‘Anno Dracula 1918: The Bloody Red Baron’ puts us straight into the thick of the action. It’s the total war and there is much to be done. The Germans have the upper hand in the air, thanks in no small part to the Bloody Red Baron, Von Richtofen who, as a vampire, has made night vision goggles obsolete. The British have their own vampires who freely mix with their warm compatriots. They want an end to the war and are desperate to find out how the Germans are maintaining dominance of the air.
This sequel to ‘Anno Dracula’ sees Graf von Dracula back in Europe and in cahoots with the Kaiser. The conflict that sweeps the globe is not so dissimilar to the Great War that we know except that on both sides are vampires with enhance d skills
Kate Reed, the vampire and crusading journalist, is fifty. She’s still a relatively youthful vampire and she’s not seen the sights the elders might take in their stride. Charles Beauregard, agent of the Diogenes Club has seen a few sights himself but the World War is one he wishes he could have avoided. Edwin Winthrop is a whole lot younger but keen to serve his country in the same way as Charles although he too can be flexible. In the mix and on the other side, there is the vampire Edgar Poe who has been contracted to write the life story of the Bloody Baron himself. It’s not going to be easy and Edgar has his eyes opened to the German War machine and just how far they will go to win.
Kim Newman’s novel is rich with literary and film allusions. Characters both real and fictional from Newman’s own imagination jostle with classic novels, films and history and even Snoopy gets a name check. This is all to the good and doesn’t slow down the story which is in turns, visceral, eye-wateringly gross and touchingly emotional. The characters are sympathetic, even the ones you don’t think will be and it also reaches its own satisfying conclusion despite being part of a series.
The Titan edition of ‘The Bloody Red Baron’ also includes a new novella featuring the elder Genevieve Dieudonne, who is temporarily recruited by the Diogenes club to investigate a meeting where English vampires attempt to elect a new leader to replace Dracula. A nice addition, this expands the AD universe a bit more and is no way secondary to the main novel.
Overall, then, something to get your teeth into.
(pub: Titan Books. 586 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $14.95 (US), $16.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-084-6)