Anno Dracula by Kim Newman – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the awesome Anno Dracula, written by Kim Newman and published by Titan Books.
“An awesome look into a Britain that could have been. Fun, brutal, page-turning and highly enjoyable – Anno Dracula is a must read for anyone who loves alternate history with vampires. This is one novel that you won’t want to miss.” ~The Founding Fields
I don’t know why it took me too long to read Anno Dracula. I’d heard about it for a while, but I finally picked it up with a couple of other books at the beginning of May that if you’ll have read their reviews then you’ll know which books I mean. (Or alternatively you can find the reviews here for The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell and Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn.) And I found both books to be fantastic. They’re some of my favourite books that I’ve read this year, both of them for different reasons. So I was wondering, if Anno Dracula would be able to live up to the high standards which the previous two books set, plus with the added addition of the mind-blowing Watchmen comic, it was always going to be a tough task. However, never fear – Anno Dracula not only matched my expectations but exceeded them. It was a fantastic novel, and I was enthralled right from the get go. Published by Titan Books, who are also responsible for their Star Wars: The Old Republic series by various authors such as Paul S. Kemp and Sean Williams, Newman’s novel is one that you should really enjoy.
England 1888. After defeating Helsing and his friends, Count Dracula dominates the United Kingdom. The vampire king is married to Queen Victoria, transforming it into an undead, nosferatu and rage. The streets of London at night are beaten by gangs of vampires on the prowl and Neil lamplight, prostitutes-vampire lure customers in exchange for a pint of blood. In the shadows of this metropolis is around a cold-blooded murderer who kills young women are not only dying, and calling himself Jack the Ripper … Charles Beauregard, special agent employed by the mysterious Diogenes Club, and Geneviève Dieudonné, vampire kind of a race that is in contrast to that of the Count of Transylvania, join forces to hunt down the perpetrator of these heinous crimes, which threaten to subvert the ‘social order giving rise to a surprising world, where the live and undead co-exist and the law of Dracula has supplanted the rules of civilization.
This is a novel that every vampire fan should read. Well, except those who like Twilight, but there are no vampires of the sparkly kind in Anno Dracula, oh no. If a Twilight fan, or someone who has never read a vampire novel before reads Anno Dracula, they’ll get an awakening that shows just how brutal, dark and mind-blowingly good that vampire fiction can be. It’s a wonderful toure-de-force, and the only reason why it took me so long to finish it was because I was in the middle of my AS Level (not sure what the US version is), exams at the time, so it was not the book’s fault. However, it’s a pretty big one, regardless.
I should add that I haven’t read anything by Kim Newman before, including his reviews that he writes for Empire Magazine, but if this is anything to go by then his other work should be fantastic. At the core of this novel, no matter how complex it initially sounds, the main premise is that Dracula survived his defeat at the end of Bram Stoker’s novel, and fictional characters such as Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle) are real in this novel, although they don’t get as much appearance – for the main attention is focused on Charles Beauregard – part of the Diogenes Club, which also features in Sherlock Holmes, and several other characters invented by Newman. Charles Beauregard is a fascinating character, likable enough to root for and one that you’ll wand to read more of.
The pace is fast, and even throughout the novel, which is dark, damp and brutal. Van Helsing is dead, Dracula rules and things look bad for the future of humanity, especially with vampires spreading throughout Britain, and when the Queen is married to Dracula himself, there’s nothing much that you can do. The novel is full of twists and turns, including an ending which you won’t see coming. Newman has created a novel with little flaws (although it is not for the faint-hearted), and one that deserves more attention than it gets. More plot-driven than character driven, Anno Dracula nonetheless allows for character development, and understands what makes vampires vampires.
Although the ending came about too quickly for my liking, Anno Dracula was certainly a wonderful read, and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to give a copy of this book to the next Twilight fan that I come across and see their reaction. This is how Vampires should be written. In 1888. With Dracula, and Jack the Ripper. As far as I’m concerned, Anno Dracula is essential for any fans of Vampire fiction, and really enjoyable.
Not to be missed.
Anno Dracula Series by Kim Newman: Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron, Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959.
More by Kim Newman: Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Ubervilles, The Man from the Diogenes Club, The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, The Night Mayor, Jago, The Quorum.