Friday, 18 January 2013

Anno Dracula vol. 2: The Bloody Red Baron

Kim Newman
Titan Books

It is 1918 and Graf von Dracula is commander-in-chief of the armies ofGermany and Austria-Hungary. The War of the Great Powers in Europeis also a war between the living and the undead. Caught up in the conflict, Charles Beauregard, an old enemy of Dracula, his protegé 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, Geneviève Dieudonné,newly returned to England, infiltrates a singular vampire gathering in the service of the Diogenes Club.When I started reading this I wasn’t really in the mood for a novel (too tired) and so the first 50 or so pages were a bit of a slog as I kept stopping to read comics. Once I had time to wake and liven up a bit I started the book in earnest and boy what a ride.

This second volume of the Anno Dracula tales moves the action onto the 1914-18 war. Dracula is now one of the leaders of Germany and the motivating force behind the German War Effort.

At Schloss Adler various ‘scientific’ experiments are being undertaken on the various members of the JG1 squadron of air aces under Baron Manfred Von Richtofen.  Rallied against these are the British aces and the Diogenes Club.

As before there’s a plethora of both action and intrigue but with the focus being much more confined this volume lacks the scope of the first. It’s still a wonderful react though filled with fun and adventure and fangs.

There’s a back-up story too. A pastiche of Twilight and P, G. Wodehouse involving a meeting of elders at a drafty old English country house up North. There’re dirty deeds afoot and the Diogenes Club sends Winthrop and Genevieve to investigate. They’re soon embroiled in a murder whilst the plucky (and slightly dim) young, vampire besotted, love struck lady of the house along with the ancient (but teenaged Kill Bill style) Japanese bodyguard investigate what soon transpires to be a rather grand plot waiting to be uncovered.

It’s a great little read. Long enough to be very satisfying but short enough to ensure it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

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