I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Warhammer Horror book The Deacon of Wounds by David Annadale published by Black Library, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first, I am also friends with David on Facebook, but I suspect that’s more about him connecting with fans rather than being a big fan of mine!

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Warhammer Horror

Warhameer Horror is a new imprint from the publishers of Warhammer fiction, Black Library, which allows authors to publish the more horrific stories set in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 settings. And lets face it these universes are pretty grimdark and teeming with horror and all sorts of nasty and gribbly things.

The Story

This story is set in the Warhammer 40,000 uiniverse, and is about the world of Theotokos, which is a dying planet, ravaged by drought and now faces a terrible plague, called the Grey Tears.

The only man who seems capable of saving this planet is the Arch-Deacon Ambrose, a charasmatic priest of the Adeptus Ministorium who genuinely cares for his world and wants to make the lives of its people better, unlike the worlds ruling Cardinal Lopez who only cares for personal enrichment.

But when Lopez suddenly dies, Ambrose is thrust into the role of leading the planet, but the choices he makes leads him down a dark path.

Lets start out by saying that this story requires you to have a good gag reflex, as there is a lot of nasty and disgusting body horror, it is after all about a plague. And coming out now in the middle of a global pandemic, you do recognise the panic and fear in the cities inhabitants.

And we get a good look at the Ecclesiarchy, which we really haven’t had like this in quite some time, as a big fan of the Sisters of Battle, I feel like I now have a better idea of how the priest that accompany them work.

Conclusion

This book really tells the story of the rise of Ambrose to the highest office on the planet, and his, and subsequently planets fall from grace. Despite being a relatively short story, is one that is very well handled and works well with Davids writing style.

Ambrose journey from a caring and approachable person to someone so very different, happens in a relatively short period, but it happens in such an incremental way that it feels so very natural.

But I am gonna be honest here, the book has an issue that another reviewer on Goodreads, Jenn, summed up very nicely, we have little grasp of the characters other than Ambrose. We seem to have some amazing supporting characters, but none of them are developed well at all. I think if you added another couple of chapters, it would have elevated the book up quite a bit.

A bit of development of the romantic subplot would have gone a long way, the lass he loves simply can’t be that oblivious to his amorous feelings. and as Jenn said, given is importance to the motivations of Ambrose it felt poorly executed.

The horror is disgusting and very revolting, and at points made me physically gag when reading the book, and the conclusion whilst slightly obvious was handled very well, and still was shocking in the way it happened.

Rating this book is difficult for me, I want to give it a 4, but I am varying between 3.5 and 4.5 because I am just unsure how to rate it given the shortcomings.

Its not a bad book at all though and was very enjoyable, its skin-crawlingly good and I think its biggest weakness is just its slightly too short and compromises were made.

So with that in mind, I recommend this book, its deep on lore and an insight to the workings and politics of the Ecclesiarchy as well as a creepy and horrific tale of a planets doom.

The Deacon of Wounds is out now as a hardback, eBook, MP3 audiobook.