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Book Review

Book Cover

Anno Dracula


Author: Kim Newman
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $14.95, Cdn $16.95
ISBN: 978 0 85768 083 9
Available 27 May 2011

London in the autumn of 1888 is a city living in terror. Following the successful one man invasion of Dracula and his ascension to the throne, alongside Queen Victoria, many British people have chosen to take the ‘dark kiss’ and become vampires themselves. But not all of London society is happy with this outcome. Many dissenting voices have already been rounded up and placed into concentration camps, but the authorities have failed to catch every dissenter and now one of them is systematically working his way through the vampire whores of the east end, cutting their throats, disembowelling and beheading them. To face this new crisis two people from opposite sides of the conflict must join together to catch Jack the Ripper...

Anno Dracula (1992) is a reprint of Kim Newman’s alternative history horror novel. For those who missed this elegantly written book the first time around, the new addition comes with a number of extras. The book represents the first of a series of novels exploring his alternative history. The first is set three years after the event of Bram Stoker's Dracula; Newman cheekily includes Stoker as one of the characters.

The structure of the book holds little that is unusual as Newman takes two differing and often competing characters (one vampire, Genevieve Dieudonne and one human, the dashing Charles Beauregard) and uses their investigation to explore both the altered London as well as relationships between humans and vampires.

Newman mixes both real and fictional characters from this era; though some are only mentioned in passing the main characters also encounter people from famous, and sometimes more obscure, contemporary novels.

Newman’s mercurial thought processes pervade the novel as it covers not just a travelogue of his new London but interweaves politics, romance and a murder mystery seamlessly together to make a very entertaining whole. Part of the fun of the book lies, like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in trying to work out which characters are fictional, which real and which are the products of Newman’s fertile imagination.

Not only has Newman spent a great deal of time in the construction of his world, but more impressively has caught the nuances of the language of the time as well as the social graces. There is a plethora of characters, but even so Newman has a deft way of sketching enough of their traits to allow the audience to engage with them.

His great attention to both plot and historical detail should please fans of both, intelligent, Vampire stories as well as fans of alternative histories.


Charles Packer

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