Friday, February 27, 2009

Review AND Giveaway: Drood by Dan Simmons

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.

The narrator of this spooky tale is Wilkie Collins, Victorian novelist and great friend of Charles Dickens. He has quite a story to tell. In the aftermath of a terrible train accident that he was lucky to escape, Dickens claims to have met an eerie, ugly figure by the name of Drood:

"Perhaps the unimaginable began when he was clambering down the steep embankment. Suddenly appearing next to him was a tall, thin man wearing a heavy black cape far more appropriate for a night at the opera than an afternoon's voyage to London on the tidal train. Both men were carrying their top hats in one hand while grabbing at the embankment for balance with their free hands. This figure, as Dickens later described to me in a throaty whisper during the days after the accident when his voice 'was no longer my own,' was cadaverously thin, almost shockingly pale, and stared at the writer from dark-shadowed eyes set deep under a pale, high brow that melded into a pale, bald scalp. A few strands of greying hair leapt out from the sides of this skull-like visage. Dickens's impression of a skull was reinforced, he said later, by the man's foreshortened nose - 'mere black slits opening into the grub-white face than a proper proboscis' was how Dickens described it - and by small, sharp, irregular teeth, spaced too far apart, set into gums so pale that they were whiter than the teeth themselves."

This meeting marks a great change in Dickens' life. His health begins to decline and he embarks on a series of nighttime tours through the darkest areas of underground London, called Undertown, in search of the elusive Drood. His friends and family notice his peculiar behavior and his increasing interest in the macabre.

Wilkie, who is plagued by constant pain which he attributes to rheumatic gout, has his own issues. He is addicted to opium, in the form of laudanum, to dull the pain and allow him the freedom to live his life. Charles often insists on Wilkie's presence on his midnight jaunts, which allows Wilkie to discover hidden opium dens. As a result, his addiction becomes much more severe.

Charles Dickens' obsession with Drood is contagious, Wilkie is drawn in and is soon deeply involved in the sinister occurrences that surround Drood and his minions. He tells himself that he is doing it for Charles, out of concern for his friend's mental health, but when he starts to believe in Drood himself the story takes on an entirely different aspect.

Dan Simmons has given us a dark, deliciously creepy narrative that any Victorian ghost story aficionado will savor. Indeed, I think Victorians themselves would be right at home reading this novel. The eerie atmosphere and gothic suspense strongly reminded me of that classic American writer, Edgar Allan Poe.

Drood is published by Little Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-00702-3

Miriam at Hachette Book Group has provided me with three copies of this book to give away. If you would like to enter, leave a comment here with the title of your favorite ghost story. Two extra entries for anyone who blogs about the giveaway, tweets on twitter or becomes a follower of my blog. If you do, please leave me a separate comment to let me know. Enter until midnight eastern on March 13. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes)

Here is a list of everyone participating in the Early Bird Blog Tour....stop by and read their thoughts on Drood!


89 comments:

bridget3420 said...

My favorite ghost story... Hmmm. That's a toughie. I guess Sleepy Hollow.

bridget3420(at)yahoo(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

I'm a follower.

bridget3420(at)yahoo(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

Tweeted here: http://twitter.com/bridget3420

bridget3420(at)yahoo(dot)com

Molly said...

I have been waiting for this book tour for over a month and it is finally here!! I would absolutely LOVE to be entered in your drawing.

I guess my favorite ghost - or the one who comes to mind right away - is Mrs. Drablow from Susan White's A Woman in Black.

Molly said...

tweeted about the give away :)

will blog later tonight or this weekend.

have a good one - and thanks for this kind, generous offer.

Kaye said...

One great story is by Wilkie Collins The Woman in White - that's a great ghost (among other elements) story!

florida982002[at]yahoo[dot]com

Kaye said...

I am already a follower, hope that counts

florida982002[at]yahoo[dot]com

bermudaonion said...

Don't enter me. I really enjoyed this book, too. I became so engrossed in this book the time would just fly by.

Nely said...

Oooh this sounds creepy. Enter me please, although I don't really read any ghost stories on the norm maybe a couple of Stephen King's. "It" scared my pants off when I was younger.

I, of course, am one of you stalkers already. :D

nelaine(dot)sanchez(at)gmail(dot)com

Luanne said...

No need to enter me - just stopping by on the tour. I love this time period and though Simmons did an amazing job bringing it to life!

Indigo said...

Creepiest ghost story for me was in the book "Heart shaped box" by Joe Hill. I don't know why but the whole revenge issue just seemed so plausible.

Please enter me for this drawing. Thanks! Indigo

ravensquietscreams@gmail.com

Indigo said...

I follow you on Google Reader. Thanks! Indigo

ravensquietscreams@gmail.com

Book Lover Lisa said...

I agree with what you said about a victorian reader feeling right at home reading this novel. It felt like it was written at the time. No need to enter me.

Jen - devourer of books said...

So I don't forget, I follow you in Google reader, which is how I got to your post.

I can't think of a ghost story off the top of my head, but I do have a book I loved that reminds me a bit of this and is a supernatural story: Dracula Dossier by James Reese. It sounds very similar to Drood except much shorter and about Bram Stoker instead of Charles Dickens.

devourers.books(at)gmail.com

Toni said...

No need to enter me! Just stopping by on the Blog Tour. Excellent review. I like "deliciously creepy." Yeah... that sums it up!

avisannschild said...

Please enter me! I don't read very many ghost stories, but I see someone else mentioned The Woman in White, so I'll second that! (I read it last year and loved it.)

Thanks for the giveaway!

Debdesk said...

Please include me in your drawing. Favorite ghost story is "Heart shaped box" by Joe Hill.
Thanks
Debbie
debdesk9@verizon.net

Debdesk said...

I am a follower.
Thanks
Debbie
debdesk9@verizon.net

Kristi said...

I don't know if it was the creepiest - but the last one I read was Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill - He has some competition with his dad though - I grew up on Stephen King!

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Linda said...

I don't read much in the way of ghost stories, but one that comes to mind is Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Drood sounds very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.

Linda said...

I subscribe to your blog through Google reader.

carolsnotebook said...

My favorite ghost story. I guess I'm going to have to go with A Christmas Carol.
This book looks fabulous. I can't wait to read it after all I've been hearing.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Mo from Unmainstream Mom Reads said...

Recently, my favorite has been Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. The ghost in that is really creepy, especially with the weapon he carries! Thanks for the chance to win!

Chris said...

My mind went blank but I did think of The Witching Hour by Anne Rice which had a stalker ghost. I've added you to my Google Reader. :)

caite said...

my favorite ghost story..was my first, The Legend of Sleepyhollow. I remember my mother reading it to be as a bedtime story...which does not seem wise...lol

Please throw mt hat in the ring
Caitemaire@hotmail.com

Miriam said...

Great picks, commenters! I am partial to Ichabod Crane myself as I am from just a few miles south of Sleepy Hollow.

Northanger Abbey is a fun one too! Have you read that? Jane Austen at her Gothic best!!

Janel said...

I recently read a fun cozy mystery called The Ghost and Mrs. McClure. It wasn't scary, but still a lot of fun.

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Janel said...

I subscribe to your blog already : )

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

Janel said...

I blogged about this in my right sidebar at:

http://janelsjumble.blogspot.com

shelburns said...

Stoppin' by on my way around the blog tour - good review!

RidgewayGirl said...

Please enter me in your drawing.

My favorite ghost story would have to be "My Dark Places" by James Ellroy. Not a ghost story in the traditional sense, but the author is haunted by the memory of his murdered mother.

kay.hardtmann@gmx.de

Valorie said...

My favorite? Man, I read so many! Probably Bloody Mary.

Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

Valorie said...

Blogged:
http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/02/24/book-giveaways-0223-0301/

Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

drey said...

Ooh, ghost stories... I used to love 'em as a child, but I let myself get creeped out too easily now. Don't know why... Great tour post!

Meg89 said...

I've never been big on ghost stories, but this book sounds so good! I suppose Signed, Mata Hari, which I loved BTW, was a ghost story, even though you don't know it until the last page.

Meg89 said...

I just added you to my reader as well!

Thanks!

Stacie said...

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult.

Susan said...

Linda - Congratulations! You won a copy of Matrimony. Click on over to my blog to learn how to claim your book! (This ups my chances of winning your giveaway, right? *wink, wink*)

I'm super excited about your giveaway. Please, please enter me. As for my favorite ghost story, I guess I'm going to have to go with a classic - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. BTW: I blogged about your giveaway. Thanks :)

Teddy Rose said...

It's not really a ghost story but there is a ghost in it.. 'A Christmas Carol'.

I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2009/02/this-weeks-giveaways-galore_28.html

scottsgal said...

Definitely a Christmas Carol - loved the book, the play

msboatgal at aol dot com

Bev said...

My favorite ghost story (lately that is) is 1408 taken from a Stephen King short story. I love that movie!

BevE
half4books@gmail.com

Rue said...

Favorite Ghost Story:
The Spell of the Socerer's Skull by John Bellairs. Great YA ghost story that I stumbled upon when I was a kid. Scared me half to death but that just made me want to read more.

Nancy said...

I'm not sure that I have a favorite ghost story but I do think The Others (the movie) was a pretty cool ghost story. Thanks for the giveaway.
spackattak7(at)hotmail(dot)com

trish said...

Favorite ghost story?? Eek! I don't know that I have one. Some of my favorite ghost stories are from when I was younger and the ghost stories were told to me. Those things could freak me out!

trish said...

By the way, I'm a follower!

Bridget said...

I've posted this on Win A Book. No need to enter me.

bookoholic13 said...

"The Tell-Tale Heart" creeped me out when I was a kid, and I noticed (upon rereading it for the anniversay in January) that it still does! That's a good ghost story!!

bookoholic13 said...

I'm a follower!

Carol said...

My favorite ghost story is Stephen King's The Shining.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT aol.com

Carol said...

I'm a follower.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT aol.com

Angela C said...

My Favorite Ghost story is IT by Stephen King. I'm not really sure it qualifies as a ghost story though.

olympianlady said...

My favorite ghost story? Definitely The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. That one used to really creep me out when I was little, but I love it now.

tiffanyak1986(at)hotmail(dot)com

olympianlady said...

I blogged this at http://olympianlady.livejournal.com/3684.html

tiffanyak1986(at)hotmail(dot)com

Marie said...

I would have to say The Woman in White is my all time favorite and a classic as well. I've read a lot of Victorian ghost stories but I don't remember the various authors, it was a huge collection all in one book!

vmlay@artsci.wustl.edu

a real librarian said...

Favorite ghost story - wow! I guess I would have to say either Legend of Sleepy Hollow or The Woman in White! Thanks for the chance to win!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

S.M.D. said...

Oh oh oh. I'm in! Please enter me :). Email in my profile. Thanks!

S.M.D. said...

Also, I blogged about this giveaway here: http://wisb.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-giveaways-around-blogosphere.html

nfmgirl said...

Hmmmm. I don't read much of "ghosts" stories, but lots of "horror" stories. However I have seen Legend of Sleepy Hollow mentioned by others, and that was a favorite of mine as a kid in school, so I'll go with that.

caseykelp said...

fave...hmmmm Bell Witch, Thank you for the giveaway

Cheryl S. said...

The only ghost story that comes to mind is "A Christmas Carol". "Drood" looks interesting - please count me in!

Thanks,
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Amanda said...

Please enter me!! I've been dying to read this!

Sara said...

I'm a follower.

Sara said...

My favorite ghost story is Christopher Pike's Remember ME series. When I was younger I re-read each book atleast 10 times.

Thanks!
Sararush (at) hotmail (dot) com

nhertel85 said...

My favorite is Sleepy Hollow.

nhertel85 AT yahoo DOT com

nhertel85 said...

I'm following you

nhertel85 AT yahoo DOT com

bison61 said...

this book sounds so good!

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Karen in TN said...

For a traditional ghost story, probably Christmas Carol - but my favorite would have to be Casper (after all, who wouldn't prefer a friendly ghost?).

Please enter me to win. I follow the blog on googlreader.

kolists a-t gmail do-t com

The Giveaway Diva said...

ooo wow sounds good!! i think my favorite ghost story is casper because he`s friendly!!

ann marie said...

Thanks for the giveaway, my favorite ghost story is The Good House by Tananarive Due

annmariebro(at)yahoo(dot)com

kalea_kane said...

Great giveaway! My favorite Ghost Story is Ghost Story by Peter Straub. :) Love that one! Thank you so much for the giveaway. This books sounds amazing!

enroutetolife(at)gmail(dot)com

Kelly

kalea_kane said...

I tweeted.

http://twitter.com/kellyblackwell/status/1301771512

enroutetolife(at)gmail(dot)com

Kelly

kalea_kane said...

I am also a follower. Thank you again for this chance. Thanks to Hachette too!

Kelly

MonieG said...

My favorite ghost story is the Mexican legend "The Llorona". Yikes. It still gives me chills.

MonieG said...

I Tweeted the giveaway here: http://twitter.com/monie_g/status/1308721357

Heather said...

I like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Heather said...

following your blog

Anita Yancey said...

For me it would be Heart Shaped Box. Thanks for having this giveaway.

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Dina said...

The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood

joanniejohnst said...

My favorite ghost story (and I'm a huge fan of them!) has to be The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson...it was the only time as an adult that I had to sleep with the light on!

Thanks for the giveaway offer...I just discovered your blog, and love it!

esther said...
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esther said...
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esther said...

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is my favorite.

esther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
esther said...

I follow.

wordlily said...

I have this one in audio format, but I think I'll wait until I get the tactile version before I start it. I love the idea of books interacting with literary giants of the past.

Lisanne624 said...

I have checked this one out of the library several times, but I've not managed to make my way through it yet! It's quite enjoyable at the beginning, but I'm dreading that whole "unreliable narrator" thing.

tashiana said...

i love how he took part of the title from dicken's last book
it sounds likea a cool creepy book
wonder what dickens is like on opium lol

Valerie said...

I don't know much about Dickens, but this sounds fascinating
I'd probably enjoy it
KawaiiNeko2008 at aol dot com

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.