Fantasy Book Review #1: Drachenfels by Kim Newman

Welcome to the first fantasy book review of this blog!

Drachenfels by Kim Newman - also known by his psuedonym Jack Yeovil - is a Warhammer Fantasy novel written in 1989 and is now publilshed under, and considered part of, the Warhammer Horror genre. 

The story follows a group of adventurers, led by Crown Prince Oswald, and the intriguing vampire, Genevieve, as they travel to the home of the sinister Drachenfels in a quest to defeat him. This novel has a wide range of fully developed characters with an intricate narrative and clear French-Germanic influences. 

What I liked about Drachenfels

  1. Although the characters in this novel started out as borderline stereotypes, or cardboard cut-outs of typical adventure quest characters, they soon grew into 3D and interesting individuals - even the more secondary and tertiary characters became well rounded!
  2. Consistently vivid descriptions and details really brought the story alive and had me reacting in all the right ways at the right times.
  3. Throughout Drachenfels every detail and every event had a purpose and, by the end of the story, every reason was realised and I was left with no unanswered questions which was satisfying as a reader.
  4. The ideology and mythology of vampires in this novel really felt like a refreshing twist on the traditional take.
  5. I often found myself surprised or caught off guard by the different turns and twists in the narrative. This impressed me as, after studying creative writing at university for 4 years, I often find that I can predict (or at least have a good idea of) what is going to happen in a story and it was nice to find myself proven wrong many times while reading this book.
  6. Throughout Drachenfels there was very much a sense of nostalgia for me as the story heralded back to the heroic adventure/quest fantasy novels that I loved as a child growing up as well as an adult now.
  7. What I liked the best about this novel though is that, despite the fact it is a Warhammer Fantasy/Horror story, you do not need to be a Warhammer fan or, like myself, even know anything at all about the world this tale takes place in to understand and enjoy the narrative. The universality of this book is, to me, a clear sign of fantastic writing on the author's behalf.

What I didn't like about Drachenfels

  1. The amount of characters involved in the story did, at times, make the narrative a little difficult to completely follow in terms of what was happening but this wasn't a constant issue.
  2. What I liked the least about this novel was the fact that there were moments when the writing became a little too convoluted or used a phrase that would catch me out. I would then have to re-read the passage several times to figure out what the author had been trying to say. This, to me, was an issue as it took me out of the immersion of the story. 
My biggest example of this was when the author referred to blood - during an intimate moment between the lead vampire, Genevieve, and another character - as 'warm and salty'. I have never before heard, or read, of blood being described as salty and it was obvious the author had chosen this phrase to allude to the sexulity that is often associated with vampires when feeding.

Would I recommend this book and final thoughts on Drachenfels

Yes, I would recommend this novel as it was, overall, a really enjoyble read and a wonderful addition to the fantasy genre. There are two more books from this author that center around the character of Genevieve that I will purchase and read in the future.

If you have read this book before, or choose to do so following this review, please comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!


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