Anno Dracula 1923: Vampire Romance

I mentioned previously that my edition of The Bloody Red Baron included a novella set in 1923, and now I’ve read it. Quite honestly, this may the best part of the book.

Geneviève Dieudonné and Edwin Winthrop, both of whom have been introduced in previous novels, are brought together in order to infiltrate a meeting of vampire elders at the appropriately named Mildew Manor. The elders intend to elect a new “King of the Cats” to replace Dracula but what we have instead is a delightful mixture of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton.

There is probably enough in here to have made for a full blown novel, but I really enjoyed the shortness of this. The single location — pretty much everything takes place in Mildew Manor — and the small cast really does give the characters a chance to shine and keeps everything moving along at a cracking pace.

Although this novella refers to characters and events from the previous books, you really don’t need to have read them to enjoy this tale of jolly hockey sticks and murder in the drawing room. And if any of the Anno Dracula stories was ever adapted into a film, this one would certainly get my vote.

The Bloody Red Baron

Way back in 2011, I read Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. In this novel, Dracula has defeated Van Helsing and traveled to London where he becomes the new Prince Consort. Against the backdrop of this alternative history, in which historical and fictional characters crop up all over the place, the plot follows the emergence of Jack The Ripper and the efforts of the main characters to identify and stop him. It’s an excellent novel with an unbelievable amount of detail tucked away (much of which, I am sure, I missed).

I have finally gotten around to reading the sequel, The Bloody Red Baron. In this novel events have moved on and the setting is now the First World War. Dracula, having fled Britain, is the commander in chief of of the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Charles Beauregard, the hero of the first novel and his protegé, Edwin Winthrop, find themselves facing the lethal vampire flying machine that is the Bloody Red Baron.

The Bloody Red Baron retains the same mashing together of historical and fictional characters that made Anno Dracula so much fun but it doesn’t feel quite as effective this time around. This could, of course, merely be a reflection of my memory or the fact that I am less familiar with some of the WWI references. And even without this, the novel still works very well as a war story with a lot to say.

The book is split into four parts and, initially, feels a little superficial. This led to it taking a bit of time to get going, but by the time I reached part 3, I was utterly gripped and found the novel to be increasingly difficult to put down.

The edition I have also includes a novella, set in 1923, which I shall start reading very shortly.