About the Author:
Jack Yeovil is a pen-name of British writer Kim Newman.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4.3 out of 5
Beasts In Velvet
The second (chronologically) Warhammer novel to feature the vampire Genevieve. Yeovil's great talent is the way he reveals his sinister villains early on, but never gives away enough to spoil the whodunnit nature of the stories, this one in particular. The hard-edged noble Johann von Mecklenberg, the Altdor watchman Harald Kleindeinst and the scryer Rosanna Ophuls hunt for clues or witnesses to the gruesome murders committed by 'The Beast'.
The author brilliantly ups the tension of the story time and again as the city of Altdorf becomes more paranoid and more violent, boiling towards a climax that repeatedly disabuses you of what you think you've figured out.
There was only one thing that annoyed me about this book; Kleindeinst is known as Filthy Harald and carries a Magnim knife (in case I need to spell it out to you - Dirty Harry and his magnum), which seemed a bit of a cheap reference to me.
Followed by 'Genevieve Undead'.
4 out of 5
A Warhammer novel and the first of the Genevieve books, this one is also the best. In fact, it's the best book of the entire Warhammer novel franchise. The story begins with a mixed group of adventurers entering a sinister castle to face the ancient sorcerer Constant Drachenfels. Twenty five years later, one of the adventurers, a rich noble, hires the playwrite Detlef Sierck to stage a recreation of the adventure in the remains of Castle Drachenfels.
There is constant tension throughout this book, kept up by the clever way in which Yeovil introduces us to the hidden villains of the piece early on, but manages to do so without revealing who they really are. The story is by turns funny, tragic, romantic and chilling, with the author constantly finding ways to surprise you. Detlef is a very likeable and human main character and Gene is an oddly endearing mixture of fair maid and cold killer.
The twist at the end was something I figured out beforehand, but that didn't spoil its affect much. It's unfortunate that many people will pass this book over simply because of the stigma attached to the Warhammer brand.
Followed by 'Beasts in Velvet'.
5 out of 5
The third Genevieve book. Rather than a full-length novel like 'Drachenfels', this book contains three novellas that follow on chronologically from one another.
The first is by far the best as, in 'Stage Blood', we are taken into the world of Detlef Sierck and his playhouse before the opening of his new masterpiece. There is tension between the staff of the playhouse, which is increased by the mutant Trapdoor Demon and the arrival of the Animus, a relic of Constant Drachenfels' evil. The best element of the story is the way in which Detlef wrestles with the darkness within his own soul, almost becoming the monster he plays on stage.
'The Cold Stark House' wasn't a favourite of mine, as (after having watched too much TV sci-fi) I don't like things that have familiar characers acting like people they're not, with the details of how the brainwashing came about to follow. The final novella, 'Unicorn Ivory' is largely an unremarkable story about a cruel noble, but throughout it there's the inference that there is a terrible link between his wife's death and his love of the hunt, giving the story a wonderfully sinister tone.
4 out of 5
A collection of Yeovil's Warhammer short stories which feature characters such as Johann von Mecklenberg, Filthy Harald, Rosanna Ophuls, Detlef Sierck and Genevieve.
'Red Thirst', set after the first adventure in Castle Drachenfels, sees Gene and the warrior Vukotich having to foil a chaos plot to destroy the city of Zhufbar. The tension between the two main characters makes the story as they each dislike and distrust one another, but cannot deny a certain attraction. 'No Gold In The Grey Mountains' is a classic Yeovil story, in which the villain is shown throughout but not truly revealed until the very end.
I wasn't so keen on 'The Ignorant Armies', which features Johann and a much older Vukotich, because it reminded me too much of the action packed dross that makes up the large percentage of Warhammer fiction. 'The Warhawk' is another excellent whodunnit, although at times it is just a little too like 'Beasts In Velvet'.
The best offering in this little anthology is the ridiculously named 'The Ibby The Fish Factor'. It's an excellent story about social paranoia, religious dogma and institutionalised bigotry, however, the twist is that it is the living dead who are being persecuted. It's a real gem that prompts you to consider issues far removed from the gothic fantasy of the Warhammer world.
4 out of 5