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The Bloody Red Baron,
This review is from: Anno Dracula - The Bloody Red Baron (Anno Dracula 2) (Paperback)
The Bloody Red Baron continues Kim Newman's alternate history series, following thirty years after the events of Anno Dracula. The reader is transported across the Channel to France and the trenches of the First World War, with Dracula now ruling the German armies. Set in 1918, just before the final push, the battle for supremacy of the air takes centre stage, with the Allied aces taking on Jagdgeschwader 1, Mannfred von Richthofen's `Flying Circus'.
Fans of the first book in the series will be glad to know that all of the themes - including the humour and wit, the mix of historical fiction and satire - are still present in this sequel. Several characters from Anno Dracula reappear, with Kate Reed playing a fairly major role, but Newman draws in an expansive new character set, with the same mix of fictional alongside the historical. This occasionally leads to an overabundance of references, but doesn't detract from the story. The Bloody Red Baron, is a darker, more harrowing tale than the first in the series, a necessity in part because of the setting. The author doesn't make light of the war, and the depictions hold their own against more traditional historical fictions which are set during the period. The sections in the trenches, in particular, are quite gruesome and can be difficult to read but it is a successful depiction of the trials of war.
Contained within this new edition is also the novella, Anno Dracula 1923: Vampire Romance, which features Geneviève Dieudonné, and pays homage to the `whodunnit' murder mystery. It is a relief after the bloody tale of the war in the main story, to read a much lighter, humorous tale, and this is a very funny story with a particularly British humour. Set in Mildew Manor, an isolated mansion in the Lake District, it is a classic take on the locked room murder.
The two stories in this book are a wonderful continuance of the Anno Dracula world, and while The Bloody Red Baron is slightly more difficult to read than the original novel, it is still as enjoyable. The novella too is expertly delivered, with verve and humour that contrasts to the earlier story, and a plot that will keep readers guessing. Together, the books are a welcome addition to Kim Newman's alternate history, creating additional colouring and background to his already excellent vampire-filled world.