Friday, November 09, 2012

Anno Dracula

Yesterday was Bram Stoker's 165 birthday (or would have been if he was still around). This seems like a good time to talk about the novel I am re-reading - Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. This is a revised re-issue of a book that came out 20 reads ago.

The novel takes place in 1888 in an alternate timeline from Dracula. In this version, Dracula survived Van Helsing and company and went on to marry Queen Victoria. By the time the novel takes place, vampires are not only accepted, they are fashionable. They also run the country. England is not exactly a paradise. People who object to the new regime are rounded up and taken to a concentration camp called the Devil's Dyke. To advance in society, you really need to be a vampire. So many people are becoming vampires that bloodlines have become polluted and most new vampires are twisted and unlikely to live very long.

On top of that, Jack Seward (from the novel) has gone crazy and is killing vampire prostitutes under the name Jack the Ripper. This threatens the already-fraying social fabric of London.

Charles Beauregard, agent of the Diogenese Club is sent to investigate. He is aided by Geneviève Dieudonné, an elder vampire who eternally looks sixteen. Along the way we find that multiple characters have their own conflicting agendas. Even the Diogenese Club is playing a deeper game than just sending an agent to solve a crime.

The depth of the novel is amazing. Wikipedia has a list of all of the fictional and historic characters who appear. Some of them are less than a cameo. Early on Lord Ruthven (from The Vampyre, the first vampire story written in English) gives a list of other elder vampires and why only he is suitable to being Prime Minister. Other characters are given major supporting status. Even Geneviève is taken from some of Newman's other works.

Dracula himself is more of a presence than an active character. He only appears in two scenes - a flashback to the night that Mina Haker became a vampire and a scene near the end of the novel.

The novel led to two sequels with a third planned for next year.

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