Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Slow Slide into the Surreal

Book Review: Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Joseph Barkeley leads a somewhat predictable life, grounded in reality and based on facts. He knows old books and manuscripts, he is an expert in his field.

Then, slowly but surely, he finds his life taking a different track into unknown territory. In the hands of novice author Royce Prouty, Stoker's Manuscript has going Barkeley veering off the rails entirely as he pursues the mysterious clues hidden within the first draft of Bram Stoker's ground-breaking novel.

Prouty moves his protagonist into the surreal environment of vampire-ridden Romania with care, gradually adding equal parts history and horror until the atmosphere is thick as blood. And the blood flows thickly as Barkeley struggles with his own past while trying to find a way out of his dilemma.

Through it all, author Prouty makes the transition from civilized reality to the horrific seem almost natural. The reader moves smoothly through the story, only to suddenly find himself surrounded by vampires. It is like taking a casual walk around the block, following well-known steps, only to look up and find oneself in another city, or another time, or another reality.

An excellent first novel, Stoker's Manuscript will have you turning pages through the night. You might want to save your reading for the daytime though.

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