Tomes of the Dead: The Viking Dead
Author: Toby Venables
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Price: £7.99 (Paperback)
Page count: 351pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Tomes of the Dead is a relatively new and recently established series of books from quality pulp publishers Abaddon, a sub-set of Solaris Books. As the series title suggests, this is all about The Dead, or rather, the Un-Dead a.k.a Zombies. The series has previously opened up doors for new prolific horror writers such as Gary McMahon, Simon Bestwick and 2000AD scribe Al Ewing.
The Viking Dead, the latest instalment of Tomes, released in April 2011 is the debut novel by Cambridge lecturer Toby Venables. If I were to put money on it, I would bet that Prof. Venables area of expertise is Viking history and lore. The setting, background and tone of the novel seems indelibly real.
In his novel, the author pits the draugr or Undead against a band of pillaging yet not so evil Vikings. As you would expect then, there is plenty of rip roaring adventure, tongue twisting character names, violence, battles and gruesome deaths. As is prevalent in the Abaddon novels, there is also a healthy dose of gallows humour and ironic, self aware wit.
Although there are moments that don’t quite work and the rather surreal end reveal is a bit jarring, this is a really solid debut novel, with plausible characterisations, lots of fun action and a dash of romance to boot. All in all, I look forward to seeing what Venables has to offer next. Worth the £7.99, particularly for Zombie fans looking for something with more teeth, pardon the pun!