Thursday, 9 January 2014
Anno Dracula 1976-1991 Johnny Alucard by Kim Newman
For a book that has Dracula in the title, one can expect nothing less than it beginning in Transylvania. It's so expected it reeks of cliché.
The next line:
These forests and mountains were homeland to the dead that walked.
This line does sound cool, and for die-hard vampire fans, I suspect the author's giving them exactly what they want. That's it for paragraph one. The next paragraph is where it gets mildly interesting, so at least we can say the author wastes no time.
The boy had no fear of vampires. Nor of the Germans and the Russians. Nothing more could be done to him.
Then back story enters the equation and I begin to feel my attention wandering to the next book on my list to review. It's a fine line between too much back story and too much forward narrative. Too much forward narrative (especially the kind that rushes forward without explanation) and readers might be confused without context or grow bored not caring about the characters they know nothing about. Too much back story (especially the kind without conflict) and the story stalls and the reader gets bored without having the context of a forward narrative - you know, what is at stake. It's a fine line that needs to be balanced very tenderly in the beginning of a novel. This is the art of writing. Personally, in the first few pages of a book, I'd go with forward narrative with back story inserted sparingly on a need-to-know basis, as forward narrative is the story.
A treeline at dusk.
So the author is setting up setting again in an attempt to begin by establishing mood first. In horror novels this is a good idea, I mean to establish mood early, but certainly not at the expense of conflict and story, which is where hooks lie in waiting.
First thing said:
"You are wrong, my son."
This gets 2.5 stars on the strength that Dracula is in the title and it opens in Transylvania. But I can't help feel I'm being generous. I'm sure Rudy will make up for it in some other review.
Verdict: Pass (barely)