Book Review: Anno Dracula
You don't need to have read Dracula to understand the Anno Dracula series but you will be missing out on a lot of the fun without some knowledge of the character and his history. Also, why wouldn't you want to read Dracula, that book is amazing. I wish I was reading Dracula right now instead of having to explain to you why you should be reading Kim Newman's spin-off. The premise of the first story is quite simple, the main characters of the classic novel failed in their attempts to destroy the vampire and he has settled comfortably into life in London, “convincing” Queen Victoria to marry him and beginning a vampiric dynasty in Britain that has allowed all of the other vampires in the world to come out of the woodwork.
The plot follows an investigation into this alternate history's version of Jack the Ripper, a serial killer known as the Silver Knife who murders the many vampire prostitutes that populate Whitechapel. Along the way we encounter anti-vampiric revolutionaries, literary characters pop in from every other vampire story of the time and Queen Victoria is most assuredly not amused. The following books move on from Victorian England throughout the course of human history heading towards the present, sharing little but the concept and the central character of Dracula who drifts in and out of focus as the stories demand.
The beauty of the books, beyond their straightforward and enjoyable stories is in their density. Every sentence is a reference to some work of vampire fiction or historical event and anything that isn't will be dragging you along by the nose through the twists and turns of the plot without a single pause for explanation. Anno Dracula never apologises for what it is or what it is doing and because of that it is going to miss the mark for a lot of people. If you want your fiction to be self-conscious and embarrassed about its dirty genre fiction roots then by all means go take a look anywhere else in the literary fiction shelves at all of the authors blindly denying the history of their work.
Anno Dracula is pulp fiction in the tradition of the old Penny Dreadful and it revels in its own nature just like a certain Count when he no longer has to hide behind pretenses of civility. The fangs are out on display in this book and if you can go with the flow then you are going to have a bloody great time.