Review by Jonathan Oliver
You may know Jack Yeovil better as that dapper gent Kim Newman, author of such genre classics as Anno Dracula and Jago. Here Newman is writing under his nom de plume, producing franchise fiction for a gaming company. Some may be put off by the idea of reading such a collection but you really shouldn’t be. Firstly you don’t need to have played the Warhammer games to understand these books and, secondly, the writing here is of high quality.
In this omnibus edition we have all of Yeovil’s Warhammer books so you really do get your money’s worth. Most of the fiction here is centred around the character Genevieve Duedonné, a vampire over 600 years old, and her various adventures in the Warhammer universe. Firstly we have Drachenfels in which Genevieve helps with the destruction of an ancient sorcerer only to see him return. Most of the story here concerns a theatre company’s play about the defeat of the dark lord and Newman captures the chaos and excitement of the performing arts perfectly. There is a dry wit to Yeovil’s writing but when the high fantasy comes out then he shows himself to be equally adept at writing scenes of sword and sorcery.
The second novel in this collection, Genevieve Undead, is really a pair of novellas. The first is a Phantom of the Opera pastiche which is enjoyable and poignant. Genevieve’s departure from her lover is particularly well handled. The second is the better of the two and finds Genevieve trapped in a eerie castle believing herself to be part of a very strange family indeed. There are some genuinely creepy moments in this nightmarish novella and the shades of Gormenghast add to the mix very nicely.
Beasts in Velvet, the third book in the omnibus, only contains Genevieve as a background character and chooses, instead, to focus on a group of city guards and the nobles of a palace. The contrast between squalor and splendour is well handled and the murder mystery at the centre of the novel works nicely. Again, the whole thing is injected with a dry wit. The only thing that did disappoint me a little about this novel was that a few of the more interesting secondary characters just seemed to disappear in the last quarter of the book.
Not to worry however, as Silver Nails, the last book here picks up some of these stories and explores further Genevieve’s character. There are many satisfying tales here and Yeovil’s writing is, as ever, excellent.
Black Library are probably one of the world’s leading publishers of gaming tie-ins and they have really come a long way. They’ve established a line of publications that they can be proud of and in The Vampire Genevieve showcase one of the finest English genre writers around in a collection that is affordable and attractive.
Black Library Publishing, £8.99. This review originally appeared in Prism.