Review by C.J. Bunce
Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula is a series of novels and short stories that began in 1992, showcasing an elaborate and detailed parallel history of Earth set between 1888 and 1990 (so far), where Bram Stoker’s Dracula is seen as a true biographical account of the real Count, and the Count controls England by winning the hand of Queen Victoria. Anno Dracula is a steampunk mix of fictional characters and real people spanning a century in a bit of a The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Legenderry construct. Gunga Din, Fu Manchu, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Lestat de Lioncourt (from Interview with the Vampire), Prince Mamuwalde (from Blacula), Doctor Moreau, Allan Quatermain, and even Carl Kolchak from The Night Stalker all show up in Newman’s fantasy world, alongside real people of the past like Billy the Kid, Catherine the Great, Joseph Merrick, William Morris, Beatrix Potter, and Orson Welles. Newman’s entirely new story is in the form of a comic book series, Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem, published by Titan Comics and illustrated by Paul McCaffrey, and it is now available in a collected trade edition from Titan Comics.
As Dracula’s tenth jubilee approaches, an assassination plan is underway from radical forces in Great Britain. Newman’s powerful lead Kate Reed–journalist, free thinker, and vampire–has joined a council of revolutionaries, but when Dracula’s secret police come crashing in she turns to a familiar old friend to try to save herself and the Count himself, but she must first get through Count Graf Von Orlok of Nosferatu fame. As with past entries in the series, this is not a tale about Dracula, but more about every other living and fictional famous face of the day. And my favorite piece of a Kim Newman story is his use of fantastic characters and historical figures sometimes only for a single page or, as with his new graphic series, in a single panel, but always for a reason, and often for a joke (Twilight books, you are not exempt). So keep a lookout for a steampunk cyborg Thomas Edison and a ship captain with a striking similarity to Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera. Artist McCaffrey’s artistry is a great pairing with Newman’s classic prose.
Few authors have a such a command of their subjects as Newman has of vampire lore and film. Check out my interview with Newman back in 2013 here at borg.com, as well as our reviews of his sequels to the novel Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha here, and Johnny Alucard here. Fans of Alan Moore’s several adaptations of classic characters will love Newman’s works, but be prepared: Where Moore puts a few characters together to have an adventure such as in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Newman has deftly woven easily more than a thousand into his world. Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem is proof that the entire Anno Dracula series should be adapted to the graphic novel format. An exciting, rousing tale, it’s too good to pass up.
The new trade edition of Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem includes all the variant cover art from the comic book series, with a foreword by Mike Mignola and an afterword by Newman hinting at his next story coming soon and getting ever closer to the present: Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju.
Order Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem, in trade format from Elite Comics or from Amazon here, available now.
Some images from the book: