THE BLOODY RED BARON by Kim Newman

THE BLOODY RED BARON

KIRKUS REVIEW

Vampire-battle aces let slip the bats of war in this superior sequel to Anno-Dracula (1993), itself a benchmark for vampire fiction. This time out, Newman moves ahead 30 years to focus on the European air war and stalemate in 1918. Driven from England, Graf von Dracula rises to commander-in-chief of the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary, fathers a species of German vampire aristocrats, and becomes ringmaster of Baron Manfred von Richthofen's Flying Circus, a group of night-flying vampire aces. Strange experiments involving the Red Baron take place at Chateau du Malinbois, and the British vampire squadron, Cundall's Condors, must discover just what the Germans are up to. Meanwhile, it's a weird bunch of doctors who experiment on the superpowerful batmen--H.G. Wells's vivisectionist Dr. Moreau, filmdom's nutty Dr. Caligari, and Professor Ten Brincken--and who convert the shape-shifters into living airplanes with 30-foot batwingspreads. Writing the life of the Baron is Edgar Allan Poe, who was himself turned into a vampire by his child bride, Virginia, and once suffered premature burial when found "dead'' in Baltimore. The Diogenes Club, England's Star Chamber led by Mycroft Holmes, sends Lt. Edwin Winthrop to gather intelligence with Cundall's Condors, and Winthrop finds himself falling for 50-year-old undead journalist Kate Reed. Among the attractions here are gripping battlefield scenes and dogfights; vast physiological detail about vampire breeds and bloodlines (vampires drink moonlight for strength); savagely intimate, even alluring descriptions of bloodlust; the ripping gallows humor of the British vampire aces; and memory-jogging walk-ons--including Jiggs from Faulkner's Pylon, Allard from The Shadow, Jules and Jim, Jake Barnes, Clifford Chatterley, Dr. Arrowsmith, Jed Leland from Citizen Kane, Bruno Satchel from The Blue Max, Mata Hari, Lola-Lola from The Blue Angel, and Cigarette from Under Two Flags. Superbly researched mud-and-blood: Newman's rich novel rises above genre, though delighted bat-readers will still cry, "Fangs for the memory!''

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 978-0671854515
Page count: 358pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1995




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