Stoker's Wilde by Steven Hopstaken & Melissa Prusi
Publisher: Flame Tree Press | Release Date: May 9, 2019 | Pages: 256
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stoker's Wilde invites us back in time to Victorian England and Ireland to catch up with two of histories most profound authors- Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. But this speculative historical and supernatural tale has quite possibly been erased from the record books, leaving only journal entries, diaries, newspaper articles, case files, and letters between characters to shed a new light on the relationship between Stoker and Wilde, and what could have been their true inspirations for their most beloved works of Horror. Written as fiction, Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi will make you rethink what you've learned in all those history classes and ask what if the stories and movies we've read and watched over the years, were not really fiction at all? What if there really are things that do go bump in the night?
Stoker's Wilde starts in Ireland when famed adventurer, Richard Burton, invites Stoker and Wilde on a hunt for the killer of a young woman in a local village. After capturing the shockingly supernatural culprit, the two go on their separate ways. But a darkness has fallen over England, ruled by Queen Victoria, and someone wants to take her seat on the throne. A man known as the Black Bishop. Together, with his vampire cult, he schemes to overthrow the Queen with this dark, supernatural force and bring the British Empire to its knees. Stoker and Wilde have to overcome their disdain for one another to stop the Black Bishop and his cult from overthrowing England and achieving immortality. Both driven by different factors, the two authors, with the help of a Vampire Expert, an actress, and an American Businessman, fight werewolves and vampires, and attempt to save England from the grips of the ever growing power of the Black Bishop.
Once I saw the title of this book, I knew I needed to read it! It had something to do with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, both of whom I'm huge fans of! I read the synopsis, thought it sounded interesting and was expecting a bit of a fun read. I couldn't have been more wrong in the most spectacular way! Stoker's Wilde will take you on a roller coaster ride starting in Ireland, fighting werewolves, then into London to fight a mad man, and Stonehenge to stop a vampire cult from achieving immortality! This all sounds so incredibly far-fetched, but it is an entertaining read. The authors definitely did their homework, and a lot of it, to make this story as authentic as possible. So authentic, that by the end, you will be asking the question, “This didn't really happen though. Right?” The creativeness, combined with immense authenticity brought this story to an all too real life! Not many authors can do what these two accomplished.
The authenticity is the core of what drives this novel and what will make you question its accuracy. Prusi and Hopstoken created a very realistic Victorian London and Ireland and brought it to life with their vivid imagery, descriptions and careful attention to detail, but never take the reader too far from the plot. The world building was exceptional, as was the character building. Stoker is portrayed as a more conservative and traditional man, while Wilde is portrayed with a strong air of extravagance. Both, historically accurate. The cherry on top of this authentic sundae was introducing characters into the story who were very much real and alive during that time. I won't list them all, but Richard Burton was a fantastic, and quite strategic person to add into the narrative. But he was not the only real life person to make an appearance in the story, and the characters the authors created were engaging and well researched. Easily believable for that era.
The characters’ legitimacy is backed up by the way the entire story is told – in their own words. Letters back and forth from Wilde and Stoker easily distinguished them from each other. Journal entries and letters allowed for interesting and strong relationships between characters to be told in a much more realistic way than from just the author's perspective. Reading their feelings in their own words allowed the characters to establish their own unique voice and personality. This writing style is tricky and a big risk, but it absolutely delivered!
Steve Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi seemed to have discovered an old, dust covered antique trunk, filled with documents that they pieced together and presented to the world. A piece of work that is more original and creative than any novel I have read in years. Packed with plenty of suspense and action, we see Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde in their natural habitat of a bustling Victorian era London, forced together to stop a terror, that along the way, may have helped inspire their most famous literary works. As one reads this, you may think that I believed that what I had just read was real. That this was more than just another entertaining, fast paced, speculative historical horror novel. Well…maybe. They say that truth is stranger than fiction. It's quite possible Stoker's Wilde just proved that old add-edge to be quite true.