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Anno Dracula

Anno Dracula

Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
# of Pages: 

Anno Dracula is the first in a series of books written by Kim Newman: Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron, Dracula Cha Cha Cha (or Judgment of Tears), Johnny Alucard.

Anno Dracula, a novel by Kim Newman, continues the tale of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  It’s late 19th century London, Dracula has seduced and married Queen Victoria and is now the Prince Consort.  A few years into Dracula’s reign, vampires now live along side “warms”.  Londoners from all levels of society have become vampires, from the Queen herself all the way down to prostitutes walking the streets.  As Dracula tightens his grip on the throne and increases his power over England, many in London society and government find it to their advantage to accept the “Dark Kiss”.   

Yet all is not well in London.  There are tensions between the vampires and the “warms”.  Many of the elder vampires look upon the new-borns with scorn.  For poor Londoners, becoming a vampire has proven no better than being human. They still live in poverty- hungry, diseased and penniless.  In fact, many new-borns don’t make it past the first few years as un-dead.  Many go mad or become sick.

It’s in this world the story takes place.  A new horror has entered London, Jack the Ripper.  He is killing vampire prostitutes in a most horrific way.  The police, desperate to catch the killer, ask the help of a vampire elder, Genevieve Dieudonne.  She is a 16 year-old 15th century vampire who works with the people in Whitechapel where the murders are taking place.  The Queen also wants this murderer caught, so through a secret order, Charles Beauregard is called to service.  He is a “warm” in his middle thirties who belongs to the Diogenes Club, an organization whose members, in service of the Queen, perform top secret, unofficial political missions around the world.  Together, Genevieve and Charles work to find the murderer.

This book has a relatively simple storyline but is told in such a way that it becomes more complex than necessary.  The book has a large cast of characters, most of whom seem unnecessary, and takes most of its 425 pages to set the story up.  The story doesn’t come together until the last quarter of the book, and even then it feels as if the story has scarcely finished being setup and the real story is just about to begin.

This book seems to be missing any real purpose.  The book isn’t a who-done-it type mystery because the reader knows who Jack the Ripper is from the very first chapter.  The book isn’t a love story either, although the two main characters do have an attraction to one another.  It doesn’t let the reader discover the story as the characters do because it jumps from point-of-view to point-of-view giving the reader more information than any one character has. It can’t claim to be a horror novel since it is tame by vampire novel standards.  In truth, this book isn’t even a vampire novel.  The vampires are not the seductive yet dangerous vampires created by Anne Rice or even the monsters portrayed by Bram Stoker.  They are nothing more than humans endowed with long life but retaining all their human flaws and none of the vampire’s allure.  So what is this story?  At best, it’s a political and social commentary disguised as a weak vampire novel with only glimpses of great “vampire” writing.

With that said, Newman has created an interesting alternative world for vampires to exist.  There are times when he touches on the ideas that make a vampire novel great: regret, atonement, love vs. lust, and evil.  Unfortunately Newman shows only a brief glimpse into the vampire world before returning to the mundane “human” world.

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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