Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
|Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty|
|Reviewer: Gina Garnett|
|Summary: A fantastic back-to-basics of the vampire novel with a twist, this is a seamless blend of fantasy, history and present day reality.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 338||Date: June 2013|
|Publisher: Arrow Books|
|External links: Author's website|
In a world where vampires are the new romantic heroes, Stoker’s Manuscript is a bit of a Godsend. I, for one, am absolutely delighted to find some good old fashioned evil as sin, night dwelling, blood guzzling, crucifix hating Romanian villains. Of course, this means sacrificing sexiness, romance and attractively sulking out of a window but since what we get in exchange is stunning views of Transylvania, thought-through biology (for want of a better word) of the creatures and stakes that are elevated beyond one person, I say sharpen up the spike pit.
When I say old fashioned, I’m not talking about the Buffy generation of vampires I grew up on. We are going back to if not the first, then certainly the first famous Child of the Night - the Impaler himself, Dracula. The original manuscript, in fact. Joseph Barkeley, an authenticator and purveyor of antique and rare books and manuscripts is approached by a mysterious buyer who wishes him to obtain the manuscript which, for those of you who are familiar with the history of the novel, predates the fire at the publication house which wiped out the first editions. Despite the misgivings of his friends and brother, Joseph accepts the offer to return to his native Romania with the book if it’s real. He discovers, however, that it is not the manuscript itself that is of interest but the secrets that may be contained within that his client is after and the purchase sets in motion events that could result in the destruction of humanity.
The concept is stunning. We travel with Joseph as he visits his home country for the first time since unhappy childhood. A chance, he believes, to make a lucrative sale and visit his mother’s grave. He tries not to laugh at his friend Mara when she insists that vampires are real and tries to explain them to him. He endures his brother Bernhardt’s (a priest) objections that this is a test sent by the lord God and he stops listening to his friend Doug as soon as he has acquired the know-how on Swiss bank transfers. What’s waiting for him in the Carpathian mountains, however, will change his life forever. It’s well executed, too. Joseph is a good character and the more you read of him, the more you get to know him and a real camaraderie develops between you and him.
The description of the landscape and the locations is second only to actually being there and the details of the history – both of Stoker and the writing of the novel and the medieval family of nobility the villains are based on – is such that one could quite easily believe that the areas where licence has been taken for the sake of the story are all true too.
Sometimes quite gruesome, I was surprised to find the novel ever so slightly dry in places with the action never quite dragging you frightened to the edge of your seat, but that does fit in with Joseph’s methodical and minutia-loving nature. The Christian aspects, too, are never overwhelming, coming across more as the characters’ beliefs than as a sermon. Overall, a really interesting read and I’m just as impressed by the staggering amount of effort that went into research as I am with the actual novel itself.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty at Amazon.com.
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