I just don’t see how the person who wrote the pretty darn good The Secrets of Drearcliff-Grange School could write this mess.
I only half read Anno Dracula. At page 152, I realized I was starting to hate all the characters, started skimming to see if/when things might improve. They do not; I got to the end, and never took a liking to anyone or anything going on.
It’s kinda too bad, since the premise isn’t bad. Basically, most of the crew of Stoker’s original Dracula series is back, in different forms (literally in a few cases, as some characters have become vampires). Queen Victoria as it turns out has remarried, to Dracula (it turns out this was something of a hostile takeover). As a result, vampirism is spreading, and even becoming fashionable. There’s also a Jack the Ripper style murderer on the loose, except he seems to only be targeting vampire prostitutes. I say ‘he’ because his identity is revealed to the reader fairly early on, although the characters don’t figure things out for much longer.
It seems that the main characters are non-Stoker, but neither of them stay relatable, and that’s areal necessity in a horror story (for me at least). There’s Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club, and Genevieve Dieudonne, a vampire older than Dracula, although she looks around 16. Basically they team up to try and stop Dracula, Charles out of loyalty and fear for his Queen (Victoria) and Genevieve because she feels Dracula gives vampires a bad name (which in this story, he does).
Again, as a general story, this isn’t bad. I liked that the ugliness behind vampirism was the focus here, and not typically romanticized, and all the references to Sherlock Holmes. That said, the ‘heroes’ and the love relationship they develop just ick me out; Charles and Genevieve hook up part way through which is a little icky because she’s got this superiority complex as a vampire while he prefers to stay human romanticizing things a little (if I wanted to read that, I’d go back to Twilight-which I also couldn’t finish), and he is a grown man who was about to marry his beloved dead wife’s sister (technically cousin, but they were raised as sisters), also ick- even though as a note at the end explains, this was not uncommon historically speaking.
The other main characters also have nothing to root for them for. Kate Reed goes vampire, which is disappointing, Dr John Seward goes crazy, Lord Ruthven is a minor character, Mina Harker’s appearance is brief, Arthur Holmewood now Lord Godalming is a vampire who causes trouble, and Van Helsing was killed before the novel starts. A good horror story needs someone to root for and be scared for, but that never seems to happen here.
There’s a lot I wanted to enjoy here, but because of the focus on ick of all sorts, I just couldn’t.