Title: The Reverie
Author: Peter Fehervari
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 1st Nov 2020
Genre: Warhammer Horror
Exalting war and art in harmony, the warrior-artisans of the Angels Resplendent have forged a radiant haven amidst a blighted galaxy. But an ancient sin stains their honour – a wound in their world that will never heal. Ignorant souls would call it a forest, but those who watch over it know better.
Nothing natural grows in the Reverie’s snow-swept glades or wanders amongst the unnatural things that do, save for the intruders who trespass on its pain. Some seek revelation or redemption, others dream of winning a place amongst the Resplendent, but all come because they must.
Three travellers are drawn into the conspiracy that wards the wound – a knight haunted by his lost humanity, an aging poet who refuses to go gently into the night, and a scholar who yearns to redeem mankind. All must face their shadows in the Reverie, but only one shall gaze upon its heart, where a deeper darkness beats.
I was approved to read a copy of The Reverie via NetGalley in return for an honest review, my thanks to Black Library for the approval.
The Reverie is my first dip into the Warhammer Horror series of novels; a set-apart series from the usual offering from Black Library that has piqued my curiosity since getting my first newsletter from the publishers when announced Invocations.
I am fresh of the press with reading The Reverie and I am not quite sure what to make of it, it’s left me reeling and I am rather enjoying the feeling! It’s refreshing to have a book that challenges me as a reader. Part way through reading The Reverie I threw the Warhammer 40K knowledge I had out the window and found myself enjoying the book for what it was, rather than for what I thought I knew!
The Space Marine Chapter that The Reverie focus’ on are the Angels Resplendent. A successor chapter of the more well-known Blood Angels, that blend art and war in equal measure. As someone decently well-versed in Warhammer 40K, this Chapter is completely different to the usual offerings when it comes to Space Marines. From their core beliefs to the way their Chapter is organised; their difference makes them the perfect candidates for a Warhammer Horror novel.
The plot for The Reverie is intricately woven and complicated. Usually, Warhammer 40K novels are joyous, entertainment. The Reverie goes beyond surface level into a deeper thought process. It’s a complex read and at times felt a bit heavy-going, but the complexities are worth investigating and the philosophical elements help the reader to delve deeper into the intricacies of the Angels Resplendent and their unconventional ways. Throughout The Reverie are references to music, adding to the perfect blend of art and war that the Angels Resplendent adhere too.
The Reverie starts off in a classical horror way, with a feeling right out of the classic fairy-tales. A boy and the remainder of his village are being hunted by… something. However, The Reverie doesn’t remain in this genre of horror beyond the first ‘movement’ (act). Turning towards a more gothic-horror aesthetic throughout the book and embracing elements of psychological, existential and body horror.
As one would expect from a Horror novel, the characters are complex and often mysterious. The Reverie isn’t your run-of-the-mill action fest that Warhammer Novels often are and it holds a complexity that I am still trying to digest. The language used to refer to central characters ‘The Traveller,’ ‘the boy,’ helps to add to their over-arching mystery.
The main focus is through the eyes of newly appointed Knight Examplar (Company Captain) Varzival Czervantes and his artistic Muse (Human poet and spiritual companion) Marisol. These characters are unconventional in their own ways and are presented are outsiders in their own roles. Czervantes isn’t accepted by his Battle-Brothers as the Captain of his company, Marisol an outsider among her own peers. They are interesting and engaging characters that offer valuable insight into the problems they discover upon arrival to Malpertuis, the Angels Resplendents home-world. Through them, we are shown that the capital city, Kanvolis, isn’t the artistic, utopia that they believe it to be but somewhere besieged by something much more sinister; the titular Reverie. Also among the pivotal characters are Tarsem, a mortal who has travelled to Malpertuis to seek audience with the Angels Resplendent. What I found particularly striking about these central characters is they all have their fair share of troubles. None of them are free from lingering doubts for their actions, it makes their flaws believable and their personalities are enhanced by them.
Peter Fehervari has been given a near blank slate with the Angels Resplendent, who have appeared mainly in rule books as a colour-scheme, and given them a life and purpose of their own. I found their deviation from the standard mould of Space Marines as captivating as the horrors they uncover in their home-world and their approachs to dealing with them.
To add a further complexity to the already intricately woven plot there is an element of time-travel that requires the reader to put a bit more thought into their engagement with The Reverie. While the book is most certainly complex in it’s undertaking there is also an ease to it. The writing style flows through broken narrative with an effortlessness that helps the reader understand what’s happening; it doesn’t leave you in the dark.
For the standard Warhammer 40K reader, The Reverie, might not tick the usual boxes. It’s low on action, the brief scenes of combat are unarguably well crafted, and higher on elements of fantasy and drama. I have mentioned in reviews of other Black Library publications that I am a great fan of when philosophy enters the narrative and The Reverie has tough debates of the spirit and soul at it’s very core, maybe this is why the book resonated with me so highly, that and the grizzly descriptions of the more depraved scenes one would typically expect from a horror novel were delightfully disgusting in their own right.
This was my first encounter with Peter Fehervari as an author and I am hoping it won’t be my last as he is clearly, very talented.
I wasn’t entirely sure how Warhammer Horror would work considering a lot of the Warhammer setting is horrific as it is. But The Reverie cleared up all my preconceptions pretty quickly. It is a complicated, mature book that requires the reader to think about the plot and relationships between all the characters. A solid exploration of an unconventional Space Marine chapter that might leave usual readers of the Warhammer 40K genre somewhat wanting in terms of action.