Vampires, London, a celebrity cast, what’s not to like? Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

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Review written by Caroline Goldsmith

First published in 1992, Anno Dracula was reissued by Titan Books last year and not before time. Written by horror guru, Kim Newman this book is the ultimate love letter to the gothic novel. If there is a more knowledgeable expert on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the vampire genre in general than Newman, then I will be surprised. Newman gives us a dark and comedic romp through nineteenth century London on the premise that rather than being defeated, the lord of darkness, Count Dracula has not just survived the encounter in Stoker’s novel, but has slashed his way into the upper echelons of the British royal family. London is overrun with the undead and their growing army of newborns and a familiar dark figure is murdering vampire prostitutes in Whitechapel.

We meet our brooding hero Charles Beauregard, assigned by the mysterious Diogenes Club to ascertain the identity of Jack the Ripper. He is assisted by Genevieve Dieudonne an vampire older than Dracula himself but trapped in the eternal body of a young woman. Together our unlikely pairing navigate the changing landscape of Dracula’s London and uncover the truth about the infamous Whitechapel murders.

Newman has said that this is truly a “vampiric novel” in that it takes the best of fact and fiction making each chapter part of a true “who’s who” of Victorian society and literature. From history we encounter a newly undead Oscar Wilde, Beatrix Potter, Florence Stoker, Alfred Tennyson and of course Queen Victoria and a borrowed cast of fictional characters including Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, Count Orlok from the film Nosferatu, Doctor Moreau, Doctor Jekyll and many more. In fact, so full of genre cross references is the novel that Newman himself has confessed to having checked Wikipedia for the full list (which incidentally is not complete). Anno Dracula is written with wit and brilliance, and is a novel that reminds us why the vampire genre continues to fascinate and enthral today.

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