BOOK REVIEW: Anno Dracula – The Bloody Red Baron

It is 1918 and 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. As ever the Diogenes Club is at the heart of British Intelligence and Charles Beauregard and his protegé Edwin Winthrop go head-to-head with the lethal vampire flying machine that is the Bloody Red Baron.

The number of Dracula books that have been published recently is astounding.  Some are good, some not so good and others can be called excellent.  Anno Dracula – The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman is in another league entirely and can only be labelled brilliant.  This book is the second in a series and covers world war one in an alternative world where Dracula, in the previous book, had married Queen Victoria after the death of her beloved Albert.  His presence in England brought out the vampires who were already living in the UK, as well as spawning his own children from his feeding.  Dracula seems to have been forced out of the UK by a coalition of vampires and the actions of the Diogenes Club and their agent Charles Beauregard.

This the second volume has many fascinating threads running through it.  It explores the Vampire species, how separate strains are have differing abilities, strengths and weaknesses.  Some have the ability to cloud minds or influence actions and others are helpless toys, unable to resist anyone’s commands or suggestions.  Some are shapeshifters and others cannot change.  Some rejuvenate from any injury, even death and others are easily destroyed.  There are those who cannot stand up to the light of the sun, religious paraphernalia or chants, garlic or silver, yet other strains are immune to any or all of them.  The vagaries of vampiric vulnerabilities means that many of their attackers have great difficulties in assaults on individual vampires.  Several of these are defined in detail in an almost comical manner.

In this alternate world, Dracula has suborned the German government at the highest levels, and have ordered German scientists to study vampires and how to improve them.  One of their greatest triumphs involves the mixing of the bloodlines of the various types of blood suckers, to create the greatest aerial armada of the first world war, headed by Manfred von Richthofen, the Bloody Red Baron.  The Flying Circus is resisted by Condor Squadron, British aeronauts gathered together from many nations yet almost all of them are vampires.  Being a vampire for many in the beleaguered UK is almost seen as being a hero for many of the ordinary men and women of the nation.

Scattered throughout are characters from history, film and fiction, such as Edgar Allen Poe and Professor ten Brinken, Theda Bara, Mata Hari, General Mireau and a host of others, who are all marvellously woven together into the brilliant storylines, which are again combined into a glorious weave of words.

This is the story of how WW1 might have been fought and highlights the phrase “War is Hell” as possibly never before.  It was an incredibly brilliant read, with spellbinding descriptions of individuals, places and action.  Riveting and almost impossible to put down. I would recommend this book to any lover of vampire fiction.  This book will provide hours of wonderful reading pleasure.   I give this book a 5 out of 5, and hope to get my hands on the first book of the series soon. The only issue a reader might have after reading, is the level that other works of imagination will need to reach to compete with it, and I hope I find the first has been written to the same standard as this when I finally obtain it.

Rating: 5/5
Reporter: Wahtotherway, Montoya

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