Anno Dracula (Anno Dracula, #1)Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really, really wanted to like this book. I got so giddy when I read the description and after the superbly exciting first chapter. What’s not to love? I adore Dracula, I’m mad for Jack the Ripper, and ga-ga for Victorian shit. This should have been a match made in heaven.

I so appreciate what the author was trying to do. But, in all honesty, it was a once-in-a-lifetime idea for a book that was horrendously executed.

There were too many allusions to things and people that even I, a Victorianophile, did not get, and that really muddied up the narrative. Muddy… that’s a good way to describe the whole thing, really. If you’re going to have this wild mix of characters and references, the writing and the execution needs to be razor sharp. I found several grammatical errors that were also very distracting. There was just SO MUCH going on. It’s hard to decide what to shave off, but for the sake of storytelling, I think we could have done without some of the subplots, like the Chinese vampire thing that never went anywhere.

I honestly had no feeling whatsoever for Charles’s character. I couldn’t picture him. He was a faceless Slenderman-looking person in my mind. I get that there was supposed to be some character building with his dead wife and Penelope and stuff, but it just slipped through the tangle and felt meaningless. I wanted so badly to like Genevieve, but again, maybe because I didn’t get the Changdanac reference, I had a hard time connecting. The scenes where she vamps out and fights are pretty cool, because I like a tough female character, and I also thought the scene between her and Lily was very touching, but I just… couldn’t catch hold. She was easier to picture and relate to than Charles, but not by much. So I could not give any less of a shit that they got together. Their sex scene was stilted and weird and I didn’t get what they saw in each other, probably because I didn’t feel them as characters.

There are these great flashes of brilliance, like the final scene where they confront Dracula. I mean, what an image — a blood-bloated Dracula with Queen Victoria on a leash at his side? The Carpathian guards were some very interesting characters, and the whole “Dr. Seward as Jack the Ripper” thread was totally golden. Loved the way he grew too attached to Mary Jane Kelley/Lucy. But it’s like the main characters just ruined the book.

Too many characters, too much focus on the wrong things, not enough character development, and, in some cases, lazy and repetitious writing. Such a great idea… I kind of want to just say, “Can you try again?” Or someone make this into a movie and snip out the bad parts…

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