I received an advance reading copy of Stoker’s Wilde in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Steven Hopstaken, Melissa Prusi, and Flame Tree Press.
The concept of Stoker’s Wilde intrigued me straight away. It is an epistolary novel that is set in the late nineteenth century and sees Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, who actively dislike each other, begrudgingly working together to thwart a vampire cult masterminded by the mysterious Black Bishop. Much like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stoker’s Wilde features numerous narrators presenting the events chronologically through diary and journal entries, letters, police reports, newspaper articles etc…
Stoker’s Wilde is a finely composed mix of horror, historical fiction, and the supernatural written in a classic style that borrows elements from both Dracula and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in its presentation, writing style, flair for language, and events that take place. It features many famous faces from the Victorian-era including Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Sir Richard Burton, Robert and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as a Lord Wotton, and a Dutch vampire-hunter who has a lot in common with Van Helsing.
The main point of view perspectives were Stoker’s journal and Wilde’s diary. Both were a joy to read albeit completely different presentations with Stoker’s writing being factual and thought-provoking in his commentary whilst Wilde’s recording of events is full of style, wit, charisma, and is extremely quotable. The way Wilde’s sections flow and the lexical choices made me think that certain sections could have been written by the great man himself.
Stoker’s Wilde is a haunting gothic horror love letter to the titular authors. Hopstaken and Prusi have dedicated a lot of time, care and effort into their research and the subject matter and it shows. The novel has many exciting moments and reads like an extremely skilfully crafted classic horror tale. It’s the unlikely pairing of Stoker and Wilde that steal the show. Stoker’s relationships, finding out about his powers and past, and Wilde’s wit, place in society, and sexuality are all a joy to read about. They are two opposites of the era which makes them such a fine pairing.
There are some excellent suspenseful moments, pretty gory incidents, and a fair few decapitations and vampires turning into goop. The ending features a fantastic set-piece at Stonehenge that approaches dark fantasy territory and events are set up perfectly for the sequel, Stoker’s Wilde West, where the unlikely duo venture to America to help their ally, Robert Roosevelt. I will be checking out that book very soon.
The only real negative I have is that occasionally some of the letters written by less interesting characters such as Florence Stoker were not as exciting to follow as Bram’s and Oscar’s moments so I occasionally rushed these sections to get back to what I considered the best parts. That being said, overall I recommend this book to fans of horror, vampires stories, the paranormal and Victorian classical fiction.