Drood by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm giving this a 4.5 stars instead of a 5 for only one reason: I rather hate all the characters in this book and they were all god-awful annoying.
This is NOT to say that they weren't also amazingly complicated, well-written, fascinating, infuriating, and beautifully drawn, because they were. Amazingly so.
Let me preface this by saying that this is my second time reading this book and it is just as good this time as the first time I read it. Since then, I've also read a couple of Wilkie Collin's novels and truly enjoyed them. Charles Dickens also, but that came years before I read Drood.
Why is this important? Because these two authors feature mightily in this tale, with Wilkie being the amazingly difficult-to-like jealous author who loved, worked with, and frequently hated his best friend, Charles Dickens. Add to this the sinister mystery of Drood, a strange man Dickens had become obsessed with for many years, a massive opium addiction, the mysteries of mesmerism, crooked ex-cops, the underworld of London, and of course the burning jealousy, and this was a wild and wildly conflicting tale that lives up to some of the very best mysteries I've ever read.
The fact that it is also a huge research project, that all the characters fly to life, and that I was genuinely creeped out on a number of occasions shouldn't be passed off as a fluke, either.
I'm haunted by this novel. I can't say I actively LIKED it at any point, but it got under my skin big time a decade ago and remained there until I HAD to read it again to be fascinated all over again. And I was. I was totally fascinated. And it still keeps me thinking.
Just what happened after all? I mean, we do get a resolution, several even, but damn me if I'm still caught in Wilkie Collin's unreliable narration.
Not easy, but definitely brilliant and memorable. I think this should be called genuine literature and not relegated to horror or historical. It's so much more than either.
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