My wonderful wife got me a shiny new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and I've been avidly playing around with it. It's a really impressive bit of kit, and I never realised how much better a good e-reader is for reading novels than a tablet. As a consequence I've also signed up to Goodreads (you can see my profile here) and will be posting my book reviews here as well.
The first is below. Enjoy :)
Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Despite a slow and disappointing start, the latest of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series picks up speed and focus towards the end. More a series of novellas linked by a common thread, rather than a single novel, the book does suffer a little due to the format, and feels more disjointed that the other books in the series.
There is still a lot to enjoy here though. Newman has always been brilliant at rooting these tales in the places and times in which they take place, and late 20th Century America is no exception. It's always a joy to see how he twists common pop culture to fit his alternative history, and there is a great deal of fun to be had in spotting the various pop culture references, from the obvious (a fun and inspired chapter in which Francis Ford Coppola remakes Dracula as Apocalypse Now) to the obscure (I was particularly happy to see a very obscure Iain Banks reference in there).
Unlike the early books, this one is never really scary or creepy, though it is violent and shocking in places. It doesn't hold up to the excellence of the first two books in the series, but it's still worth reading as it brings Dracula's story full circle. The Anno Dracula series remains one of the most entertaining and well written of the modern vampire novels (and pokes a lot of affectionate fun at other famous vampire properties - Buffy comes in for a staking in this one!), and it's a shame the fourth in the series doesn't quite match the heights of earlier novels.
Despite that the writing is still of an very high standard, mimicking a whole range of styles. Great quotes abound, one of my favourites being on the subject of writing itself:
"Writing. It's a trivial pursuit, hardly worth the effort, inconsequential on any cosmic level. It's just blood and sweat and guts and bone hauled out of our bodies and fed through a typewriter to slosh all over the platen."
Still, the world of Anno Dracula is left in an interesting place by the end of the book and it would be interesting to see where it goes next (assuming Newman is going to carry on).
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