Titan Books reprints a fun Kim Newman near classic . . .
by Kim Newman, Titan Books
Next year April sees the publication of Brit author Kim Newman’s belated fourth entry in his Anno Dracula series, Johnny Alucard. The previous books in the franchise were Anno Dracula (first published in 1992), Bloody Red Baron (1995) and Dracula Cha Cha Cha (1998).
Newman’s Anno Dracula books, which predate the popular Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood books by Charlaine Harris, depict an alternate history in which outed vampires live side-by-side with humans. Unlike the Stackhouse series, Anno Dracula is however a bit of a post-modern lark in which fictional characters from other books and films really exist and rub shoulders with Newman’s literary creations.
Dracula Cha Cha Cha (the title is based on an actual song, which also features in the book: http://youtu.be/-Yyi4b0XMF4) is set in the 1959 mythical Rome of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Except in this one Count Dracula is real and about to marry a vampire princess that will reaffirm his position as the lord of the undead. But is that really the plan? In the meantime a mysterious figure dressed as a Mexican wrestler (no, really) is killing off so-called vampire elders all over the city of Rome. Thrown into the mix is a suave British secret agent named Bond, Hamish Bond. Beginning to get the picture yet?
Author Newman (who is a regular reviewer for the influential Empire movie magazine) is clearly having fun and showing off his encyclopedic knowledge of horror movie trivia. Weirdly enough, it is not as self-indulgent an exercise as one might think and the chances are quite good that you, the reader, will also have a good time reading it.
The novel includes a new novella that is unfortunately a bit heavy on the name dropping and exposition due to the limited scope of the story. Still, Newman’s novel on its own is worth the price of admission. While you don’t need to have read any of the previous installments in the series it does help however.
Incidentally the next book will be set in 1976 and will feature Francis Ford Coppola (filming his Dracula movie of course) and Andy Warhol. We can’t wait.
A fun, sly read for both Anno Dracula fans as well as newcomers. It manages a fine balance between seriousness and jokey irrelevance. Roll on the next Anno Dracula book we say!