Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard is the fourth book in Kim Newman’s best-selling series. It follows Dracula Cha Cha Cha and that’s a bit of a surprise. Cha Cha Cha very much felt like the end of the series. Johnny Alucard is responsible for starting it again.
The premise of Anno Dracula is this; what if Dracula was successful in England? What if Jack the Ripper was a vampire killer? Two great alternative history questions.
As we read through the books we move forward in time. Jonny Alucard takes is up to the 80s and 90s. Imagine an alternative 80s where vampires were part of society. Which pop stars would be vampires? Which movie stars would be vampires? Which TV celebs would be vampires? There’s a lot of fun to be had with celebrity culture in Johnny Alucard and I sense Newman relished the chance.
There’s drugs. Johnny Alucard introduces “Drac” – made from vampire blood – to America. The result? Dhampire highs. Humans who get to enjoy a temporary hit of vampire high; fangs and all.
There’s movies. In fact, movies are the life blood of Johnny Alucard. We begin with Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula and the reoccurring character Kate Reed on set with him as a technical advisor. As it turns out; many of the people involved in Hollywood and the movie making business are blood suckers. The satire isn’t really disguised.
I enjoyed the book. It was great to go back and see what favourite characters like Genevieve are doing. Although I enjoyed the book I was often unsure what was going on. It wasn’t the case that I couldn’t follow the development of the plot but it was the case that I’d often wonder about the relevance of the plot. Exciting stuff happens but sometimes the relevance of it is lost. There’s momentum but perhaps not meaning.
That said; I suspect I’m understating the conclusion of the book. I said there’s momentum but perhaps not meaning – isn’t that another way of saying there’s a sense of inevitability? It’s a story that stretches over 20 or so years to reach the inevitable conclusion and in terms of Anno Dracula it’s a pretty huge conclusion. Everything changes. It’s big bang 2.0.
Johnny Alucard starts the Anno Dracula series again, resetting the pieces and rebuilding the game board. It would be disappointing if there wasn’t another in the Anno Dracula series. This book builds the case for it.
As always; I strongly recommend the first Anno Dracula to anyone interested in alternative history or vampires. Then it’s a case of giving The Bloody Red Baron and Cha Cha Cha a go. If you’re still a fan then there’s absolutely no doubt that you should go straight for Johnny Dracula. If you’re not sure; still go for Johnny Dracula as I think it’s the second strongest book in the series.
My copy of the book was provided for review. Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard, Hardcover 448 pp, Kim Newman from Titan Books.