrets could be buried beneath the surface? Just what is being hidden? I do like a story with some intrigue. Spirits, demons and sorcerers – yes please! So it was with great anticipation that I delved into this story.
The Background Information
I must admit I found this hard going to get through. There is a lot of information about the history of the area and the various religions. While interesting, I personally found it difficult to follow. If you are like me you could skip this and still really enjoy the story.
It is clear that Patrick has first hand experience of India. The places are beautifully described, you get a excellent sense of the place. The stifling heat, the crammed streets, the noise. I truly felt transported there while reading. Humayunpur is even more intriguing. You instantly get caught up in this village, why the strange layout? Why are the people who live there so keen to keep all this amazing history a secret? If you are into history and architecture you are going to love reading about this place! When I started reading about all these fabulous ruins and tombs, I was wishing they actually existed. By the end, not so much – more about that later.
The main character is Rick, the photographer. He is journeying across the Muslim world to photograph the architecture for a book. By the time he has reached India, he’s become complacent with life and travelling. He’s bored, keen to get this work over with. I must admit, I wasn’t a massive fan of Rick. I found him quite arrogant and self absorbed, but actually for the story to work he needed to be like this.
The other two main players are Awaz and Narcissus, residents of Humayunpur. Awaz has a kind heart and takes Rick in when his bus breaks down. He try’s to show him what the city has to offer and warn him of the dangers. I ended up feeling incredibly sorry for Awaz. Now Narcissus, I have my theories about her, she knows a lot of information about the village, but how? It never gets revealed in explicit detail, I have drawn my conclusions – I wonder what yours would be?
What a strange little place. Full of superstition and talks of demons. The place is fascinating, definitely somewhere you would want to explore. At night though the village takes on a creepy edge. Rick is plagued with strange dreams and witnesses unusual lights in the sky, along with unexplained screaming that wakes the whole village. There is air of menace, the history that Narcissus tells is certainly bloody. Rick needs to work out how much of that history is playing a part in modern day Humayunpur.
The final throws of this book are as creepy as all hell. There isn’t any graphic violence, somehow that makes it worse! This is a great supernatural mystery. If you like paranormal, fantasy based in reality fiction then grab yourself a copy. Just make sure you message me your theories about Narcissus!!
Many thanks to Patrick for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.