Friday, 27 December 2013

12) - Genevieve Undead

After a brief cameo in Beast of Velvet Jack Yeovil's (Kim Newman) heroine the vampire Genevieve returns in Genevieve Undead.  It is a collection of three different tales collected into the one novel.  Going by the fact that Kim Newman is easily scoring the highest in this blog I again have high hopes for this one.  Shockingly I have the reissue and not the original and its the one at the top.  So its Genevieve perched on a gargoyle half covered in blood.  She does not look like she is sixteen to me in this one.

The original boxtree cover is this one -

Nope still not looking like her.
This looks like the scene from Red Thirst where she escapes with the mercenary Vukotich the Iron Man, where they jump down from the tree to kill their pursuers which is a strange choice going by how this tale is not part of Genevieve Undead.  Now finally as i wont get a chance to put it anywhere else here is the omnibus version of the tales of Genevieve.

Nailed it! 
Yep this is by far the best cover they manage for Genevieve.  It actually looks like how Newman describes her in the novels.  Right lets get going.  As always -

Spoiler Missile Strike Imminent -

We start with part one which is entitled Stage Blood. The Vargr Breughel playhouse is the location of this tale and we join it on opening night of the Strange History of Dr Zhiekhill and Mr Chaida which is a clear piss take of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  Interestingly we start from the viewpoint of the trapdoor daemon.  This daemon is meant to be a myth but apparently does exist, sounds like a mutant.  We get brief highlights of the play which is as you would expect, Detlef Sierck is once again the writer and hero of the piece and it seems to go down well.

Meanwhile in the now ruins of Castle Drachenfels a sentient artifact awaits, its a mask and its called the animus.

Drachenfels was well ahead of his time.
Well its early warhammer novels so its time for the first sex scene of the novel.  Its pretty early on so i can imagine its not going to be the only one.  Its between Genevieve and Detlef for those still keeping count.  Back at the castle site there is an excavation going on by some priest of law.  The leader Scheydt finds the mask and guess what?  Of course finding an artifact in the dread enchanters domain the first thing you do is of course put the thing on....idiot.

We get a subplot between Illona Horvathy who is the leading lady of the playhouse but now aging and the much younger Eva Savinien who is set to replace her.  It appears Eva is getting help from the trapdoor daemon who talks to her from a hidden area behind her changing room.  In an entertaining moment the priest of law is acting like a jerk with his new animus mask.  He even pisses all over his alter, what a lad!  The animus pushes him hard, killing horses by exhaustion in order to get to Altdorf as soon as possible in order to avenge its master by killing Genevieve and Detlef.  Meanwhile tensions start to rise among the acters as young Eva continues to steal the show.

The Animus makes it to Altdorf but is refused entry.  It is here we get to see its power as it uses brute force to rip through the guards.  The body sustains terrible wounds but the animus keeps it moving like a puppet and it gets into the city.  A petition to stop the play arrives and Detlef loses his cool and starts to strangle the guy, hinting that the role of Mr Chaida is starting to become more than just a role.

Maybe Detlef played this game on the NES, enough to make anyone go mad.
 Eva meanwhile decides she wants to see the mysterious trapdoor daemon who is helping her and smashes her mirror with a vase.  She ends up seeing him and runs out of the theater screaming.

He is a squid mutant!  Although for copyright reasons not this squid mutant.
As she flees she bumps into what is left of the Animus and as it pulls her close it transfers onto her face instead.  Genevieve decides to go into the network of hidden tunnels in the theater in order to find the trapdoor daemon as she does not sense any evil and instead wants to help.  She finds clues that hint that he is the old play write Bruno Malvoisin.  I guess that would explain his fascination with the theater productions.

I was right there is room for another sexual encounter.  Eva and the Animus seduce Reinhardt Jessner who is another actor who wants to replace Detlef as the leading man and also husband to Eva's rival Illona.  For a change we get it described as a more loving union, but Eva is only doing it to have a political hold over him.  I think Kim Newman has had his heart broken by such a lady in the past.....We get an interesting twist where it is debatable whether its the Animus using Eva or is it Eva using the Animus.

The trapdoor daemon is reflecting on his life and we discover he is indeed the old play write and his mistress had been seduced by chaos and had laced his food with warpstone.  Bitch!

I get the feeling Kim Newman does not like women very much.

As Genevieve continues her search through the tunnels she come out in one of the royal boxes and sees Detlef on stage rehearsing with Eva, at least thats what she thinks.

The Animus using Eva wants Detlef to hurt her during their lovemaking.  The purpose is to bring out the darkness within Detlef himself.  Its a brutal scene and as to be expected from Newman he does not sugar coat it at all.  Finally Detlef resists and pulls away, much to the delight of his girlfriend Genevieve who was watching it all unfold.  Yeah not sure how many girls would see it that way.

The trapdoor daemon appears next to Genevieve but he is no threat and they understand each other.  However Reinhardt appears wanting to break it off with Eva and instead the Animus passes to him.  Now i should mention Reinhardt is a muscle-bound adonis so it looks like he will be very difficult to stop. 

Genevieve swings down from the rafters but even with her vampire strength, her and Detlef are no match for the Animus.  They are saved by the squid monster that is the trapdoor daemon!  Of course though when people pile in to help they think the mutant is the monster and go after him instead.  The Animus chases Detlef and Genevieve into the catacombs, surviving pistol shots, crossbow bolts and being set on fire.  They are only saved when the Animus decides to move to the trapdoor daemon, but instead of finding evil it can manipulate at its core it finds good there instead and both of them die.

Its quite a sad ending though as Genevieve decides to leave Detlef as she blames herself for his darker thinking and thinks he will be better without her.  Queue much tears.

That is part one done and it was excellent.  A tale of the darker side of human nature and i enjoyed the mutant being a good guy for a change.  Again though some parts are a bit too brutal but none of it is done without serving a purpose.  Part two is next and is entitled The Cold Stark House.

Ok i do not know where to start.  We seem to be in a storm lashed haunted house where Genevieve does not know she is a vampire and surrounded by a strange cast of immortal characters whom she thinks are her enemies as they all fight to get into an old mans will......

I don't know...i really don't!
One of the failed revolutionists from Beast in Velvet, Prince Kloszowski is escaping from jail under a pile of corpses, sounds fun.  He completes his escape and goes off into the night, looking for shelter from the intense storm.  He finds an upturned carriage where two nobles are sheltering.  There is a house nearby and make a break for it, of course its the same house Genevieve is currently in.  Oh and there is a strange blue light with a face in it next to the carriage, yeah i don't know either.

A blue light you say????
We then get a really strange dinner scene with Genevieve's new family.  Its like something out of the Adams family to be honest and i am struggling to follow all the new characters. Kloszowski arrive and there is some tension as they are invited to stay the night.  Genevieve has some dreams of past adventures and it is now clear she has been bewitched in some way and has forgotten who she is and that she is even a vampire.  Well i wish i knew that a few chapters ago.

Now we get the viewpoint of the young dancer who was in the carriage, Antonia, and she has been in plays by Brithan Cragg like The Plague Daemon and Doom of Zaragoz.  Nice shout out to Brian Craig there and another example of Newman tying all the warhammer books together.  He also mentions a play about Konrad to further enforce it.  At least Antonia realises how cliche the whole setup is.  During the meal one of the men starts to choke and then his stomach starts to expand and explodes outward in a gruesome death. 

Perspective changes again to Mathilda who is held captive in a room.  Apparently with a mutation that has made her head massive and too heavy to lift.  But we start to see whats going on.  Mathilda knows she is a prisoner and has weights tied to her head so she cant move it.  She struggles to remember her real name and life but knows she had come to the house to shelter from a storm and that she must escape.  Kloszowski gets taken to a guest room where he is attacked by something coming out of a mirror.....

Next though he is making love to Antonia so it was her that came through, she had found it was a secret passage.  A series of weird events take place next and they all feature a blue light so i suspect its to do with the blue face from earlier.  One of the family plans to kill the doctor that keeps the old patriarch of the family alive so he will also die and she can get the family fortune, only to discover someone has beaten her to it. 

Antonia and Kloszowski find they are locked in so make there way into the network of secret passageways in a bid for freedom.

Kim Newman must have been playing this when he wrote this part.

They are trapped in a room with a descending ceiling but survive as without explanation it stops and reverts back to normal.  It seems nobody can die in this house as the man whose stomach exploded is back up and about again.  I can see this being someones dream....

Genevieve finds someone bleeding to death and her instinct takes over and  she feeds, breaking the spell.  She knows now these people are nothing to do with her and its a cunning trap.

Admiral Ackbar knew!
 So it all descends into madness and chaos and a fire starts and everyone burns to death but not before Genevieve and Antonia pull Kloszowski out of the house and break the spells hold on them.  So it turns out the old man has traded part of his soul in return for the power never to be bored and he plays out these melodramas every single night.  As the they watch the burning house starts to rebuild itself.....

Thats the Cold Stark House finished and it was very interesting but was overloaded with far too many characters to actually follow what was going on.  I think if it was expanded into a full blown novel of its own it could work better.  Slightly worried that Genevieve has been only a minor character in the first two parts.  Part three is called Unicorn Ivory.

Genevieve is in the hunting party of Graf Rudiger von Unheimlich as they hunt some unicorns.  We learn she is there because the Emperor's chancellor has bribed her to kill the Graf or he will make life for Detlef and the playhouse very difficult.  The Graf is painted as an arse as his son Doremus constantly tries and fails to impress him.  Also he hunts unicorns for fun.  Interesting now Genevieve is stuck, either helping the evil chancellor or letting the evil Graf Rudiger live.

Otto from the league of Karl Franz is there.  He was an outsider for being the Beast in Beasts in Velvet.  He will be leaving his position as the leagues leader soon and the Graf want him to appoint his son Doremus as his successor.  Otto is far more interested in the Grafs mistress and we get the line - "It was a week since his last harlot, and his balls were bursting."   Wow, what is wrong with these people!

I don't get it?
 The Graf announces he will be hunting a unicorn mare the next day, the most dangerous animal to hunt apparently.  However he spots Otto and his mistress at it outside while he is on the balcony.  The Graf funnily enough is incensed and says he will hunt them.  The two have to flee into the night and if they survive till dawn they can go free.

We follow the flight from the eyes of Otto who is a quite fat and drunk.  He basically smashes his way through the forest and eventually gives up.  He has an encounter with the mare unicorn who laughs at him before the hunting dogs pounce on him.  Graf Jr Doremus pulls the dogs off him and he is allowed to go home.  They find the mistress up a tree trying to cross a gorge and she is shot down by the Graf into the waterfall below.  At the same time the unicorn mare appears and attacks the Graf's friend Magnus.  Before he loses consciousness he tries to tell Doremus something but cant.  I am guessing he is Doremus's real father then.

They take the wounded Magnus back to the lodge and he will live as the others go to hunt the unicorn.  Turns out the Graf though is using his old friend as bait.  The unicorn goes back and finishes off the job.

Evil Murderer Beast!
The Unicorn has made a right mess, spilling peoples guts out everywhere.  Magnus is now very dead and the Graf goes back into the woods immediately.  Just as the have the unicorn the ground subsides into an old dwarf tunnel and they come up behind a waterfall.  There the dying mistress is found but she appears to be becoming a plant....yep its something to do with the properties of the water being magic.  She tells Doremus that the Graf killed his mother and Genevieve tells him the Graf killed his father.  Saw that coming a mile away.

Not the Graf.
Yep it was not the unicorn that killed Magnus, it was the Graf, he had killed him with a unicorn horn from a previous hunt.  Of course its silvered so Genevieve is in trouble.  They tumble into the water and a scuffle ensues.  Genevieve of course wins and kills the Graf.  The unicorn appears and lets her snap its neck.  No idea why, apparently it was very old and wanted an end to its life.  She gives the horn to Doremus who throws it into the river.

And that's an end to Unicorn Ivory.  It was a nice little tale but i could see the twist about the father/son coming but i didn't think the Graf would kill him.  Again its well written but not much Genevieve. 

Also with that we have finished Genevieve Undead.  I was going to rate each story separate but they are meant to link a bit together so will class it as one novel.  Part one is the best part, the tale of the trapdoor daemon and the human psyche was very well delivered.  Part two was a bit hit and miss.  It is a good story but its a bit rushed and far too much going on for the length it was given.  Finally part three was a nice little entertaining short story.  My main issue though is that in all of them Genevieve is only a bit part of the story.  I don't mind that per say, its just in a book called Genevieve Undead you would expect more erm... Genevieve!  Still though Newman's writing is a level above the other authors.

Rating - 8/10

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