Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Dan Simmons - Drood

Well, this novel is huge! Not only in size it is a tome at 775 pages and this is not a book that you want to skim. It is fascinating, confusing and sucks you in so far that you almost get lost. This is a book that defies genre. Is it a historical novel, yes, is it faction, yes it is about the lives of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, is it horror, certainly, is it fantasy possibly.

I was utterly engrossed. Having read Girl in a Blue Dress (see below) I was interested to read another book about Charles Dickens. This book is narrated by his friend the also celebrated novelist Wilkie Collins. The utterly mesmerising thing about this book, and I use those terms advisedly, is that the novel changes and moves utterly compelling you to read on. Wilkie Collins is addicted to laudanum, for his rheumatic pains, (or are these withdrawal symptoms?), as a result he sees things only someone as 'sensitive' as himself can see. As he increases his input of the drug his prose, his visions, his narration takes us on an interesting journey. As the laudanum increasingly ceases to take effect (!?) he begins to visit opium dens to get the hit he needs and the narration becomes intense, confused, paranoid. At the centre of all this is Charles Dickens, suffering from post traumatic stress after a horrific railway accident, experimenting himself with mesmerism, add perhaps a serial killer, and this book has you dragged down into the underbelly of Victorian London with all the Gothic, atmospheric drama and detail that you could, or perhaps might not ,want.

I loved this book get it, read it and prepare to leave life as you know it and disappear into another world for days on end! It reminds me of the sort of world that Stephen King is so good at creating Dan Simmons is up there with him.......