I read Drood
about a month ago.
I liked it quite a lot.
As usual, Simmons’s narrative is engrossing (which is fortunate since the book runs almost 800 pages,) and the only slow patches come towards the novel's end.
The characters are well formed especially the narrator, Dickens’s friend and protégé Willkie Collins.
As you might expect from a story told in the words of a contemporary of Charles Dickens, the novel has a definite Victorian tone which might put some readers off.
While the book sits loosely within the horror genre of psychological thriller (depending upon the conclusions you reach at the story's end) it serves as an engaging and accurate biography of Dickens. I came to appreciate, far more than I had previously, the extent of the superstar status Dickens enjoyed.
Not only did the book lead me to doing some internet research on Charles Dickens, I moved straight from Drood
to The Last Dickens
by Matthew Pearl.
I had read Pearl's The Dante Club
and found it excellent so I fully expected to enjoy The Last Dickens
. I wasn't disappointed. Seeing how the differently the two authors addressed the same basic subject (Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood
) was good fun. Interestingly enough there is very little overlapping of characters between the two books, with only a handful appearing in the plots of both, but it's a kick when events, people and places turn up in The Last Dickens
that one becomes familiar with through Drood.
With Pearl focusing on events Simmons really only references (Dickens’s American tour for example) The Last Dickens
is an excellent compliment to Drood
in terms of detailing the later years of Dickens' life.
I highly recommend both novels and reading them back to back.