Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

Stoker's wildeMy five word TL:DR review: Absolutely brilliant, witty, gothic horror

I loved this book. Quite simply it is perfection and, if like me, you enjoy a good epistolary style novel set in the Victorian era that is a reimagining of the lives of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde and creates an adventure that could be said to have inspired two literary masterpieces (if you believe in the supernatural that is), then give this one a try.  I adored this and couldn’t put it down and my next book will certainly be Stoker’s Wilde West.

Why this book worked so well for me.

Well, I love a story told in the form of diary excerpts and letters and this is done particularly well here.  I enjoy the feeling of being in the ‘moment’ which this style helps to create and in this particular instance a much broader picture is provided by including more than one POV.

This is a fantastic tale of werewolves and vampires and a dastardly tale of horror inspired by the search for immortality.  It reads in parts very much like one of the Penny Dreadfuls of the era and I thought that was a particularly inspired touch.  There is horror here, the kind of no nonsense horror where basically people die at the hands of the supernatural and in turn the supernatural are shot with silver or staked with the ensuing messy piles of ashes and exploding goo that you might expect – and yet this doesn’t feel grim or bloody because the story is tempered by the two primary povs, Wilde being sharply witty and Stoker steadfastly pragmatic.

That’s another element of the book that I loved.  The begrudging friendship of the two lead characters.  They’re so very different in every way imaginable and a pair of less likely friends is difficult to imagine.  As it is, necessity being the mother of survival the two, thankfully, do team up and deliver a dashing adventure of unlikely heroes.

The other thing of beauty here is the different voices.  Sometimes a novel with alternating voices can fail simply because they sound too similar.  That’s not a criticism that can be levelled at this book.  I loved all the different povs that make up this story but I confess that Oscar stole the show a little for me and I’m not sure, being a joint undertaking, whether one author was responsible for one character each – but, whatever the method used it worked incredibly well and the two characters could be described as something like chalk and cheese.

Now, I have read a couple of Oscar Wilde’s works and also loved Stoker’s Dracula and for me this novel captures their voices and style really well – but, I also admit that I’m no expert, I haven’t scrutinised this to the nth degree and so if you are an aficionado you might find things that you disagree with.  That didn’t happen for me in fact all the little tidbits here, particularly concerning Stoker, fed into or seemed to work alongside some of the other retellings I’ve read and I absolutely loved that the story was a strangely alternate mash up of both Dracula and Dorian Gray.

In terms of criticisms.  I have nothing at all to be honest, however, I would reiterate that this is a tale told through letters, diaries and the like so if that isn’t your cup of tea then take heed.  Also, given the nature of the story and the characters depicted there is a certain tone and style of writing that reflects the era – again, I thought it worked beautifully but again, this isn’t written in a contemporary style so again, take note.

Overall, I loved this and like Oliver – I want more please.  Fortunately, and being late to the party with this one – the second book is ready and waiting.  I can’t wait to dive into the pages of Stoker’s Wilde West.  Mmm, delicious expectation.

I bought a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

5 of 5 stars

 

 

 

24 Responses to “Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    A “mash up of both Dracula and Dorian Gray” – the perfect sense to pique my curiosity… 😉

    • maddalena@spaceandsorcery

      I meant SENTENCE – sorry for the mishap…

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s such an intriguing read and the main two characters really make it. Oscar’s diary inserts are witty and Bram’s notes are the complete opposite, dry and practical. Plus, the Wild West is next. How can I deny myself some more Oscar and Bram in the US.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I got this on NetGalley and never read it (which is one reason my ratio is so bad) but now that you’ve reminded me, and especially because you gave it 5 stars, I’m going to find it and read it!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It worked really well for me but then I love this style of telling a story and the tone was perfect for the period it’s set in – it’s not overly old fashioned but it captures the right feel somehow. Plus Oscar is great and the strange friendship (basically they dislike each other very much) is also a key part really. And I can’t wait to read the next one which moves to the US and promises Wild west vibes.
      Lynn 😀

  3. sjhigbee

    I love the sound of this one, Lynn – what a great review! And though I generally don’t read horror, I might well make an exception for this one:)).

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think you would like this one, funnily enough the horror puts me in mind more of the style of Hammer House of Horror than more recent horror that are all blood and guts. There’s an underlying current of humour, particularly in Oscar’s diary.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Yes, I got that sense from your review. Do you think this would work as an audiobook, Lynn? Or do you really need to read the journal entries?

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    This is the first I heard of this. WHY?!? LOL…Gothic horror, I’m all over that 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is so good, I really enjoyed it. It does have an old feel with both the style and tone but it worked so well for me and I just loved picking up all the references to Dracula and Dorian Gray. Plus Oscar and Bram are a great team, so at odds with each other that it brings comic elements to the story that are unexpected. The next is set in American and I’m kind of hoping for some Weird Wild West vibes given the title.
      Lynn 😀

  5. pagesandtea

    It’s probably not a surprise but I agree with everything you said 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this as much as I did.
    I loved Oscar too, his humour at times made me smile and I even had a laugh or two which I wasn’t really expecting going into a horror novel. Actually I loved both central characters, they’re such contrasts that having them reluctantly team up made for a good dynamic.
    Great review 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, in fact I think the oddball, or totally at odds, friendship between the main two characters was what really makes this and of course their different voices on the page. Loved it and to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have read it if your review hadn’t put it so firmly in my mind so thanks.
      Will be starting No.2 shortly and I’m very excited for that.
      Lynn 😀

      • pagesandtea

        Happy dancing if my review tempted you to read the book 😀
        I really hope no. 2 is as good. I like the idea of the Wild West theme and the vampire gunslingers, that’s just the kind of thing I fancy reading at the moment for some reason 😀
        I can’t believe I don’t actually have a copy of this book yet!

      • @lynnsbooks

        It’s funny really, I’m always seeing debates of one kind or another where various people say that blogging and book reviews by bloggers don’t have any impact and yet it’s the biggest influence on how I choose books. I have a few blogs that I follow, people with similar tastes in reading and if I see a review where they loved a book that’s good enough for me.
        Lynn 😀

  6. jessicabookworm

    Yep, Lynn you were right, this review had me on ‘if like me, you enjoy a good epistolary style novel set in the Victorian era’ 😄 It’s going on my wish list!

  7. waytoofantasy

    Ooooh, Lynn! I think you’ve talked me into checking this one out, this sounds like everything I love. 😀

  8. proxyfish

    Well perfection is high praise indeed! This sounds absolutely wonderful and I will definitely be adding it to my reading list!! Great review, Lynn. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I must admit that I thought of you when I was reading this and thought it might be your thing.
      Lynn 😀

      • proxyfish

        Then it would be very rude of me not to read it! 😄

  9. The Sunday Post #40 – Way Too Fantasy

    […] Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi (after seeing Lynn’s review) […]

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