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Drood: A Novel [Hardcover]

Dan Simmons
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 9 2009
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.

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Review

"A dazzling journey through a crooked, gaslit labyrinth and a tenebrous portraiture of the tortured minotaurs that dwell within. Genius is the true mystery, and at its edge--the abyss." (Guillermo del Toro, writer and director of The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth)

"Simmons is always good but DROOD is a masterwork of narrative suspense." (Entertainment Weekly Stephen King)

About the Author

Dan Simmons is the award-winning author of several novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Olympos and The Terror. He lives in Colorado.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic premise, fantastic narrative voice June 20 2011
By Andre Farant TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Drood is a big, bold, ambitious piece of work and, though maybe a tad overlong and somewhat uneven, it is a unique and unforgettable read. Dan Simmons, whose previous novel, The Terror, I thoroughly enjoyed, endeavours to tell the (fictional) truth behind Charles Dickens' unfinished novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." Though this might be challenging enough, given that it would require that he, Simmons, research Dickens' life as well England of the mid-1800s, but he decided to write Drood in the first person with Dickens' friend and fellow writer, Wilkie Collins, as narrator. Simmons' job, and the resultant narrative, are further complicated by Collins' addiction to laudanum and documented mental instability. Collins is probably the most unreliable narrator I have read since Portnoy's Complaint.

Given these challenges with which Simmons has chosen to burden himself, one would expect that Drood would be an absolute mess, but Simmons is a true master and clearly up to the task. He creates in Collins not just an erratic and often confused narrator (and he certainly is that), but a fascinating, multi-layered character with a unique and engaging voice. Collins tells his tale with an eye towards maintaining his dignity and elevating his renown, but frequently comes off as petulant, bitter and cold. Though in lesser hands, Collins would have been an irritating and unlikeable narrator, Simmons ensures that Collins' flaws are amusing and entertaining rather than annoying and abrasive. We want to hear what Simmons' Wilkie has to say because he is flawed and, of course, because the tale he tells is an intriguing one.

But what of that tale? What is the book about, exactly? Well, it's about a very real train accident in which Dickens was involved.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Droopy Drood Feb. 3 2010
By Dave and Joe TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
A huge book, a huge undertaking, a good bit of time ... it had better be worth it. Well, I finished this book because I started it - I'm kind of rule bound that way. However, the book, as others have said - starts off wonderfully. But it becomes mired down in drugs and drug deliriums (about as wonderful to read as dreams). The fact is that Wilke Collins does like the opium a bit too much ... but drug addicts just aren't interesting ... then or now. The last half of the book was just plain tiresome. Like a crackhead that won't shut up ...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian creepy... Feb. 27 2009
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Ohh - doesn't the cover just grab you? The script of the title, the foggy background, the mysterious figure in a top hat? It opens with Victorian thriller novelist Wilkie Collins as the narrator.

"This true story shall be about my friend (or at least about the man who was once my friend) Charles Dickens and about the Staplehurst accident that took away his peace of mind, his health, and, some might whisper, his sanity."

It is 1865 and Charles Dickens is riding a train that crashes, killing nearly all aboard. As Dickens tries to help survivors, he notices a tall, thin, pale man with a 'skull like visage', wearing a heavy black cape, also among the survivors. But those the caped man is attending to seem to die despite or as a result of his attentions. This mysterious figure, who introduces himself as Drood, comes to haunt Dickens. Dickens insists that Collins accompany him into the underbelly of London, into the sewers where it is rumoured that Drood may live. It is also rumoured that Drood is responsible for many murders. But Collins begins to believe that Drood does not exist, that Dickens may himself may be Drood.

Dan Simmons' research is detailed and extensive. He has recreated the friendship and rivalry between these two esteemed authors, whose works are known and loved over 150 years later. The social life, dialogue and historical details of Victorian London are impeccably described. I love this time period and Simmons has done an amazing job bringing it to life - opium dens, lime pits, crypts, mesmerism and the slums of London. I found myself taking side trips to the computer to follow up on many pieces of knowledge presented in the novel.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Sensationalism at its Best! March 28 2009
By Nicola Manning-Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Where to start with a book of over 700 pages? If I were to have written this review immediately after finishing the book, and closing my hanging jaw, one word would have sufficed, "Wow!"

Wilkie Collins is the narrator of this book, being a memoir of his life from the time of The Woman in White's end of serialization to minutes before his death. Written in an authentic Victorian sensationalist novel voice the book is incredibly brilliant. What starts off as a simple tale of Collins' life and his friendship with Dickens takes a wild turn into murder, mayhem and the supernatural. The reader is taken along for a ride through opium dens, laudanum addiction, underground catacombs and an underground city in London, cemeteries and crypts, Egyptian cults, mesmerism as a science, and well, the list is endless. More of a summary would be a disservice to future readers. You must let the plot (or should I say multiple plots) unfold for yourself.

Filled with wonderful, eccentric characters; most of whom were actual real-life figures, one becomes fascinated with them all from the highest of character to the lowest of the low. As per a Dickens novel, the characters come and go, some shining briefly as main characters only to leave rather quickly while others are around from beginning to end. The writing is superb, simply superb. The Victorian style is followed to a "T", including having certain people named Mrs. G______ and swear words printed as d___n. Never does Simmons loose beat with the style and language of original Victorian novels. I presume this book is an homage to Wilkie Collins' style, but as I have never read him I can only surmise.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A valiant effort
Dan Simmons has written a compelling enough novel in Drood. The supernatural sequences, the historical backdrop, his prose, and suspense create a very readable book. Read more
Published on July 10 2011 by OpenMind
3.0 out of 5 stars Drood: intriguing, but not satisfying
I often enjoy Dan Simmons' work, but this was a bit of a disappointment.

The story chronicles several years in the lives of the novelists Charles Dickens and Wilkie... Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2010 by Meletus Crake
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turner explores nature of reality, genius
A genuine page-turner in the purest sense, "Drood" takes as its jumping-off point the relationship between Charles Dickens and the Victorian mystery novelist Wilkie Collins,... Read more
Published on July 1 2010 by D. Stover
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Gothic
Dan Simmons is a masterful wordsmith. With "Drood" he has successfully re-created the gothic writing style. His prose is wonderful and flows seamlessly. Read more
Published on April 3 2010 by John M. Macphail
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
When I finished this book I looked around on the web for reviews. I read those of the professional reviewers and the bloggers and some from non-bloggers as well and I can tell you... Read more
Published on March 4 2010 by Myckyee
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good
I purchased Dan Simmons previous book "The Terror" and I loved it!
Drood just did not do anything for me. I like big books when they are good.... Read more
Published on May 30 2009 by Norm
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