After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he's become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley's only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley's salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward's flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.
Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker's original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows I have a great deep love for anything Dracula, the more intense, creepy and sexy the better.
So it was with extreme happiness I took Stoker’s Manuscript from the hands of my best beloved one and eagerly began the process of deciding if I could read this fiction novel…. I tend to immerse myself mainly in YA.
After reading the book flap and flipping through a few of the pages I decided that I had to purchase this novel and devour it as fast as possibly.
The book was good, though this is perhaps too simple a statement. The book surrounds Joseph, a Romanian orfan who is hired to authenticate Bram Stoker’s original manuscript, notes, missing prologue and epilogue and take it to a mysterious buyer in Transylvania. Much of this book talked about the care and keeping of old books, many of the different paper types and authentication processes. Which I very much enjoyed. Joseph is a smart intriguing character. He is also prone to mistakes, mistakes that hurt people and help people in this novel. He calls himself a coward but like many “normal” men called to for duty, he does it with his full heart.
There is a lot of religion in this novel, Joseph’s brother Berns is a priest and Joseph meets other men of the cloth. Most of the characters are Catholic, so there is a lot of “Gods Will Be Done” stuff, which I don’t care for normally but worked for this novel.
The love interest, Sophia, is a very interesting character, though I felt the fact that she falls in love the MC kind of a throw away plot and not really used to the extent it could have been. She is a psychic who helps Jospeh with his quest.
There were many other fascinating side characters Joseph meets, all who play major roles in the climax and conflict. Each character was written in a way that they felt like real people you would meet in Romania. The author did an awesome job with providing information and detail without it being over whelming.
Now…the vampires… First off the author did his research into the family of Vlad the Impaler and uses two of his brothers in this novel, Radu and Dalca. He was able to keep the dark creepiness of Bram Stoker’s vampires while also adding his own touches. The author explains vampire are soulless creature, their jaws unhinge when they feed, like snakes. He states that they feed like mosquitoes and that vampires, after they have fed, smell like carrion because through their skin leaks the parts of the blood their bodies do not use. The author also goes on to tell us that each vampire “family” only has one wife, or breeding female and the “families” tend to kidnap each others wives so that they cannot breed. Joseph spends most of this book looking for Dalca and Radu’s wives.
The vampires were evil, godless creatures in this book, brutal and cruel. I enjoyed them, though I would have liked more information on the wives. They seem to be such an important plot line to have no voice in this novel.
There was some gore so be warned.
This book does not end happily ever after, but it ends well, if that makes any sense.
The only issue I had with this book was the ending felt rushed. I liked everything else about it, aside from the minor issues I have listed above. If you want a great vampire book where they have not become romanticized sparkling ya vomit piles then this novel is for you. If you loved Dracula then I recommend picking this up….He’s not in it, but it is centered around the novel, his home and his family tree.
Historically Accurate Note:
This novel centers around the premise that in Bram Stoker’s original manuscript there was a prologue and an epilogue that were thrown out/not published. This is accurate, and the author uses those forgotten chapters to his great advantage in the book. These notes were also put on display at Rosenbach Museum & Library, just as Stoker’s Manuscript states. You can find information about this:
Notes For Stoker's Dracula