12 December 2011

Drood by Dan Simmons

Drood -- Four Stars

I picked this up at Borders when they were having their final farewell. I do enjoy reading Dickens' novels, like most literary people, so I was attracted to this book because of that aspect. I was not prepared for a book that was such an in depth telling.

The story starts with the Staplehurst accident on 9 of June 1865. Charles Dickens was a passenger along with his pretty, young mistress when the train derailed and fell into a ravine. When Dickens starts to help the wounded and dying, he sees a fantastic man in a theatre cape. His name is Drood and he haunts the rest of the story.

The book is written in a fashion of a memoir, the narrator being a friend and contemporary of Dickens, one Wilkie Collins. He starts as a side character to entire Drood affair, but all too soon finds himself wrapped in the centre of a world of mesmerism (hypnosis) and  opium. The novel covers several years, from 1865 to Dickens' death in 1870. While we watch Dickens' age we also watch the narrator, Mr Collins, fall into his own madness.

I have to give Dan Simmons applause. He wrote a novel in the modern age using language that was common to the Victorian English age. No mean feat, let me assure you. Drood is also the first Simmons novel I have ever read and was notably impressed. I was also pleased by the level of research that went into the novel. Wilkie Collins had his share of success in the 1800's, but I had never heard of him and thought the character pure fiction. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon his most famous novel, The Moonstone, in a book shop the other day.

While a mammoth novel of over nine-hundred pages, it was well worth the read. I am so glad I picked it up that day.

1 comment:

  1. re: book review request by award-winning author

    Dear Quill and Ink:

    I'm an award-winning author with a new book of fiction out this fall. Ugly To Start With is a series of thirteen interrelated stories about childhood published by West Virginia University Press.

    Can I interest you in reviewing it?

    If you write me back at johnmcummings@aol.com, I can email you a PDF of my book. If you require a bound copy, please ask, and I will forward your reply to my publisher. Or you can write directly to Abby Freeland at:


    My publisher, I should add, can also offer your readers a free excerpt of my book through a link from your blog to my publisher's website:

    Here’s what Jacob Appel, celebrated author of
    Dyads and The Vermin Episode, says about my new collection: "In Ugly to Start With, set in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Cummings tackles the challenges of boyhood adventure and family conflict in a taut, crystalline style that captures the triumphs and tribulations of small-town life. He has a gift for transcending the particular experiences to his characters to capture the universal truths of human affection and suffering--emotional truths that the members of his audience will recognize from their own experiences of childhood and adolescence.”

    My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

    I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY.

    For more information about me, please visit:

    Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


    John Michael Cummings