Review: Drood by Dan Simmons

I recently picked up this book (Drood by Dan Simmons) in anticipation for Halloween. I wanted to read something that was scary and suspenseful with a historic Victorian London flair. This book started as a generally promising suspense/horror story but ended up being a huge disappointment. I’ll admit when I first started it I was completely hooked and into it but sadly as the weeks went by I had to force myself to finish it.

The book is written from the famous English author Wilkie Collins (famous works include The Woman in White and The Moonstone) perspective. Collins often collaborated with the famous Charles Dickens in real life. The witty humor which the Collin’s character brings to the novel is great, I often found myself LOL-ing all over the place and I especially loved the ‘Other Wilkie’ interaction (or lack there of) throughout the novel.

Simmons definitely nailed the Victorian writing style which added a sense of authenticity to the story as his sentences were long, wordy, and with a flair for the eccentric. He also seemed to really ‘get’ Collins’ character and used lots of Gothic fiction elements (ghosts, psychological breakdown, impending doom, drug use etc).

Simmons does a fantastic job recreating a gritty, dirty, creepy, horrifying turn of the century London. When Dickens and Collins venture out into the city slums looking for Drood, the imagery and description is by far one of the best I have read. I really felt like I was there walking right a long side Collins. The suspense and psychological cluster (*(^ that follows though it a little hard to sort out.

The story is set up where lots of things which don’t seem related or important meet and are supposed to make sense in the end but the farther a long the book got the more I found myself saying )*)(&^!! I was so confused by about 3/4 of the way through that I was sure the ending would NEVER make sense….and I was right, it didn’t.

The whole book is all about Collins continued drug use and psychological instability–I honestly expected Intervention to suddenly pop up in the book and cart him off to rehab! If I had to hear him whine about his Laudanum (opium) one more time I thought I was going to go out of my ever-loving mind!

As noted earlier, half way through the book I was about two seconds away from tossing it aside and moving on to something more entertaining. In the end (without giving too much away for those wanting to read it), the reader is left scratching his/her head trying to figure out if Collins is just crazy or paranoid or both….it’s fairly easy to say both. The ending is never really resolved and though Simmons set the stage for an amazing and engaging novel, the ending leaves much to be desired.

He never really says what the ‘thing in the servants stairway’ is, nor does he explain anything else about the woman with the green tusks, and above all- the notion that all everything that happened to him and the other characters who played into his ‘delusion’ (ie; Inspector Fields) were all equally as crazy as he was simply did not seem believable to me.

Simmons spends far too much time on the madness of Collins and it almost ties him into a knot and I sense that Simmons struggled with the ending as it seemed forced and anti-climactic.

If you love Victorian/Gothic novels pick it up and read it, it’s worth it for the Gothic elements and descriptions of London if nothing else. However if you are looking for a gruesome, suspenseful thriller with an ending that seems somewhat logical or for that matter a book that HAS an ending- look elsewhere.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Drood by Dan Simmons

  • ebook, 711 pages
  • Published February 9th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2009)
  • ISBN 0316040681 (ISBN13: 9780316040686)

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 2 out of 5

Genre: Contempo Literature, Gaslight Fiction, Gothic Literature, Historic Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Victorian Literature

Memorable lines/quotes: 

This is every writer’s nightmare–the sudden breakdown of meaning in the language that sustains and supports us…

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