Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

In 1992 Kim Newman (better known at the time for his non-fiction criticism of film, especially the horror genre) released a vampire book with a difference, it was called Anno Dracula. Anno Dracula was ahead of its time in 1992. Kim Newman took Bram Stoker's classic vampire story of Dracula and tweaked it.

In Newman's reimagining Vlad Tepes married Queen Victoria and made vampirism the craze throughout England. Anno Dracula takes place in this London, and even the vampires are scared of a killer they call Silver Knife, who preys on mostly newly made vampire prostitutes. The killer later gains a new name; Jack the Ripper. 

The story follows the investigation of the killer carried out by the Diogenes Club's rising star Charles Beauregard and the aristocratic 400 year old French vampire Genevieve Dieudonne. Anno Dracula is what has come to be referred to as a 'mash up' novel. 

Kim Newman has taken the framework of Stoker's classic and added his own touches. There are references to Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Island of Dr Moreau to name just a few, Polidori's very early vampire story Vampyre cracks a mention, as does the penny dreadful work Varney the Vampire

Real world historical events are also mixed in, not just the Jack the Ripper murders, but references to Chinese Gordon's death in Khartoum and the encounter between Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. 

Anno Dracula is a fun romp that never got the attention it deserved on first release, and so was rereleased in 2011. The 2011 edition is far superior in a number of ways. It contains the original story, although I think the author may have reedited it. It also has a new afterword as well as an alternate ending, annotations, a screenplay and articles by Kim Newman. I wasn't really sure what to expect going into Anno Dracula, but all my expectations and more were met. It's one of the most enjoyable things I've read for the year and a worthy addition to the sub genre.


  1. why haven't I read this yet? I keep seeing it every where I look, and i have no excuse!

  2. You should try and clear some space and time in your reading schedule to fit it in. Despite the length it should fly by as it's one of those books you keep saying I'll just read a little bit more and before you know it you're halfway through it. Thanks for the comment.