‘Tis the season for weddings, graduations, and…True Blood. Yes, possibly the campiest, most over the top show on television has returned. Mixing the joyous tears of lifelong commitment and sentimentality* with celebrations marking the easiest years of your life, there is a dash of vampire re-resurrection and rapidly aging human-fae babies thrown in for good measure – all with questionable music choices. So…
It’s all about balance**. Obviously.
When I received Stoker’s Manuscript***, I was hesitant and intrigued. My hesitance was because, while I like a good vampire novel as much as the next person, I am also tired of the romanticization of vampires. They are dead creatures that feast on a human host, causing harm to said host. Do we need to revisit the definition of parasite? Because sexual activity involving parasites has a distinct lack of appeal for me (no need to point out that I watch the epitome of smutty vampire television, I’m already well aware of how I spend my Sunday nights), it was with both relief and glee when I discovered that Stoker’s Manuscript would not involve intimate interludes with deceased individuals (well…not quite) – the protagonist has little in the way of romantic ambitions. In the early pages of the novel we learn that Joseph is uncomfortable with intimacy and prefers the company of books, in fact, he has a special gift involving paper that will change the course of his life.
Stoker’s Manuscript is Royce Prouty’s debut novel and while is doesn’t break fresh ground in the lore of vampire traditions, it doesn’t suck either. The novel centers on intelligent loner Joseph Barkeley, a rare manuscript expert who’s hired to authenticate the original draft of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although the prospective buyer is mysterious and reclusive, Joseph doesn’t heed the warnings of those around him and personally delivers the manuscript to Bran Castle in Romania. To his horror, he only realizes how much is at stake when he is imprisoned by Vlad Dracul’s son. To preserve his life, he needs to remain useful by analyzing cryptic messages hidden in the novel’s text. In doing so, he discovers that his trip to Romania might not be so coincidental after all. Based on actual events surrounding the publication of Dracula, Stoker’s Manuscript reads as if part historical account, part vampire legend, yet entirely compelling fiction.
Drawing on the classic vampire tale, Prouty’s unique take on the mysteries surrounding Dracula’s publication creates a notable debut novel. Stoker’s Manuscript is likely to appeal to those who – like me – love a good vampire story. And what’s not to love? There’s travel, conflict, ancient evil, family feuds, secret histories, and an unlikely hero. While it may not win the favor of the average True Blood lover, it is a welcome respite to the vampire paranormal romance trend and a solid summer read. 4/5, recommended for vampire aficionados.
Good books aside, you have to admit that graduations and weddings are not known for their stellar music selections. Leading up to my graduation, I heard Green Day’s ‘Time of Your Life’ more than I care to remember. At weddings, I’ve heard my fair share of ‘At Last’ and ‘Everything I Do (I Do It for You)’. So the real question is not whether you love True Blood, adore undead romance, or believe I should offer an apology for my bad puns above – the real question is what was your wedding song (if, of course, you are married or engaged)?
There’s very little in the way of desirable food references, although there are few instances of delicious bread being served. Due to the bread references (and because everyone’s favorite cannibal loves a side of fava beans, not to mention vampires and their affinity for blood
oranges), I am recommending Bruschetta with Fava Beans, Greens, and Blood Oranges.
*I realize this statement can be interpreted as bitter, but I actually find weddings to be beautiful. The idea of committing your life to someone is very romantic. However, given I’m in the latter half of my twenties, the number of weddings I’ve attended is staggering.
**Yes, I’m trying to justify watching truly bad television. Don’t pretend that you don’t too.
***I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.