Stoker’s Wilde – Steven Hopstaken & Melissa Prusi
Reviewed By Brian Bogart
You know, I have to admit: I was a little skeptical when I first saw the premise of this. I chuckled, shook my head and immediately told my wife about it. She even warned me to not get my hopes up, something about grains of salt (I have a husbandly disorder where I only catch half of what she says, especially with a book in my hand).
Here’s the first bit from the ARC I received from Flame Tree Press:
Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality…
I mean, that’s a pretty cool premise. I’m a sucker for Stoker and a fan of Wilde, too. You know, that whole Victorian horror thing. I always enjoy homages and nods to the classics. How would I enjoy these two unlikely partners teaming up against a cult of vampires? Can this actually work? I have been burned before- like, a hell of a lot when it comes to reading. But you know what cured me of that skepticism?
I started reading it.
Told in the form of various documents, diary entries and other correspondences (a la Dracula), “Stoker’s Wilde” was in confident and well-researched hands. Not afraid to have fun with the premise, and linking various facts and inspirations from Stoker and Wilde’s own personal histories together, this duo have created something very unique and highly entertaining.
Fans of the titular authors will find something to love here. And these two men are very different individuals. The meat of this novel is the push and pull of their characters, colliding and playing off one another as the hunt begins and the horror escalates. Reluctant partners through and through, they can’t break their connection, try as they might. Which is a treat for us readers.
The best part (besides the characterization) and probably what benefits it the most: the book doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Hopstaken and Prusi have done a fair bit of research, and it shows in this book.
How do you make an engrossing penny dreadful?
Add the sly wit of Wilde, mix it with the assured craftsmanship of Stoker. Pepper with a touch of the supernatural and pour in a perfect dose of werewolves, vampires and a dash of The Order of the Golden Dawn for flavour.
It evokes the adventurous vibe of older, classic tales. It is an obvious labour of love, seamlessly weaving fiction and history together, with references to the authors’ famous writing. It works so much better than I expected.
A well-crafted read, as unique as the protagonists themselves.
Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The fight will take them through dark forests in Ireland, the upper-class London theater world and Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.
Brian Bogart is an American author of dark fiction and horror/fantasy. He has written stories most of his life and has been a fan of the genre since the age of seven. His approach to storytelling is a tad macabre at times but tries to capture the nuances of the humanity and sometimes, inhumanity, beneath the surface. He supports the horror community with bloodied open arms and demonic vigor.
Dream Darkly and Keep Writing.
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