Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Best Book I've Read For Some Time

Yes that plaudit goes to a book I concluded just moments ago, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman


A wonderful alternate history novel that posits the notion of Dracula triumphing over Van Helsing and taking Queen Victoria as his new bride. Victorian London is now, in every position from the lowest working class to the ruling class, an uneasy alliance of vampires and 'warm bloods'. Meanwhile a series of murders occur in Whitechapel; vampire whores slain and butchered by a silver knife. As Scotland Yard and Mycroft Holmes' shadowy Diogenes Club investigate, red ink letters start to appear to take credit for the   killings from someone calling themselves Jack The Ripper.

Newman's credentials as a knowledgeable authority in this field are never in doubt and he shows a clear love for gothic Victoriana and the pea souper fogs of London, as well as a desire to seemingly include virtually every worthwhile figure from cult film, TV, literature and history with characters like Count Iorga, Rupert Of Hentzau (The Prisoner Of Zenda) Inspector Lestrade and Sebastian Moran (from the Holmes canon, Holmes himself is absent from the novel, having been packed off to Devil's Dyke, an internment camp for those unwilling to serve Dracula)  Fu Manchu, Raffles, Bill Sikes, Doctors Jekyll and Moreau and Sgt Danny Dravot (The Man Who Would Be King) to name but a few all appearing alongside Bram Stoker's characters, real life figures (Sir Charles Warren, the Ripper's victims, John Merrick aka The Elephant Man and many more) and of course Newman's own creations. It's a lovely trick that I really enjoyed, being able to spot the references, indeed it was something I tried to do myself in my own long out of print self published novel Guido's Children which featured fictional 60s alumni characters like Doomwatch's John Ridge and Magical Mystery Tour's Miss Wendy Winters alongside real life figures like Harold Wilson, John Peel and Peter Purves, John Noakes and Valerie Singleton  (who managed to stall an attempted media takeover from some of the villains live in the Blue Peter studio!)

The good news is Newman has written three other novels in this series set at various points in the 20th Century right up until the mid to late 70s. I'm already looking forward to the next one, The Bloody Red Baron, already purchased which is about Dracula leading the Prussian troops in WWI

2 comments:

  1. This sounds very interesting. Victorian London and Jack The Ripper, 2 things bound to catch my interest. I remember Kim Newman from the Mark & Lard show. Wasn't he a TV critic?

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    1. The very man! He tends to pop up on BBC4 as a talking head about some obscure TV show or horror movie yeah, dressed like a Victorian dandy with impressive facial hair

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