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Anno Dracula [with additional material] by…

Anno Dracula [with additional material]

by Kim Newman

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Amazon.com Review As Nina Auerbach writes in the New York Times, " Stephen King assumes we hate vampires; Anne Rice makes it safe to love them, because they hate themselves. Kim Newman suspects that most of us live with them . . . . Anno Dracula is the definitive account of that post-modern species, the self-obsessed undead." In this first of what looks to be an excellent series, Victorian England has vampires at every level of society, especially the higher ones, and they engage in incessant intrigue, power games, and casual oppression of the weak--activities, as we know, that are all too human. Numerous characters from literature and from history appear in both major and cameo roles. Spectacular fight scenes, stormy politics, and a serial vampire killer keep the action lively. A scholarly bibliography is included. From Publishers Weekly Queen Victoria consorts with Count Dracula in this ingenious historical romp peopled by historic characters.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. ( )
  buffygurl | Mar 8, 2019 |
The title kept niggling at me: shouldn't it be Anno Draculae? Latin declensions aside though, this counterfictional mash-up is quite good fun, if a little baggy. The premise is that Dracula was not defeated by Van Helsing, but instead succeeded in his plot to take over British society, and ended up marrying – and turning – Queen Victoria. As the Prince Consort, he now rules over a British Empire where vampirism is a fashionable lifestyle choice, and where historical figures like Joseph Merrick or Bram Stoker rub shoulders with such fictional worthies as Dr Jekyll, Mina Harker and Mycroft Holmes.

Although Newman's joy in playing around with these familiar tropes is everywhere in evidence, there is often a sense that he is more interested in pastiching the conventions of Gothic Victoriana than he is in developing a really compelling narrative of his own. Many scenes consist of clever-ish little conceits that move the story on not at all. And sometimes even as a period exercise his voice does not ring true – amidst the pea-soupers and Hansom cabs of the opening chapter was description of a streetwalker that mentioned her ‘bangs’, a word so completely at variance with the time and place that I had to put the book down and stare with bemusement directly into the camera, like someone from The Office.

The main plot revolves around the hunt for Jack the Ripper, here recast as a potential catalyst for open war between the undead and the ‘warm’. But all that is very much a pretext for the main business, which is about crowbarring in as many references to obscure literary vampires and Victorian marginalia as physically possible. Spotting them all is, admittedly, quite fun, although this newer edition spoils the game somewhat by including an appendix which makes explicit most of the references. Perhaps ironically, the most compelling characters by far are the two that Newman has invented himself – Charles Beauregard, a kind of proto-spy, and Geneviève Dieudonné, a four-hundred-year-old, more-or-less virtuous French vampire who looks like a teenage girl. If only he had put a little more faith in his own creations and felt less need to lean quite so heavily on his metafictional scaffolding, you feel that this could have been wildly successful.

As it is I still enjoyed myself much more than some critics here seemed to – though other books have done this kind of thing better, most of them came later and looked back to Anno Dracula when they did it. Besides, Kim Newman's love and knowledge of horror conventions and B-movie devices was, I felt, rather irresistible. I find myself quite wanting to read more in the series to see whether the prose gets any leaner and more controlled, and indeed whether Newman's Latin improves. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Apr 13, 2017 |
Usually enjoy vampire fiction and alternate history so was really expecting to enjoy reading Anno Dracula. For some reason this novel did not grab me, I was reading it on a red-eye flight so I wonder how much of a role context did play. ( )
  brakketh | Mar 6, 2016 |
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com/)

The premise of Anno Dracula might seem a little out there, but it's straightforward enough. It’s a Victorian London where every fictional vampire ever written is real (along with a bunch of other fictional folk), and Dracula is married to the Queen. Jack the Ripper is on the prowl, targeting only vampire whores and tensions between vampires and “warms” (humans) are rising.

Whenever I go to describe this book I found myself saying things like ‘a cracker read,’ and ‘a rollicking good time, by Jove.’ All said with a rubbish British accent, natch. The book is just so overwhelmingly and charmingly British, circa the 1800s. Everything is all correct manners and cricket and chivalry. But at the same time Newman pulls off the impressive trick of sounding authentic and modern at the same time. The book did not read like a novel in 1880, is read like a novel set in 1880. A small but important distinction, if you ask me.

And you might think that all the Britishness would get old after a while, but I never found this to be so. The plot and characters are strong enough to carry it, and it makes for a highly unique and enjoyable read.

In some ways the book reminded me of Gail Carriger’s ‘Soulless,’ although ‘Anno Dracula’ has almost 20 years on it. But it’s a similar setting, and one where vampires have only just come out of the closet, as it were. Newman, however, delves far deeper into the ramifications and politics of this than does Carriger, and it was one of my favourite aspects of the book. I also enjoyed that, while many steampunk authors tend to glamorize the era, Newman does not shy away from the uglier side of the time. When asked what would they eat when everyone in Britain was a vampire one character points out, in a most reasonable manner, that they would simply import Africans to serve as cattle. A repulsive idea to you and me of course, but the matter of fact way its said in the book shines a light on the way people thought back then.

This book is also a literary nerd’s dream. The world Newman has created feels fresh and original, but really is the results of taking a whole bunch of other books and smooshing them together. There are scores of familiar faces, from Dracula to Jack the Ripper to Dr. Jekyll. But more fun than the named characters are the ones only mentioned in passing. I was ridiculously proud of myself when I spotted Anne Rice’s Lestat from only a sentence of description. ‘Oh ho,’ I thought to myself, ‘I bet not too many others were canny enough to notice that!’ Then I looked on the internet and realized for that one little reference that I’d gotten there were, oh, a bazzallion others that I’d missed.

And it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the book at all. So if your knowledge of classic works of horror is limited, don’t let it put you off this book. My only issue was that sometimes I would be unsure if a character was Newman’s original creation or if he’d borrowed them from somewhere. It would pull me out of the story a little and I’d have to go look it up to be sure.

The book technically isn’t steampunk, but the rise of the genre is almost undoubtedly why the book got reissued. I’m sure steampunk fans would get a real kick out of, as will vampire fans or horror fans or queen Victoria fans or, well, pretty much anyone who likes there fiction a little on the quirky side. ( )
  MeganDawn | Jan 18, 2016 |
Fun enough, but the conceit wore thin for me at the halfway point. Newman's writing is best when not trying quite so hard. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
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In an alternate history of the nineteenth century, Queen Victoria has married Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula, leading to a reign of horror, while, in Whitechapel, Silver Knife, a murderer of vampire girls, threatens the new regime.

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