Review by C.J. Bunce
It was such a big deal to prepare for, and then it was over in an instant never to be heard from again. That’s Y2K, or the Millennium Bug, and it’s a fun time to look back on especially if it’s part of that richly detailed Anno Dracula universe created by British author Kim Newman (who we interviewed six years ago for Halloween here at borg). The third story in Newman’s Christina Light arc (after the comic series Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem and novel Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters), Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju gathers a team of real and unreal, dead and undead, at a giant skyscraper in Tokyo on December 31, 1999, for the New Year’s party to end all New Year’s parties.
Newman is the master of world-building and mash-ups, and he doesn’t disappoint in this new October release. In what horror universe is both John Blutarski a U.S. Senator partying in Japan (remember John Belushi’s character in Animal House?), the Apollo 13 movie included the first vampire astronaut, and Charlie’s Angels reconvene years later? Anno Dracula continues its mix of historic characters of pop culture and politics and those throwback tangent characters from literature, TV, and movies. In Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju readers can remember what it was like to “party like it’s 1999” with an alternate history where Dracula and vampires have always been real.
Newman includes so many Easter eggs in his books that finding them all–probably impossible for anyone that isn’t Kim Newman–should be part of some kind of international contest.
The New Year’s party of this story is in honor of Christina Light, famed vampire princess. But will she show, and will anyone even get through the labyrinthine skyscraper to attend on the 88th floor by midnight? Who is the shadowy Jun Zero? Is Y2K really a bug, or is it a person, or worse: that daikaiju in the title is the name of the tower in Tokyo that houses the offices of an international conglomerate, but it also means “big monsters.” So get ready for anything to happen, including the appearance of a cyborg and maybe even Dracula himself, as distinguished guests, leaders of finance, tech, and culture, are held hostage by yakuza assassins and Transylvanian mercenaries. Enter vampire schoolgirl Nezumi–agent of the Diogenes Club–who finds herself and her trusty sword named “Goodnight Kiss” pitted against the deadliest creatures the world has ever known.
Here is the brief introduction of Nezumi:
A little Japanese girl stepped shyly around the corner. The skirt of her red sailor suit was two sizes too small to cover frothy petticoats. A jaunty cap was pinned to her curls. She licked a glistening red lollipop. Not cherry flavour.
The Dracula world is there, plus 1990s nostalgia, and an unlikely combination of characters. In addition to the stories mentioned above, Newman ties it all in with his other books in the series, including the original 1993 Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde, and Jack the Ripper story Anno Dracula, the James Bond send-up Dracula Cha Cha Cha, the Genevieve Dieudonné stories in Genevieve Undead, the WWI story Bloody Red Baron, the son of Dracula tale Johnny Alucard, and even Newman’s otherworld Harry Potter-esque The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School.
Just out from Titan Books and just in time for Halloween, don’t miss Kim Newman’s next great alternate history horror novel, Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju, available now only in paperback here at Amazon.