I first read Anno Dracula when it was shiny and new, nearly twenty years ago. I’ve wanted to re-read it for quite some time, particularly after being reminded of it when I read the Annotated Dracula a while back. But, for reasons known only to the odd undead beings who run the publishing industry, it’s been out of print along with the rest of Kim Newman’s fiction.
If you’re not familiar with Kim Newman, you should be. He often appears on TV as an authority on horror fiction and movies, writes quite serious reference material, and some of the most interesting horror fiction I’ve ever come across. Look him up and be impressed.
But back to Anno Dracula. It’s back, and rather in the manner of a DVD, comes with extra features, which add some interest and value for those who already know the book. I’ll mention a few of those later, but first let’s talk about the story.
The starting point is the question of what might have happened if Van Helsing and his colleagues had failed to destroy Count Dracula? Newman’s answer is that Dracula succeeded in his plan to take over Britain, by turning the widowed Queen Victoria into a vampire, and into his wife, making him Prince Consort and effective ruler.
Now there’s probably a book to be written telling us in detail how that came about, but that’s not what we have here. Instead, Newman takes us some years past those events into a London where many people have “turned”. Most of the upper classes, keen to hold on to power, have become vampires, as have many of the very poor…
But there is still opposition to the new regime. And that’s where the game begins. Newman blends a wonderful collection of historical and fictional characters together in a story that keeps you turning pages to find out what happens next. Mycroft Holmes and the Diogenes Club play an important part, though Sherlock is unavailable, what with having been incarcerated for reasons of dramatic necessity. Doctor Jekyll is around, and so is a version of Jack the Ripper, whose target is vampires.
The extras at the end of the book are a nice collection:
- An afterword, in which the author talks about what led to writing the book
- An alternative ending. Before Anno Dracula, Newman wrote a shorter version called Red Reign, which appeared in The Mammoth Book of Vampires. That ended in a slightly different way, and that section of the novelette is included here.
- Extract’s from Kim Newman’s script for the never-made movie version
- Drac The Ripper – an article speculating about another possible identity for the Ripper
- Dead Travel Fast – a short story about a previously unknown activity of Dracula…
Having enjoyed returning to Kim Newman’s version of Dracula, I’m now looking forward to the sequels, which will be coming out over the coming months. I read The Bloody Red Baron at the time, but I don’t recall seeing Dracula Cha Cha Cha, which moves the action forward to 1959. And there will be a fourth book, Johnny Alucard, to follow.
 Or pressing the next page button
 You’ll understand that if you read the book
 I think you can guess what that one’s about
 Also published as Judgement of Tears, apparently