I’m a few months late in reviewing this title, as Johnny Alucard was published by Titan Books in September 2013. I’m just happy that circumstances have allowed me to read it finally, because it’s a great thrill ride through the excesses of our pop cult era, circa late ’60s-early’90s, as seen through a dripping veneer of blood. This is the fourth novel in Kim Newman’s subversive and dark alternate history series about the Prince of Darkness, Dracula, and Johnny Alucard delivers the darkness.
Here are the novels in the series, in order. I suggest you start with the first, because that will set the scene, both in terms of story line and theme, as well as the writer’s intent…and the way he has immense fun with vampires and popular culture.
Anno Dracula starts from the standpoint that the end of the original novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was a fiction; that Dracula defeated his band of enemies, led by Van Helsing, and subsequently took over England and the Empire, thereby conquering the world for his legions of the undead.
By the time of Johnny Alucard, Dracula is long gone, having died in 1959 during the events of Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Now it’s twenty years later, and the last person infected by Dracula, Johnny Pop–who has ingratiated himself with the cast and crew of 1979’s Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (a blood-soaked parallel to our Apocalypse Now) on location in Romania–emigrates to America…
Through a variety of sequences, some of which have been published before in a variety of publications, Newman here finally connects all the disparate puzzle pieces and shows how Johnny Pop becomes Johnny Alucard–and how he then conquers America and the world–through blood, sweat and tears, baby . . .perhaps more well known in the ’70s vernacular as sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Slowly, the last son of Dracula is consumed more and more by vampire lord’s eternal spirit, and then is reincarnated as the Pop Prince of Darkness, leaving the 21st century open and ripe for the evil of Dracula.
The real magic of this series is the clever wit: how Newman brings the vampires of literature, film and popular culture into his fictional mix. Count Iorga, the original Nosferatu, and many other vamps from literature and film show up here and in all the other novels, and it’s always a joy to see how Newman places them in his own world.
Here’s hoping Book Five in the series is published next year.