Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman
(Pocket Books, £6.99, 291 pages, paperback; ISBN 0-671-02209-1; published 8 May 2001.)
Why isn't Kim Newman better known? Why isn't Kim Newman a literary megastar of Stephen King proportions? Why do people read Anne Rice's turgid, overwrought vampire novels when they could be revelling in Kim Newman's better written, more touching, funnier and cleverer alternate versions of every vampire mythos there is?
Enough questions, here's a declarative statement: you should read Kim Newman's Dracula Cha Cha Cha. The only acceptable excuse for not reading it is that you're already reading the other books in the sequence, either Anno Dracula or Andy Warhol's Dracula.
What happens? Look, just take my word for it, this is What's that? You won't even look at a book until you know what's in it? Sigh. Okay.
It's 1959, and in Italy - Rome, to be precise - everyone is gathering for Dracula's forthcoming umpteenth wedding; a conjugal affair that just might return him to his past glories.
But there is an unwelcome guest among the hordes of the undead: in a bizarre turning of the tables a 'warm' man known only as the Silver Executioner is vigorously thinning the thickening ranks of vampire elders arriving in Rome for the wedding.
Kim Newman's books are smart, hip and so stuffed full of references they'll give you a nosebleed. Dracula Cha Cha Cha is gigantic fun to read thanks partly to a slick, streamlined story well lit from behind with a twinkling history.
But it's also the knowing winks towards our own myths, history and culture (pop and high) that will have you racking your brains trying to remember obscure references you vaguely recall from late night movie sessions or nodding sagely at others' ignorance (the Bibliography at the end gives the nod to more books than my Masters thesis did).
If it came with a spot-the-reference score sheet then Dracula Cha Cha Cha might make an excellent party game. As it is, alternative history doesn't come much better than this.
I'm off to get a copy of Anno Dracula, the first book in the sequence.
Review by Stuart Carter.
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© Stuart Carter 25 August 2001