Time for a vampire showdown. All of the plotting, secret meetings, and questioning of loyalties culminates in the final installment of Anno Dracula. The plot has been building to this moment, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting Dracula’s arrival. But along the way, the other characters have made for such an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Though it has existed on the backdrop, we have felt Dracula’s presence throughout the series while the other characters have driven the action. Kim Newman has created powerful, clever, and amusing personages of Victorian London. And each one is always ready for a fight.
Along the journey, this series has raised questions about the meaning and weight of evil. While several characters may be regarded as evil, some characters are seemingly worse than others. We have to decide which evil is greater and which team we are rooting for. Good and evil are also complicated in this story, because we are in a world of murderous vampires and can never really be too sure who to trust. The series also makes us think about loyalty to a particular person or cause and the power of loyalty in driving an individual’s behavior.
Anno Dracula also contains really impressive girl power. Woman are the driving force in the story, whether for good or for evil. Even though Dracula sits on the throne, his physical absence from daily and nightly activity allows for the women behind the scenes to move the plot forward. The fate of both the British people and un-dead lies in the hands and fangs of these women. Their stealth, manipulation, and intuition drive their behavior. Most of the men of the series are rather oafish, impractical, or ineffectual. Power to the women who concoct the plans, fight the good battles, and save the people.
I continue to appreciate the amusing smaller details in the final installment that help to make it perfectly gothic with a twist of humor. I love the creepy vampire water babies that are introduced in this issue. They are such devilish little monsters. This issue has several monstrous characters on the attack as the final efforts for power surge ahead. In different shapes, sizes, and colors, they are the perfect amalgamation of diverse monstrosity. The exaggerated violence and gore also continue, making for an exciting culmination to the series.
Overall, the series is genre bending. It is a fun monster story that embraces and twists the Victorian Gothic to make for humorous devastation in a world run by vampires. Kim Newman brilliantly brings together recognizable characters of Victorian literature and creates a new London universe for them to romp around in. Paul McCaffrey’s art is the perfect dramatization of Newman’s vision. He effectively creates gothic humor amid chaos and violence. The series is an enjoyable ride and a testament to the ways that gothic and monster fiction can be re-imagined, recreated, and freshly configured to keep readers on the edge of their seat and enjoying the ride.