Kim Newman Anno Dracula – One Thousand Monsters Titan Books, 2017, 400 pages
“There are no vampires in Japan. That is the position of the Emperor. The Emperor is wrong...”
In 1899 Geneviève Dieudonné travels to Japan with a group of vampires exiled from Great Britain by Prince Dracula. They are allowed to settle in Yōkai Town, the district of Tokyo set aside for Japan’s own vampires, an altogether strange and less human breed than the nosferatu of Europe. Yet it is not the sanctuary they had hoped for, as a vicious murderer sets vampire against vampire, and Yōkai Town is revealed to be more a prison than a refuge. Geneviève and her undead comrades will be forced to face new enemies and the horrors hidden within the Temple of One Thousand Monsters…
The new Anno Dracula fills a gap between Anno Dracula and AD: The Bloody Red Baron. The how's and why's of Geneviève's travel to the Far East may be for not-fans a bit complicated and baffling; frankly I have read Anno Dracula so long ago that I also forgot that the novel doesn't end with the Count defeated as I remembered.
As with all later written series novels filling gaps the writer has the handicap that we know that our heroes will survive. It diminishes the suspence. But Kim Newman tries to utilise the new playground Japan in the AD universe to his fullest. And he succeeds. Much of the fun of this series is the discovery and the classification of the endless parade of everything vampire. I think I played a good game of this in the former novels and stories, but here Mr. Newman lost me.
I never was a big fan of J horror and got lost after a few pages. I spent as much time reading as checking the net. (I exaggerate of course, but this was a new and interesting experience and it helped to remember how annoying this can be .) Connoisseurs of japanese bloodsuckers, monsters and ghosts will have their fun.
On the european front Kim Newman still hasn't exhausted the villian gallery. In the spotlight is the Princess Casamassima, the character created by Henry James, as a vampire princess. At her side is Buffy's nemesis Drusilla, which portrayal is spot on. Geneviève has her hands full with these eccentric ladies.
For the first time there is a spotlight on the vampires life before Dracula comes out of the closet. Geneviève is living in Paris, studying medicine and working in the morgue. Which all ends abruptly after Dracula goes public in London. Longtime readers of the series have seen Geneviève in so many roles, always adapting to the times. And still Kim Newman finds a new angle. Remarkable after all these years.
With all the mayhem in Tokio and the bizarre characters this is a entertaining tale. It may not reach the heights of Dracula Cha Cha Cha, which I read a couple of times. Still for fans of the series this is a treat, casual readers may better start with the first books, though.