Dracula Cha Cha Cha – Anno Dracula * Kim Newman

A gothic romance set in Rome 1959, in which Bram Stoker’s fictional spawn meet Fellini’s paparazzi and a host of other hybrids who you may or may not recognise.

Rome 1959 and Count Dracula is about to marry the Moldavian Princess Asa Vajda. Journalist Kate Reed flies into the city to visit the ailing Charles Beauregard and his vampire companion Geneviève. She finds herself caught up in the mystery of the Crimson Executioner who is bloodily dispatching vampire elders in the city. She is on his trail, as is the undead British secret agent, Bond.

The setting is Rome in the last 1950s, where Genevieve, Kate and Penny once again find themselves crossing paths with the most famous vampire of them all: Dracula. The setting itself is without a doubt borrowed from ‘Roman Holiday’ and Federico Fellini films (although I see this one in shiny Technicolor, rather than black and white), but that faded glamour of Rome works so well as a backdrop with vampires.

The characters go about their business in front of ruins and ancient artefacts and it really feels they’re closer to the end of something than the start. But the glamour, no matter how faded, means this is a place which calls to people from all over the world. The novel references the classic Italian giallo (murder mystery movies which featured copious amounts of blood, and which were early precursors to the slasher genre), as it sees a journalist on the trail of the serial killer dubbed the Crimson Executioner who is bloodily dispatching vampire elders in Rome. As well as touching on the polizia genre also, the novel is full of references to classic Italian movies, as characters from well known movies make appearances, and entire chapters are also named after films such as The Bloody Pit of Horror, and Cat O Nine Tails. It is a feast for Italian genre fans, and all that is missing is its own Ennio Moriccone film score.

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