Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series continues as the last in a collection of nineteen short stories that span Newman’s career, going as far back as 1988. It’s a worthy addition to the series, something more than a setup for the next novel which is due out later this year; as always, the characters – both old and new – are fascinating, and the story is eerie and strangely charming.
This final story is the headline act, but those that precede it are of an incredibly high standard, making it the ultimate destination of a fantastic journey. The cover proclaims a cornucopia of famous characters, ranging from Jack the Ripper to Frankenstein’s Monster, and Newman doesn’t disappoint in telling their tales, either. The quality of the writing is high throughout, each offering a twisted take on the character involved, Newman’s quirky humour and love of film coming to the fore. He’s never smug with it, and ensures readers don’t need the encyclopaedic knowledge he has; his writing is warm and endearing, while still being able to pull off an unexpected and often delightfully macabre twist.
This collection is horror writing at its finest, providing something for all fans of the genre. It’s peppered with Newman’s usual wit and ability to produce a chilling moment, something he’s been able to do for many years, as this collection proves. For anyone new to Newman, there’s much to enjoy (although it would be best to leave this new Anno Dracula story until after reading the four books that precede it), while existing fans will find it to be everything they’d hoped for and more.
Being a greedy reviewer, this writer was hoping for extras such as those that were included in the first Anno Dracula book. There, Newman talked about his writing processes and inspirations, much like a director’s commentary on a film, and it would have been a joy to see that here. Newman does offer a few introductions, however, which are all interesting.
As a short story collection, though, this is possibly as good as it gets. Thoughtful, unsettling and downright entertaining from start to finish, showcasing Newman as an author who has been writing superb fiction for decades, one that can raise a wry smile even while he sets spines chilling.
ANNO DRACULA 1899 AND OTHER STORIES / AUTHOR: KIM NEWMAN / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW