Fantasy BotM: October 2011: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Hobbit, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Can't Get Enough of My Stuff, Evidently... Staff Member

    Jul 16, 2001
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    I'm pleased to say that October's Fantasy Book of the Month is Kim Newman's Anno Dracula.


    This is the recent rerelease of a book that's been out of print for about 20 years here in the UK.

    Here's what I said when I reviewed it in May 2011:

    Do you agree?


    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  2. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

    Sep 2, 2005
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    Boy, do I ever agree.

    I had hoped to reread this before now, but other projects interfered. From what I recall of the novel, Newman puts all his knowledge in a blender, hits puree, and creates a great Victorian smoothie.

    Possibly that's pushing a figure of speech too far. On the other hand, you can see this as an early example of urban fantasy, as continuance of the history of London ala Gaiman's Neverwhere and perhaps even more so, Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and as one of the best in a long line of faux Victorian adventure stories like the Gaiman, the Moore (graphic novels), or Jonathan Barnes' The Somnambulist. Newman did a great job, I thought, of staying true to the fictional characters he appropriated (the ones I recognized, anyway), as well as to the real life people he chose to use.

    Anno Dracula was one of the most entertaining fantasies I read at that time, and I'm pleased to see it back in print.

    Randy M.
  3. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

    Jun 16, 2009
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    I haven't started this yet, and I may wait until closer to Hallowe'en itself before digging into it due to the vampiric themes and a few other books deciding to sit in the way.

    That said, you both have given me a bit of confidence with it. In all honesty, I bought it simply to complete a 3-for-2 offer in Waterstone's although the little I'd seen about it on the forums probably helped.

    I'll certainly be looking forward to this now, though.
  4. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

    May 21, 2002
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    Well, this book took me longer than anything I've read in the last year or so. I can't remember the last time I took two weeks to read something. That said, I can't blame the book. Illness, friends in from out of town, gigs out of town myself. But I finally finished.

    All that said, I think this definitely wasn't a book I would have enjoyed if I had read it at my usual pace. I did tear through the first quarter of it in one day and was on pace to do the same on day 2 and I just hit a wall. It was a wall of historical and literary personages flying past my pages at an incredible pace without much intro or context at all...and at that pace, it was just too much. I looked up the Wiki page on the book and it cites something like 140 different characters pulled from various sources, most of which I'm not familiar with. So I was a bit discouraged by all that.

    But then, due to my schedule, I started reading in smaller chunks and it became a much "better" book. More fairly, I think I was reading it in a way that worked better for the book.

    What I ended up with was an enjoyable read that I thought was pretty interesting. I didn't quite hit the magic mark for me, though. To do that it would have had to do one of two things: more or less. I either wanted it to be a straight-up mystery (hunting down Jack) or a more fleshed-out tapestry of this alternate 1888 London. I felt the book tread too much of a middle-ground for my tastes. The mystery felt undercooked (and not much of a mystery since Jack was revealed halfway through) and the politics felt thin and tacked on.

    That said, I quite liked some of the personal relationships and the "world-building" of the different lines of vampires and what we got to see of how the introduction of vampirism was affecting different slices of British society.

    So, the sequels: Are they as much of a mish-mash but in different times, or are they trying to accomplish something else?