Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Drood by Dan Simmons (book review)

Beyond genius lies insanity. 

What a wonderfully accurate tag line for this book. Told from the point of view of frequent Charles Dickens collaborator and friend William Wilkie Collins, Drood is the story of Dickens' meeting with the creature known only as Drood after a horrendous train accident. After describing the strange being to Collins, the two authors endeavor into the Undertown of the London streets on the hunt for the elusive Drood. What follows is a twisted tale of madness that keeps the reader glued to the text to see what happens next. 

What's most impressive about Drood is Dan Simmons' careful reconstruction of 1860's London. Every detail, from the deteriorating slums to the cobblestone streets, is handled with great care and clearly endless hours of research. The language is so believable in its authenticity I forgot the author is an American. 

Charles Dickens is portrayed as a brilliant, boyish adventurer that had gained the respect of millions with his tales, while Wilkie Collins is so embroiled in his jealousy of his mentor's celebrity that he spends much of his narrative berating The Inimitable's work. The dialog between these men is smart and eloquent, the twist and turns throughout the story are tense and often goose bump educing in their eeriness. 

A smart, imaginative and often educational read. Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 stars

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