Friday, 20 May 2011

"Anno Dracula" by Kim Newman

Year of Publication: 1992
Number of Pages: 546 pages
Genre: Horror, fantasy, adventure, crime, alternate history

Summary: London, 1888: Queen Victoria has remarried, and her new husband is the infamous Wallachian prince known as Count Dracula. Now with Dracula at the throne of Britain, the vampire race have come out of hiding and increasing numbers of "warm" (living) citizens have become vampires, and frequently not by choice. Under Dracula's rule, the living increasingly become an underclass, and any hint of insurrection is punishable by imprisonment in brutal prison camps or by summary execution by impalement on wooden stakes.
In the notorious Whitechapel area of London, a brutal killer known as "Silver Knife" has been savagely slaughtering young vampire women. Charles Beauregard, a secret agent for the mysterious Diogenes Club, is ordered to track down the killer. Aiding him is the beautiful 400 year old vampire Genevieve Dieudonne.
As tensions in the city threaten to explode, the body count increases as the press give the murderer a new name: Jack the Ripper.

Opinions: Have you ever finished a book or a film and wondered what would happen if things had turned out differently in the end, if the heroes lost and the villains won? The background of this book is what would happen if Dracula not only survived the events of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, but triumphed and fulfilled his evil scheme.
As with the later League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic and subsequent film, the book collects characters from the full range of Victorian horror and adventure stories, such as Henry Jekyll (from Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Doctor Moreau (from H. G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau) and Professor Moriarty (from the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories) among many others, as well as real characters and events (such as Oscar Wilde, Joseph Merrick and the Jack the Ripper murders) and characters from numerous vampire books and films (including references to more modern authors such as Stephen King and Anne Rice).
The book is fast paced and hugely entertaining mixing action, gothic horror and political intrigue with dashes of romance. Newman manages to blend numerous characters, references and events into a coherent whole, while also exploring the kind of society which Dracula has created. Newman writes well and his prose is full of wit and vivid, detailed descriptions.
This book is perfect for enjoyable, gruesome entertainment and will provide plenty of fun for vampire fans. It has been followed by three sequels to date.
The novel has recently been republished in paperback with annotations, afterwords, an essay, selections from an unfilmed movie adaptation and a short story.

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