Tag: Kim Newman

Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

An Atomic Moo Book Review


I’ve been trying to write this review for about a week now, but I just keep tripping over my own life. Actually, I think I owe Titan an apology. They’ve sent me a stack of books to read and review, but personal, “my life’s a mess” stuff has kind of kept me occupied. However, things are getting better, and (as hard as it may be) I’m working to focus more on this site and exploring being a creative. Which means that hopefully, I’ll also get back my reading time. Hopefully.

Anyways, now out through Titan Books is a pretty niffty (yeah, “niffty”) collection of short stories by Kim Newman. This collection of short stories takes readers through the in and outs of 19th century macabre, old Hollywood, and even the life and times of a Martian movie star (I kind of especially dug that one). Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories is a collection of twenty-one short stories by a master story teller. Newman’s versatility as a writer is on full display here as he effortlessly switches gears from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s in such a way that totally engulfs the reader. Which is pretty damn amazing (for the books of his I’ve read) how he can perfectly capture the tone of the selected era when he writes. I think what enjoyed most about these books though was he hit (on almost every story) my kind of geeky fandom. I love old horror films, and when he wrote about American International Pictures being cursed by Vincent Price, or “Jack the Ripper” murder mystery based on the fall of EC’s Comics (not called EC comics in the story, but totally EC), I was digging it! Even his short stories that dealt with classic horror tales like Jekyll and Hyde, or a brilliant take on the Invisible Man, were incredibly entertaining to me. There’s not a lot of people I think I can go to (in my small circle of friends) and discuss my love of old Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing flicks, or how I have Treasure of the Sierra Madres and Casablanca pretty much memorized (not that there’s a lot/any of Bogart in this book, just saying…), but I think Newman would get it, and that’s kind of cool getting some of that fandom coming back at me through his short stories.

I honestly don’t have a lot of criticism for this book. Well, maybe that Newman’s enthusiasm for fandom can go extremely deep and it is possible to get lost in the references and parodies, but that only if you’re kind of in the know. For any casual reader, this a collection of really fun stories, and I highly recommend it. Also, go rent the Raven, and I hope you dig Price, Karloff, and Lorre and their best(?). Yeah, matter of opinion, but check it out all the same!

Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories is available in bookstores now, or you can get your copy online at Titan Books!

Cheers!

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

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An Atomic Moo Book Review of Kim Newman’s New Novel!

Y’know, if I were going to read just one book about weird little English girls, this would be the one. Wait. I did read a book about weird little girls! And this was the one! Funny how that worked out… Anyways, It’s time to break out the whiskey, settle in, and tell you about Titan Books’s new novel: The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School! This is a highly entertaining new novel by a master of weird tales, Kim Newman! A dark, haunting, and (often) humorous tale of a young girl who can float (Not fly. Float), and the her even more bizarre class mates. Here’s the synopsis:

A week after her mother found her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is delivered to her new school, Drearcliff Grange in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular boarding school, Amy learns that Drearcliff girls are special, the daughters of criminal masterminds, outlaw scientists and master magicians. Several of the pupils also have special gifts like Amy’s, and when one of the girls in her dormitory is abducted by a mysterious group in black hoods, Amy forms a secret, super powered society called the Moth Club to rescue their friend. They soon discover that the Hooded Conspiracy runs through the school, and it’s up to the Moth Club to get to the heart of it.

Yeah, it’s a book about supernatural young girls, and their weird school, but I wouldn’t say this another “young adults” fantasy book aimed at preteens. Not that I did, or you would either. Wow, this is good whiskey. Anyways, I’m just saying this isn’t a kids book. Well, not in the way you would think of (for example) the Harry Potter novels. Drearcliff can certainly be enjoyed by the young, but it has a bizarre, and weirdly dark, aspect to its supernatural theme that will entertain adults as well. Newman did an amazing job of crafting a world of super powers, and then showing readers that world through the eyes of a shy, and some what eccentric, young girl. The characters presented are darkly entertaining (if not terrifying) and even the main threat to Amy Thomsett, and her friends, is brilliantly told through Newman’s uniquely dour (and kind of disturbing) style. All in all, this is an excellent read and would be best read over the course of a cold winter break!

The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School is available now at all major book stores, or you can get your copy online at titanbooks.com!

Atomic Moo Book Review of Kim Newman’s Life’s Lottery!

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I often ponder over the many mistakes I’ve made in my short(-ish) life. It would be very nice to have the power to “flip” back a few pages and maybe choose to go to art school instead of getting that journalism degree. Or, maybe go back further and choose to not stick my hand past the zoo fence so as to try and feed the wild monkeys a little piece of bread. Yup. Regrets. I’ve had a few… However; sometimes the choices we make can lead to some cool stuff. Like, when Chudd and I choose to start our own blog which (after awhile) led to me writing a review for possibly the best book I’ve read all year! A book, who’s entire premise, are the choices you/me (the reader) make.

Titan Books has recently re-released Kim Newman’s 1999 dark adult role-playing novel, Life’s Lottery! It is a very big Choose your own adventure story. In Life’s Lottery you are English born Keith Oliver Marion, and from the moment of birth, Newman takes you through a life while presenting choices that can vastly change the stories end. Sometimes the choices are innocuous, but they’re results can put you in jail, have you stabbed to death, or put you in the middle of something very bizarre. It’s incredible how many times you can go back to a key point, or even a not so key point, and then be led to a different life. Newman’s story shows us that things like conformity, will, or even dumb stupid luck, can have profound effects on our present selves.

Of course being a Kim Newman novel it is also filled with an endless stream of pop-culture references. There’s even an appendix at the back of the book for each throw back featured in each section. Pretty cool for us pop-culture junkies who grew up with the Batman t.v. show and Betamax video players. All the same though, it’s Newman’s writing that pulls you deeper into the story. The entire book (I think) is written in a 2nd person progressive. Which is a unique and interesting way for someone to read a narrative and then get to decide on the path the future narrative will take. Overall, I had fun with this book, and it’s also the reason why I’m way behind on many of the other books I want to read and review. Life’s Lottery is dark and haunting, but one in which you will want to read again for a whole new story!

Life’s Lottery is available at all major book sellers or you can get your copy on line at Titanbooks.com!

Atomic Moo Book Review of Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard!

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Hello El Moochadores! Now out through Titan books is the newest addition (in over a decade) to the Anno Dracula series by English author, Kim Newman. Johnny Alucard (get it? C’mon! It’s easy… Alucard? Get it?) continues the question of “What if Dracula had survived his encounters with Bram Stoker’s Dr. John Seward and enslaved Victorian England?” Newman then goes on to create a world influenced by Dracula and changed by the, now very public, Vampires he has created. Here’s the books synopsis:

Fallen from grace and driven from the British Empire in previous installments, Dracula seems long gone. A relic of the past. Yet, when vampire boy Johnny Alucard descends upon America, stalking the streets of New York and Hollywood, haunting the lives of the rich and famous, from Sid and Nancy to Andy Warhol,Orson Welles, and Francis Ford Coppola, sinking his fangs ever deeper into the zeitgeist of 1980s America, it seems the past might not be dead after all.

For me; Johnny Alucard felt more like a collection of short stories involving the characters from previous Anno Dracula books (in truth I’ve only read one other: Dracula Cha Cha Cha). Not that that’s a bad thing, and the books conclusion (I won’t spoil it) tied everything together very well. Some advice though: If this is your first time reading an Anno Dracula novel: Don’t try and get all the references. Newman tells a story about a whole world changed by the emergence of Dracula, and the “coming out” of vampires, and so his books are packed with pop-culture and historical references. Sometimes if feels like he’s writing stories just for the film and history majors of the world. The first time I read a Anno Dracula I thought I had to stop and read up on names dropped, movie callbacks, and subtle character changes, to enjoy the book. Not true. This time around I just jumped in and started reading. If I got the reference, groovy! If not, oh damn well. On the plus side though, I do think this book is slightly less packed with references than the previous Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Maybe. Still it was fun to read about things from my generation. Gordon Gekko, Princess Leia, and even The Dude pop up in small ways through out the story.

This was a fun book, and though I’m really not into vampire novels, I would recommend Johnny Alucard for both it’s historical (yeah it has some) and entertainment value! Johnny Alucard is now in bookstores or you can get your copy online at Titan Books Website!

Atomic Moo Book Review of Jago!!!

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Good evening El Moochadores! Last March, Titan Books re-released the thrilling horror novel, Jago, written by Kim Newman.Kim_Newman_350 It’s a fantastic novel where a major supernatural event begins in a small English village and grows to apocalyptic proportions. Here’s the synopsis:

Paul, a young academic composing a thesis about the end of the world, and his girlfriend Hazel, a potter, have come to the tiny English village of Alder for the summer. Their idea of a rural retreat gradually sours as the laws of nature begin to break down around them. The village, swollen by an annual rock festival of cataclysmic proportions, prepares to reap a harvest of horror.

I loved this book. Honestly, this was one of the best horror novels I’ve read in a long time. Newman’s ability to craft a maddeningly suspenseful story ranks right up there with the likes of Stephen King and Clive Barker. Originally published in 19910881848689 and set in that era, (I love how one of the opening paragraphs is Paul hammering out his thesis on a typewriter – which (for the kids) was like a loud computer with no monitor), Jago reminded me of being a young man and discovering horror stories for the first time.

In Jago, Newman, created a monster that can make other monsters. Worst than that; he can make your monsters real. Anthony William Jago was an amazing and effective villain while the stories protagonist were so fun and interesting that I felt invested in their outcome. Newman’s brand of horror and ability to create dynamic characters is exactly why I like books more that movies!

There isn’t much I didn’t like about the novel, but some of the book did seem a little over my head. For example, though I thought he was an excellent character, I didn’t really understand the purpose of Badmouth Ben. I also felt some of the other character resolutions (at the end) were either a little weak or just entirely absent, but otherwise this is a book you should go buy (or download) as soon as possible. I think one of the best things I can say about Jago is: I was actually kind of bummed out that it ended. Fortunately, this re-release also includes three short stories, by Newman, using characters from the original novel. While reading Jago, I became fond of the Gilpin brothers and was glad to read the short story, Ratting, at the end of the book.

You can get your own copy of Jago at the Titan Books website or it’s out in book stores now. Also, if you’re already a fan of the novel, or have some insights into characters like Badmouth Ben, please let me know in the comments section below! I really need to talk with other fans about this book!

Atomic Moo Book Review!

Dracula Cha Cha Cha

Vampires have infested our pop-culture for decades now. They started out as the classy, yet ghoulish, fiend written by Stoker one hundred and fifteen years-ago, and (since then) have somehow transformed into the glittering pretty people of pre-teen blockbusters. Fortunately it does not end there and we can still get a vampire story that doesn’t involve hundred year-old dead guys knocking up there teenage girl friend, then biting the baby out of her belly.

Dracula Cha Cha Cha is the third book of the Anno Dracula series, a trilogy by author Kim Newman, that brings the mythos of the bloodsucker back around to where it began; with Count Dracula. Not that the Count is in the book all that much, he makes a brief appearance, but I don’t want to spoil anything and we’re not quite there yet anyways. The story takes place in 1959 and is centered on a vampire reporter, Katharine Reed. Reed, an Irishwoman, has been at odds with the Count since she turned Vampire in the late 19th century and has flown to Rome to report on Dracula’s recently announced wedding to the Princess Asa Vajda. Unfortunately for Kate Reed, the upcoming nuptials are not all that is going on in Rome when she arrives. Her former friend and long-time rival is managing Dracula’s wedding; a familiar English spy is chasing down a mad man and his white cat; and on top of all that, there’s a laughing lunatic in red tights killing all the vampire elders arriving in Rome. Oh yeah, and Rome’s oldest goddess maybe kicking around somewhere too.

I don’t know how the vampire enthusiast will feel about Dracula Cha Cha Cha, but it is a walking history lesson for fans of late ’50’s era pop-culture. Sometimes, almost to a fault. I think it was about when the blue spandex wearing Kent and the Addams family made their appearances that I lost interest in the main story and instead treated the book like a literate “where’s Waldo” by trying to spot the next movie star or film reference. However this barrage of movie and historical references does not mean it’s a bad book. I enjoyed Newman’s humor and his take on vampires. There was a quixotic weirdness to the main characters adventures that made reading the book fun, but I feel the books summation was murky (probably not the best word, but the closest to how I felt about the last few chapters of the book) and felt a little rushed. Overall, I say give it a read and enjoy the book for it’s weird quirkiness and movie star surprises.

You can get a copy of Dracula Cha Cha Cha at Titan Books or click the link on the Atomic Moo Sidebar and purchase a copy through Amazon.com.

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