Thanks very much to Hachette for providing a copy of this book to review!
When I finished this book I looked around on the web for reviews. I read those of the professional reviewers and the bloggers and some from non-bloggers as well and I can tell you there’s quite a range of opinions. Some thought it too long and could use a strong editorial hand. Others said that the author fell victim to the habit of giving too much detail about the particular time period (in Drood’s case, Victorian England) as though every detail the author discovered during his research needed to be put in the book. Still others felt there were too many incidental side stories that had nothing to do with plot and so slowed the book down considerably.
I did not feel this way. I enjoyed the descriptions of Dickens’ house parties, the relationship between Charles Dickens and various other characters, including those with his wife and son-in-law, Wilkie Collins’ brother, Charley. I got to know Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and a host of other people. And then there was the London undertown! (Did this place really exist?) Had the book been any shorter, I would not have had the same sense of atmosphere that pervaded the whole work, nor would I have enjoyed the contrast between the everyday life of the upper class and the horrors faced by the ‘Charles Dickens’ poverty-stricken lower class. It was immensely fascinating to read about the laudanum-addicted Wilkie’s movements between undertown and Charles Dickens country getaway.
This book showed me what a great story-teller Dan Simmons is. Rich in period detail with the right amount of creepiness, Drood was brilliant. Now, I’m well aware that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I couldn’t get enough of it and found it highly entertaining from the first page. It reminded me somewhat of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, another book that many people thought should have been shorter but I was happy it wasn’t.
My only complaint with this book is the weight! The hardcover must weigh a good 3 pounds so think twice before taking it on the bus!