Having had a lot of fun with the reissued Anno Dracula last year, I was looking forward to the sequel, which I think I read once when it first appeared in the last century.
Having been removed from his position as Prince Consort in the previous book, Dracula left Britain and eventually got into a position of influence in Germany. The story begins in the later stages of the First World War, and involves the usual mixture of real and fictional characters, some named explicitly, others more obliquely, and more references and allusions than anyone who isn’t actually Kim Newman is likely to spot on first reading.
For instance, there’s a bit where Baron von Richtofen causally shoots a white beagle, referring to it as an “absurd dog”. Poor Snoopy.
And we meet an officer called Drummond, described as a fine specimen of the bulldog breed, which is to say he was barking mad.
Not to mention a blatant Doctor Strangelove gag
‘I say,’ snapped Haig, ‘stop that, you two. I’ll have no fighting in here. There’s a war on, you know.’
And much, much more.
But the heart of the story is the Bloody Red Baron himself. Like most of the err, best, members of the nobility, the Baron is a vampire, which makes him rather more of a challenge to his enemies. Given a good dose of blood from Dracula, Richtofen and the rest of his Flying Freak Show become uniquely equipped to destroy allied planes. I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I say that they manage this without the aid of the usual Fokker Triplanes.
Lots of fun, adventure, a superb cast of characters, and all those allusions to spot. Good stuff, highly recommended.
This being a reissue, it does come with some extras – a novelette set in 1923 featuring some of the same characters, which includes a lovely swipe at some other vampire stories you may have heard of:
Otterbourne’s Nitelite Saga novels has so much swooning Lydia wondered if the authoress was prone to fits
Anno Dracula 1923: Vampire Romance makes the reissue worth a look even if you have the original. Lots of vampires managing to not get on very well at all, mysterious murders, evil conspiracies and meddling kids. Great fun.
There’s also a brief section revealing some of the sources, and an outline for a sort of related movie that was never made.