Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Genre: fantasy/ alternate history
Pages: 547 (paperback)
Published: first published 1992; republished 2011 by Titan
Recommended for: fans of steampunk and those familiar with the original Dracula

It is 1888; Dracula has married Queen Victoria and turned a large percentage of the population into the undead.

Following vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and explorer Charles Beauregard on the trail of the Ripper murders, this panoramic novel of altered history brilliantly reinvents the world of late Victorian melodrama.
Familiar and sinister figures from literature and history emerge from the fog, along with some shocking truths.

My Take: 
So... I'm kind of a Dracula fanatic.  As a kid who didn't typically like those "classic" books, Dracula was one I fell in love with at a young age.  Bram Stoker's tale is spectacularly chilling, and there really is no book which can quite compare to it.  Anno Dracula had been on my to-read list for years, but it was out of print until recently.  I rejoice, as all fans of horror, steampunk, fantasy, and vampires should, that it is back and emblazoned with this sweet newsprint cover!  

Until recently, I was positive that The Historian by Elizabeth Kostava was the last word in Dracula 'fanfiction' novels.  This book rather blew The Historian out of the water, though, as far as the fun factor goes.  This novel is a long one, but it is far from slow and literary.  Anno Dracula is a caper of Jack the Ripper, set in an alternate past where Dracula escaped the stakes of Van Helsing and his associates to marry Queen Victoria and become prince and overlord of all England.  He and his force of undead loyalists have transformed half of London into vampires, creating a diseased, mad bloodline of newborn vampires.  Dracula himself does not make an appearance until the book's grand, long-awaited finale, but when he does... Wow, has Newman written a heck of a Dracula!  

The story is fast-paced with short cliff-hangers of chapters, and this London is one where famous figures of history and literature run amok (and undead) over the pages.  I particularly loved the Jekyll and Hyde references.  Perhaps the best part is that, though our hero and heroine spend the book searching for the Ripper in between dodging malevolent vamps and unsavory fiances, we the readers know exactly who the Ripper is and we get an insider's perspective as to his righteous motives... and madness.  Genevieve, an ancient, yet youthful-in-appearance vampire of a line older than even Dracula's, is a fantastic heroine-- definitely my favorite character. 

 There is a fair amount of gore in the book, I guess, but none of it is very bothersome unless you're just really not into that sort of thing.  Overall, I thought Anno Dracula was a fantastic read: brilliant, hilarious, bloody, oddly historical, and utterly engaging.  Just make sure you know the basic story of the original Dracula first.  This is a book I most certainly will be rereading within a year, no matter how my tbr pile threatens to topple over.  

Overall Rating: 5/5    


Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really need to read Dracula, but this book sounds amazing. It sounds familiar...I believe I've seen it mentioned somewhere else, but what a great review. I def. need to read this one now!


Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

No gore for me please, LOL I have a hard time consuming that.

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