Abraham “Bram” Stoker was a Theatre Manager in London who saw his notoriety soar with the release of a gothic horror novel in 1897 titled DRACULA. The rest is, literally, history. Stoker’s theatrical background is all but forgotten as the book started the literary blood-lust for vampire fiction that still continues today.
But what if DRACULA was not a work of fiction? It is well known that the lead character was fashioned on the infamous villain Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler. Stoker’s book later became a legendary film in 1931 starring Bela Lugosi that followed a less popular but still noteworthy silent film version of his novel in 1922, NOSFERATU. Speculation over DRACULA still continues today with a sequel penned by his own grandson, Dacre Stoker, in 2009.
"STOKER’S MANUSCRIPT is a fine first effort that is hard to put down. Royce Prouty has clearly done his homework and does a terrific job of blurring the lines between fact and fiction to create a novel that is chilling, informative and utterly suspenseful."
Now comes debut author Royce Prouty, who admits that his first venture into fiction writing involved an action/adventure tale set in Alaska. After being turned down by various publishers, he was asked if he had any vampire stories. It is obvious that vampire stories, both YA and Adult, continue to be big sellers on the fiction market. In order to stand out from that, Prouty decided to dive directly into the history of the missing first edition manuscript of DRACULA.
Everyone knows the story of the original DRACULA, and even though it was well received, many found the ending to be anti-climactic. Was the villainous Count from Transylvania easily dispatched in his coffin by a group of vampire hunters, or did the original text have something completely different in mind? Thus lies the premise of STOKER’S MANUSCRIPT.
A young American named Joseph Barkeley has gained a reputation as a rare manuscript expert. When he is approached by an anonymous buyer to find, purchase and authenticate Stoker’s original notes for DRACULA --- including the missing epilogue and prologue --- it is an intriguing offer that Barkeley cannot refuse. The trek will take him from his home in Chicago directly into the Romanian mountains in the territory once referred to as Transylvania.
Ironically or not, Barkeley and his brother were both orphans from Romania who were transported to the U.S. when they were very young. Barkeley recognizes this is no coincidence, and once he meets the mysterious “buyer” who has hired him --- along with his legion of odd followers --- it becomes apparent that this is no mere literary job. Barkeley’s new employer believes that the location of Count Dracula and his family’s gravesites may be found in the lost text from Stoker’s original manuscript. Allegedly, this discovery could set off a centuries-old family feud with Barkeley playing an uncomfortably close role in it.
STOKER’S MANUSCRIPT is a fine first effort that is hard to put down. Royce Prouty has clearly done his homework and does a terrific job of blurring the lines between fact and fiction to create a novel that is chilling, informative and utterly suspenseful.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 21, 2013