One year ago today, I submitted my first review for AndyErupts and a matter of days later, I found myself immersed in Anno Dracula, Kim Newman’s tale of Jack the Ripper operating in a Victorian England where Dracula has wed the Queen and vampirism is rife. It seems only appropriate that I mark today by reviewing the sequel to Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron.
“It is 1918 and Graf von Dracula is commander-in-chief of the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The war of the great powers in Europe is also a war between the living and the dead. Caught up in the conflict, Charles Beauregard, an old enemy of Dracula, his protégé Edwin Winthrop, and intrepid vampire reporter Kate Reed go head-to-head with the lethal vampire flying machine that is the Bloody Red Baron…
In the brand-new novella Vampire Romance, Genevieve Dieudonne, newly returned to England, infiltrates a singular vampire gathering in the service of the Diogenes Club.”
Anno Dracula was one of the vampire stories that I have read over the last year that have restored my faith in the vampiric sub-genre, after the recent onslaught of sparkly emo vampires that seem to be so prevalent at the moment. As with Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron is very much rooted in historical fact, much to my delight. Newman skillfully takes the already horrific events of The Great War and perverts them with a vampiric taint.
Where Anno Dracula introduced the reader to some of the principal players still present in The Bloody Red Baron, the characters in this sequel include some of the most popular vampires from pop culture; and as with this novel’s predecessor, various fiction and horror favourites turn up such as Dr Moreau, Herbert West, Dr Caligari, Biggles are drafted in and added to a cast of figures from history such as Kaiser Wilhelm II, Winston Churchill, Rasputin and even a brief appearance by Adolf Hitler… It would be quite easy for a lesser author to become distracted in an attempt to cram as many names as possible into such a tome; but Newman’s use of figures from fact and fiction simply make his work all the more entertaining and add a depth and colour to proceedings with the inclusion of characters that already have a well-established backstory. And of course, this tale includes Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron himself.
Critically, some of Newman’s creations, I choose not to reveal what they are, could be considered entirely implausible, even in an alternate universe where man and vampire co-exist. However, the author has developed the backstory of his creations to such a degree that you cannot help but be caught up in the tale that he tells.
Newman maintains the same tone, humour and wit from Anno Dracula and portrays the events of The Great War in a suitably sombre fashion while still telling a tremendous vampire-based yarn. My first passion has always been history and Newman continued to delight me with a work of horror fiction, that is impressively rich in historical fact … and twists much of it to its own end. Adhering to factual accuracy as much as is possible in an alternate universe populated by vampires is no mean feat but Kim Newman achieves this and in doing so, manages to tell a fantastic story at the same time.
As an added bonus for fans of Newman’s work, this edition of The Bloody Red Baron comes with an additional chapter (one of my favourite parts of the story!); and a novella Vampire Romance, which is a bit of a murder mystery, typical of the 1920’s era in which it is set, advancing the story of Genevieve Dieudonne from Anno Dracula and once again, is peppered with characters from the genre such as Dorian Gray among others.
Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron is available from our Gore Store at the link below.