Ohh - doesn't the cover just grab you? The script of the title, the foggy background, the mysterious figure in a top hat? I was so excited to read Drood as part of Hachette Book Group's Early Bird Tour.
It opens with Victorian thriller novelist Wilkie Collins as the narrator.
"This true story shall be about my friend (or at least about the man who was once my friend) Charles Dickens and about the Staplehurst accident that took away his peace of mind, his health, and, some might whisper, his sanity."
It is 1865 and Charles Dickens is riding a train that crashes, killing nearly all aboard. As Dickens tries to help survivors, he notices a tall, thin, pale man with a 'skull like visage', wearing a heavy black cape, also among the survivors. But those the caped man is attending to seem to die despite or as a result of his attentions. This mysterious figure, who introduces himself as Drood, comes to haunt Dickens. Dickens insists that Collins accompany him into the underbelly of London, into the sewers where it is rumoured that Drood may live. It is also rumoured that Drood is responsible for many murders. But Collins begins to believe that Drood does not exist, that Dickens may himself may be Drood.
Dan Simmons' research is detailed and extensive. He has recreated the friendship and rivalry between these two esteemed authors, whose works are known and loved over 150 years later. The social life, dialogue and historical details of Victorian London are impeccably described. I love this time period and Simmons has done an amazing job bringing it to life - opium dens, lime pits, crypts, mesmerism and the slums of London. I found myself taking side trips to the computer to follow up on many pieces of knowledge presented in the novel.
The introduction of a supernatural aspect to the plot line was a bit disappointing and unexpected to me, but shouldn't have been- Simmons has a background as a sci fi writer. I was caught up in the idea of a serial killer living in Undertown and personally would have preferred the story to proceed strictly in that direction. The ending is somewhat ambiguous and ended and left me thinking of several possiblities. But all in all, I really enjoyed it. If you're looking for a historical novel written in the style of the time, you would be hard pressed to find a better (and bigger! 800 pages!) one.
You can listen to some really great audio excerpts here, here, here and here! Or listen to Dan read from Drood himself here.
Or check out some of the other stops on the tour at:
Bermuda Onion's Weblog, Write for a Reader, The Book Czar, A Circle of Books, The Tome Traveller, Books Ahoy, Allison's Attic, Linus's Blanket, Medieval Bookworm, Cafe of Dreams, The Sleepy Reader, My Friend Amy, Jenn's Bookshelf, A Blog of Books for You, Cheryl's Book Nook, Shooting Stars Mag, Savvy Verse & Wit, Best Book I Have Not Read, Bookish Ruth,Marta's Meanderings, Drey's Library, Booking Mama, A High and Hidden Place and Book:30. Whew!
Like what you've read or heard? You can enter my giveaway here to win a copy for yourself!