Author: Kim Newman
Written by award-winning novelist and movie critic Kim Newman, this is a brand-new edition, with additional never-before-seen novella, of the popular third installment of the Anno Dracula series.
Rome 1959 and Count Dracula is about to marry the Moldavian Princess Asa Vajda. Journalist Kate Reed flies into the city to visit the ailing Charles Beauregard and his vampire companion Geneviève. She finds herself caught up in the mystery of the Crimson Executioner who is bloodily dispatching vampire elders in the city. She is on his trail, as is the undead British secret agent, Bond.
Dracula Cha Cha Cha is the third book in Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series (which is set in a world were historical and literary figures reside and Count Dracula remains at large). This entry takes the characters (Charles Beauregard, Kate Reed, Geneviève, Penny Churchward) to Rome in 1959. Dracula is about to make his reappearance on the world stage, Charles Beauregard lies at Death’s door and a threat even worse than the bloodsucking vampires stalks the streets of Rome.
This is truly a return to form for Newman and the series. Whilst the Bloody Red Baron was a good story set in WW1, I thought it lacked the mystery and immediacy of Anno Dracula. Setting this book in Rome during a time when a masked vigilante is murdering Vampire elders left, right and centre brings back fond memories of Anno Dracula whilst providing a pretty entertaining (and supernatural) mystery in it’s own right…especially when Kate Reed gets caught up in the whole affair. For a reporter she’s really not the best at staying out of her own stories.
The reason everyone is in Rome is to witness the marriage of Count Dracula to Princess Asa Vajda. A move that many fear could lead to another world domination attempt from ole Vlad Tepis. Obviously this plays a big part in the story (though Dracula stays behind the scenes as much as he did in the previous entries) and includes a few twists and turns to the story that I truly didn’t see coming.
Once again I fear my lack of literary knowledge let me down and that I may have missed a good few of the references throughout the story. However it’s a testament to Newman’s writing that I never felt like I wasn’t getting the full story, just missing the odd homage here and there. This is helped by the inclusion of a few familiar (though never properly named due to copyright reasons) faces that I did know. Including The talented Mister Ripley (a calculating sociopath who has figured out that vampires are as easy, if not easier, to dupe then their human counterparts) and Hamish (James) Bond, who’s story goes in a completely unexpected, yet shockingly ingenious, direction.
The main theme of this story is life and death. Charles Beauregard lies dying whilst his immortal partner can do nothing. Characters start to question the cost of living forever as they watch everything they love either evole or die around them and wonder if they truly want to keep evolving with the changes when the cost seems too great. Whilst the action, intrigue and gore are more than enough to keep horror and mystery fans entertained, it’s these quieter and more thoughtful scenes that will stay you the longest.
Newman does it again. He’s taken his own story, filled it with characters and themes from a variety of different sources and yet somehow managed to create something original that somehow fills you with a sense of nostalgia.