Summary: On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best. -- Little, Brown & Company
Wow! I'm not sure where to start with this review of DROOD by Dan Simmons so I'll say this: I was blown away by this book!
I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy this historical fiction book because I am not a big Charles Dickens fan; and I didn't know if my lack of reading Dickens would affect my understanding of the novel. Another concern I had was that this book is HUGE and very intimidating, coming in at over 770 pages. That's a lot of reading if I didn't like it! I will admit that I probably wouldn't have read this if the book wasn't selected for the February Early Birds Book Tour. Having said all those reasons for not being anxious to read it, I decided to pick it up anyway. And I am so glad that I did because DROOD took me on a wonderful ride!
Probably the first thing that surprised me about DROOD was how entertaining and even funny this book was. I think the main reason for this was Mr. Simmons choice of narrator -- Wilkie Collins. I thoroughly enjoyed Wilkie and his drug-induced creations; and there is no doubt in my mind that I liked this novel better because it was Wilkie's story. For some reason, I found his jealousy and rage towards Dickens to be hilarious. And, don't get me started on his treatment of his "female friends." While he definitely wasn't the most reliable of narrators, I think that his strong opinions and even his vices made him more interesting.
I am in absolute awe of Dan Simmons -- he is nothing if not a genius! I can't even voice how much respect I have for him. Not only did he write a fantastic and fascinating story based on some historical facts, but he brought these characters to life. I can't begin to imagine researching the background material for this novel, and then to fill in the many blanks with an incredible (and very entertaining) story -- totally amazing! I must read more of Mr. Simmons' books.
There are lots of videos on youtube of Dan Simmons reading DROOD and discussing his novel, but I wanted to share with you this particular one. He is reading a scene from the book that I thought was very entertaining -- it shows how quirky Wilkie the narrator is, as well as how Dickens could really get Wilkie's goat! I also thought it was a good example of the humor that was woven throughout the pages of this book.
I highly recommend DROOD! It is a wonderful historical fiction book, but it's also filled with loads of suspense. Mr. Simmons managed to write a book that combines the best of both these genres. I have no doubt that it appeal to many readers!
Are you interested in winning a copy of DROOD? I have five books to giveaway courtesy of Hachette Book Group USA! For one entry, just leave a comment with your e-mail address. If you'd like to double (or even triple) your chances, you can either blog about this contest with a link back to this post and/or post a link on Twitter. I will accept comments until Friday, March 13th at 11:59 p.m. I will announce the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!
Check out the other blogs participating in this book tour: