Posts tagged Seth Grahame-Smith
Seth Grahame-Smith may have brought genre mashups to the literary forefront with his books Pride and Prejudice Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but author Kim Newman already pioneered the concept during the 1990s with his Anno Dracula series. Newman’s novels take place a unique alternate world where humans and vampires openly co-exist. Both species are rendered by Newman through an entertaining blend of real life figures and fictional characters, including Winston Churchill, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother). In the second book of his series The Bloody Red Baron, the author tells a fast-paced tale filled with action, espionage, and intrigue.
Since Newman’s publisher Titan Books recently released a new edition of it, I had the chance to pick it up. I didn’t read Newman’s first book, so I was thrilled that The Bloody Red Baron contains enough on the characters and their relationships to keep you from feeling lost.
The Bloody Red Baron takes place during the thick of World War I, where humans and vampires are fighting alongside one another. Graf von Dracula is in league with the Germans, commanding Kaiser Wilhelm’s troops. Newman primarily concentrates on Charles Beauregard, an aging member of the British Secret Service and his young protégé Edwin Winthrop. With help from Kate Reed, a vampire newspaper reporter, the trio works feverishly to uncover details behind a secret German operation that could turn the tide of the war.
Newman doesn’t just focus on the Brits though; he also takes you behind German lines so that you can understand the complex men fighting on the other side like Manfred von Richthofen (aka The Red Baron). You still get the sense that Dracula is evil, but Newman humanizes the Germans over the course of The Bloody Red Baron, getting you to sympathize with them even during the book’s climactic confrontation.
The thorough attention to detail that Newman exercises when crafting his narrative is rewarding to the reader because it allows you to immerse yourself in his novel. Vampires truly are their own fully developed species with different habits, abilities, and bloodlines. However, Newman’s complex web of personalities and shifting perspective is a double-edged sword. At times, it can be a bit difficult to mentally organize of all the characters and during certain action scenes it’s hard to tell who is talking. Thankfully these stumbling blocks don’t come up often.
Stylistically, Newman’s grim examination of World War I is heavily influenced by Erich Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Part I of Newman’s book even shares a title with it. Battle scenes in the air and on the ground also contain similar horrific imagery. Newman keeps things lighter outside of battle though, with amusing vampire terminology and dry British wit. A personal favorite of his unique language involves the label of “warm” to describe humans and “cold” to depict vampires.
Even at almost 400 pages, The Bloody Red Baron is a quick read, due to its riveting mixture of action and espionage. Sometimes you forget the book is about war, because you get so wrapped up in the sneaky intelligence gathering. Titan’s latest edition of the book contains Newman’s novella Vampire Romance, which takes place after World War I. While much different in tone, Newman’s short story is fun murder mystery reminiscent of the film Clue. Vampire lovers, forget Twilight. Read the Anno Dracula series instead.
The Bloody Red Baron is available now in stores and online at www.titanbooks.com.