Sep 17 2013 8:30am

Fresh Meat: Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman

Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim NewmanAnno Dracula: Johnny Alucard (Anno Dracula 1976-1991) by Kim Newman is the fourth in an alt-history fantasy series following Dracula's fictional legacy, now including his son, would-be drug lord Johnny Alucard (available September 17, 2013).

The Anno Dracula series has always been a favorite of mine because of its radical reimagining of world history. What if Dracula had really existed? What if he hadn’t met his end at the hands of Van Helsing and Co.? Kim Newman has explored the impact this would have had on the Victorian, World War II, and mid-century eras in previous books: now he sets his sights on what could arguably be called the Cocaine Era of 1976-1991.

As 1976 dawns, the legendary Count Dracula is dead. One of his get, an undernourished young vampire named Ion Popescu, attaches himself to Francis Ford Coppola’s movie production of Dracula being filmed in Transylvania. A sympathetic Kate Reed, hired as consultant to the filming, befriends Ion and is warmed by his seemingly puppy-like determination to change his name to John and migrate to America. She muses:

Was this how Dracula had been when he first thought of moving to Great Britain, then the liveliest country in the world just as America was now? The Count had practised his English pronunciation in conversations with Jonathan [Harker], and memorised railway timetables, relishing the exotic names of St Pancras, King’s Cross and Euston. Had he rolled his anglicised name—Count DeVille—around his mouth, pleased with himself?

Of course, Dracula saw himself as a conqueror, the rightful ruler of all lands he rode over. Ion-John was more like the Irish and Italian emigrants who poured through Ellis Island at the beginning of the century, certain America was the land of opportunity and that each potato-picker or barber could become a self-made plutocrat.

Unfortunately for Kate, young John is not as innocent as she imagines him to be. The direct descendant of Dracula has big plans for himself and America and won’t let anyone get in his way. As he amasses a fortune by inventing and spreading a new drug called “drac,” he proves himself to be a vampire perfectly suited for his epoch. Whereas Count Dracula had ingratiated himself with monarchs and presidents, John (who soon changes his name again to Johnny) knows that the balance of power over the public imagination has switched to entertainers and acts accordingly. He runs with Andy Warhol (causing another holdover from previous Anno Dracula books, Penelope Churchward, to abandon The Factory,) snubs punk culture and embraces disco in New York City as he builds his empire. But not everything is smooth sailing, as he encounters sometimes subtle opposition:

The driver, a gaunt white man with a baggy military jacket, glanced instinctively at the rear-view mirror, expecting to lock eyes with his fare. Johnny saw surprise in the young man’s face as he took in the reflection of an empty hack. He twisted to look into the dark behind him and saw Johnny there, understanding at once what he had picked up.

“You have a problem?” Johnny asked.

After a moment, the taxi driver shrugged.

“Hell, no. A lot of guys won’t even take spooks, but I’ll take anyone. They all come out at night.”

Behind the driver’s gun-sight eyes, Johnny saw jungle twilight, purpled by napalm blossoms. He heard the reports of shots fired years ago. His nostrils stung with dead cordite.

Uncomfortable, he broke the connection.

When New York City becomes increasingly hostile to Johnny and his schemes, he heads west to Hollywood. There he crosses paths and figurative swords with one of the banes of his father-in darkness’ prior existence, the self-possessed Geneviève Dieudonné (whom I will unabashedly admit is my favorite character in the whole series.) Geneviève finds herself positioned, sometimes unwittingly, as Johnny’s foil in his ultimate scheme: to fully resurrect Dracula and usher in a new golden age of vampirism.

Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard is a rollicking ride through the pop culture of 1976-1991, as Kim Newman cleverly twists and turns the events of those fifteen years to fit his vampiric narrative. Not a single moment feels forced as he blends actual historical events (e.g. Andy Warhol’s assassination, the Iranian revolution) with fiction come to life (such as the Taxi Driver homage excerpted above.) Note: See an example of just how many such characters references there may be in this Wikepedia page for his previous novel, Dracula Cha Cha Cha.

The crack epidemic becomes the drac epidemic in this entirely plausible, wildly entertaining account of a vampire who, like any other criminal, seeks to exploit the American Dream for his own ends. But it isn’t just a celebration of criminality: it’s also an exploration of what it means to adapt to changing times, as personified by the vampire trio of Dieudonné, Reed, and Churchward. The vampire myth has always been useful for deconstructing the fears of any given age, and Kim Newman applies it to this hedonistic era with his trademark wit and style, giving us an insightful, if fantastical, look at the America of the time.

This sweepstakes has ended.

To enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of  Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

The Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/09/fresh-meat-anno-dracula-johnny-alucard-by-kim-newman beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) September 17, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 12:59 p.m. ET September 24, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Pam Howell
7. phowell13
Wow. This is such a different take on Dracula. I am really looking forward to reading this. Thanks.
nancy black
8. rojo13864
OMG!! A book to curl up with on a stormy night..lol...I love this series!!
Janet Martin
10. janmaus
These books have been so much FUN!!! I love them.
Melissa Darwin
11. turboterp
This sounds like a lot of fun! "Alucard" -- love it!
Kimberly Mayberry
12. MysticHuntress
I love Dracula books! I find this series to be quite interesting and intruging. I would love the chance to read this book and the whole series.
Kelley Tackett
15. tackettfamilyky
Check out the author's pic on Amazon:
Kim Newman - Like a Boss!
tom coady
17. tcodee
The first three books in the series were outstanding. I've been waiting for this book for a long time
22. Jane K
Love all things Dracula.
Anita Yancey
25. rosewood780
Sounds very interesting. I would love to read it. Thanks for this chance.
26. tony parsons
luv 2 read this book
28. MaryG
I've always been a fan of Dracula movies and books and would love to read this new book.
Joanne Mielczarski
30. jtmswim
I would love to read this book - please enter me.
31. Shannon Baas
Looks like a good book.
Gordon Bingham
35. gordonbingham
Have enjoyed the earier title in this series. looking forward to this one.
Sharon Shumway
37. Shellen
I want to read more of the EVIL Dracula. I love it when fiction and fantasy meet. I love scary.
Irene Menge
38. Goldenmane
Sounds like a scary, but fun, read. Would love to win.
Megan Mariner
43. luckeeblackcat
Oooh, Dracula! Looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one!
Sally Winkleblech
45. sallyw
Seems like a great mix. Will look for earlier books to catch up and hope I can win this one. I always liked anything Dracula.
Cindi Hoppes
47. CindiHoppes
What an interesting character and theme!
Many thanks, Cindi
kent w. smith
50. bodacious
If I win this copy I would have to purchase the previous ones in the series. Sounds like a win-win. Thank you.
Karen Terry
51. bblol65
I read Dracula a long time ago, when I was a teen. I loved it. I have always beeen a fan. I use to watch Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, and the Mummy.
Rosemary Krejsa
54. grandpa5
Reading about Dracula is perfect for the fall season. I can't wait to read it.
vicki wurgler
57. bison61
thanks for giveaway I'd love to read this
Donna Bruno
58. dlbawiles
No way! This could be very cool; I'd love to win a copy!
susan beamon
60. susanbeamon
This is a series I must have missed. Oh well, I can start with this book if I win it.
Melissa Keith
61. melly801
I LOVE the ANNO DRACULA series! A long time ago I found the first book in paperback. When I saw the other books come out recently in trade I was elated. I was shocked to see the series continued. This is the best sweeps ever! I'm crossing everything for a win!!
Phoenix Vie
62. Phoenix
I'm much more interested in Dracula than some of the newer renditions of vampires.
Jane Schwarz
63. Janeschwarz
Sounds like a great read. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
65. tony parsons
luv 2 read this 1
Linda Knowles
66. strigoivii
Eep! Another Anno Dracula?! I would LOVE to read it!!!!
george ashmore
69. gtashmore
I have waited years for a new Dracula novel from Kim--glad it has arrived
Jeffrey Malis
70. bravejam
Sounds unique, I'm intrigued! Always looking forward to something new. I appreciate the chance!
Kermit Crissey
71. kermitcrissey
Hope to win, need a new book to read and this sounds like the one!
Karen Koziczkowski
72. zoom38
An interesting take on the possibilities of History. But 4th in the series, where have I been? I'd have to buy the 1st 3 before reading this one. Like to read stories in the proper order, regarding series. Can really get a good HOLD of the subtleties of connection.
Heather Morris
73. morrish
Wow, what an interesting concept for a book series. I am going to have to check these out right away!!
Marisa Young
74. Risa
Looks interesting. Would like to win.
Kristen Faro
77. kfaro
Sounds very interesting. Will need to look up the other books and start reading. Love alt history.
Mike Rogers
78. Mycosyco
Looks great, I love the subject matter.
elaine fisher
79. elfette
thanks ... nice addition to my collection
Kimberly Hilbert
80. asketcher2
I love to read dracula books. I'll be on the look-out for this one.
Candice Hull
83. candicesweeps
I love reading all the different Dracula books. I love to see authors' different takes on the stories.
thank you for the giveaway
Angela Bartlett
84. bartlettpair
I have loved each of the Anno Dracula books. I am positive I'll love this one too! Thank yo for the giveaway.
kathy pease
88. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Marissa Buffett
89. marissarose123
looks like a great book! heres to hoping i win :D
Shauntea Crutcher
90. tiac32
Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the chance to win it.
Debra Kidle
93. lubelle
Wow, what an intriguing synopsis, I would love to read this!
LeAnn Knott
96. knottlady
Never read any of this series but looks like a good one to start with!!
Heather Cowley
98. choochoo
Is this going to make me lose sleep? Oh, okay. :-)
Wayne Lecoy
101. hotrodguy
I am entering your giveaway.
It would be great to win a copy of
Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman.
This looks like an interesting book.
Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!!!!
Charles Fraker
102. CharlieF
Cool book! Kim Newman writes good stuff. Sign me up.
103. spellsofdracula
If you are interested about Dracula's story, we are inviting you to our website to find out more about Dracula's life and view the list of protection kit against vampires, original spells and other more about Vampires. Please visit http://www.spellsofdracula.com
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