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Stoker's Manuscript
     

Stoker's Manuscript

4.4 15
by Royce Prouty
 

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Debut author Royce Prouty offers a spellbinding tale of history, folklore, destiny, and redemption. 

Joseph Barkeley has a gift. Without the aid of chemical testing, he can accurately determine the authenticity and age of any document, seeing details within the fibers the way a composer picks out the individual notes of a symphony. But rarely does Joseph

Overview

Debut author Royce Prouty offers a spellbinding tale of history, folklore, destiny, and redemption. 

Joseph Barkeley has a gift. Without the aid of chemical testing, he can accurately determine the authenticity and age of any document, seeing details within the fibers the way a composer picks out the individual notes of a symphony. But rarely does Joseph get a job this delicate and well-paying. A mystery buyer has hired him to authenticate the original draft of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

When he travels to Transylvania to personally deliver the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle, Barkeley, a Romanian orphan himself, soon realizes that his employer is the son of the infamous Vlad Dracula. Imprisoned in the castle and forced to serve “the Master,” Barkeley must quickly decipher cryptic messages hidden within Stoker’s masterpiece to find the Master’s long-lost bride—or risk wearing out his welcome.

But as he delves into the history of Dracula and his own lineage, Barkeley discovers that his selection for this job was based on more than his talent with rare books. Now, he has a perilous decision to make—save his life with a coward’s flight, or wage a deadly battle with an ancient foe.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award finalist for best first novel!

"[A]lmost impossible not to keep reading. Prouty’s careful, sometimes daring mingling of history and legend with fiction makes for a tantalizing novel in which he interweaves, to great effect, some of the mysteries surrounding the genesis of Dracula’s writing."—John Edgar Browning, editor of The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker

"Prouty’s debut, a riveting novel of supernatural suspense, deftly mixes fact and fiction involving the manuscript of Bram Stoker’s great vampire novel, Dracula."—Dacre Stoker, coauthor of Dracula the Un-Dead

"Prouty’s debut novel will stoke the interest of Dracula lovers everywhere."—Kirkus Reviews

 

Publishers Weekly
Reviewed by Dacre Stoker. Prouty’s debut, a riveting novel of supernatural suspense, deftly mixes fact and fiction involving the manuscript of Bram Stoker’s great vampire novel, Dracula (1897). In present-day Chicago, rare book dealer Joseph Barkeley receives a phone call from a gentleman with an Eastern European accent who wants him to authenticate Stoker’s original Dracula manuscript, which is due to be sold at auction by Christie’s. An anonymous client wishes to buy the manuscript. Barkeley eagerly agrees to the caller’s terms. A successful bid on his client’s behalf will mean a generous commission for him as well as a trip to Romania, which happens to be Barkeley’s birthplace, to deliver the manuscript. During his research, Barkeley learns the circumstances of Dracula’s publication were not without controversy. Stoker planned to publish a prologue and epilogue with Dracula, but for some reason did not. The content of Stoker’s missing text remains unknown. The many parallels between Stoker’s Manuscript and Dracula range from subtle to overt. The unassuming Joseph Barkeley, who becomes a reluctant vampire hunter, resembles Jonathan Harker in more than name. Just as Bram’s band of heroes used new technology of the late 19th century (telegrams, phonographs, and blood transfusions) to counter the supernatural forces of Count Dracula, so does Barkeley use a GPS unit to locate ancient graves, which inexplicably the vampires cannot find on their own. Prouty seamlessly blends his new vampire characters into the well-established Transylvanian myth, complete with plausible explanations and descriptions of their origins and physiology. So convincing are these creatures that the reader will turn the page with no concern about fact-checking. Indeed, this is a real page-turner, and I quite enjoyed it as such. But to get the most out of the story, and because I am by nature a fact-checker, I read it again, to sort through any inconsistencies and separate fact from creative license. Suffice it to say, many “facts” within Prouty’s novel can be loosely linked to truths. In my opinion, this detracts nothing; rather, I am impressed with the author’s ability to concoct such a believable pseudo-reality. For example, I believe the publishing house fire that destroyed Bram’s intended prologue and epilogue was simply added by Prouty to existing rumors to frame the story. Bram did keep notes over the seven years he wrote Dracula, which now reside at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, Pa., while the one known typed Dracula manuscript is in a private collection on the West Coast. The closest thing to a prologue is the short story entitled “Dracula’s Guest,” released after Bram’s death. Bram’s altered ending to Dracula, which appears in the typed manuscript, likely inspired Prouty’s epilogue, because to date, no mention of any true epilogue has been found. Stoker’s Manuscript illustrates the Dracula legacy: confounding coincidences of history, missing documents, and unanswerable questions about Bram Stoker’s intentions. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Literary Group (June) Dacre Stoker, a great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker, is the coauthor of Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton, 2009) and co-editor of Bram Stoker’s Lost Journal (Robson, 2012).
Library Journal
Prouty’s debut novel takes readers on a frightening journey through modern-day Romania, where myths become reality when rare-book expert Joseph Barkeley uncovers the secrets of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Joseph is called upon to acquire Stoker’s original manuscript and bring it to Transylvania, where he is then kept captive by the buyer, Dalca Drakula, who wants him to decipher clues in the novel. As Joseph discovers, the family not only existed in reality but still remains a prevalent shadow in Transylvania.

Verdict Drawing on actual events that surrounded the 1897 publication of Stoker’s masterpiece, Prouty’s tale captivates with chilling and just enough blood-soaked scenes to intrigue but not overwhelm the reader. It is packed with historical references and asides, which add richness and depth even for readers who are not history buffs. The relationships among characters are believable, but the protagonists, especially Joseph, are flatly drawn and lack chemistry, making it hard for readers to get attached. While this title is not recommended for those with weak stomachs, fans of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian will enjoy this outing, which might even inspire them to reread Stoker’s novel.—Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
California resident Prouty's debut novel will stoke the interest of Dracula lovers everywhere. Joseph Barkeley seems like an ordinary guy leading an uneventful life. He owns a used bookstore in Chicago and is an expert in authenticating manuscripts. One day, he is offered a great deal of money to locate missing parts of Bram Stoker's original Dracula manuscript, an assignment that takes him to Romania, where he and his brother had been orphaned. The yoke of communism has been lifted, and underneath remains a countryside that is still fearful of vampires and the undead. Although Barkeley knows Stoker's novel is fiction, it turns out to be more factual than he might have expected. Soon, a vampire is out to get him. Barkeley, a Christian, wears a crucifix, but that may not be enough to save him. Prouty offers vivid descriptions of ancient castles and graveyards. The prose is prim and never off-color, sprinkled with Romanian phrases to add exotic flavor to the conversations. Expect some violence--what's a vampire novel without a few impaled bodies?--but it's not especially graphic. And forget about sex, except for brief mention of a marital coupling in the privacy of a crypt. As for Barkeley, he blushes at the thought of a pretty woman being attracted to him. In all, a fun read, well-plotted but with no stunning revelations. An obvious choice for fans of Dracula and Frankenstein and for anyone whose reading tastes extend into the realm of superstition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425269794
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
316,659
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
A Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award finalist for best first novel!

"[A]lmost impossible not to keep reading. Prouty’s careful, sometimes daring mingling of history and legend with fiction makes for a tantalizing novel in which he interweaves, to great effect, some of the mysteries surrounding the genesis of Dracula’s writing."—John Edgar Browning, editor of The Forgotten Writings of Bram Stoker

"Prouty’s debut, a riveting novel of supernatural suspense, deftly mixes fact and fiction involving the manuscript of Bram Stoker’s great vampire novel, Dracula."—Dacre Stoker, coauthor of Dracula the Un-Dead

"Prouty’s debut novel will stoke the interest of Dracula lovers everywhere."—Kirkus Reviews

 

Meet the Author

Royce Prouty is a CPA and business consultant. He and his wife live in Southern California. Stoker’s Manuscript is his first novel.

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Stoker's Manuscript 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Moody_Blue More than 1 year ago
I was hesitant about this novel but SO glad I gave it a try. I love vampire lore, esp. the original Dracula, and this novel sticks to historical and fictional accounts equally. The melding of 2 worlds is perfectly portrayed as well as the narrator's personal struggles vs. the struggles of the Dracul family. I loved reading this book and it went very fast. I found myself reading it in 2 days, just needing to know how it ended. Bravo!
arbjamesAJ More than 1 year ago
If you're a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula, then Stoker's Manuscript is a must-read.  As the name of the book implies, Stoker's original manuscript features prominently in the narrative as the main character, Joseph Barkeley, a rare book and manuscript expert, is hired to 1) authenticate it, and 2) broker a deal to purchase it from a museum for a mysterious, unnamed client.  When Barkeley agrees, he doesn't realize that it will change his life irrevocably.  The mysterious client is someone, no, something, Joseph never imagined existed, and Stoker's manuscript contains the clues that lead to what he most desires.  Either Joseph will decode the clues and find it, or he will die.  Of course, once he's "outlived his usefulness," he'll still die.  What a choice!  As Joseph stalls, he does indeed begin to decode the manuscript, but unexpectedly, along the way he also discovers that he is much more a part of this whole situation than he ever imagined.  Can he unravel the mystery and save himself and those he loves? The atmosphere created in this book was very reminiscent of that in Stoker's Dracula.  Some aspects of the story also echo Stoker's plot, such as Joseph's "stay" in Dracula's castle (paralleling that of Jonathan Harker).  Prouty also presents a completely different take on vampires from any that I have read elsewhere.  These creatures are not sparkly or handsome or anything remotely appealing (they even stink).  Of course, others have also depicted vampires in this light, but it's Prouty's ideas about vampire reproduction that I found interesting and different.  There are warring factions of vampires, and apparently what has caused the in-fighting is essentially breeding rights.  Vampire females are in short supply, and it seems that the preferred method of revenge is stealing and burying your rival's wife.   As a librarian and archivist, I found all the library, archive, and museum parts (because of course, Joseph has to do his research!) interesting.  Prouty put the events surround Stoker's manuscript into context by also connecting them with the work of Tesla.  
lotsofpuppies More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!!!  Joseph Barkeley lives a quiet life surrounded by his first edition and rare books. That is, until he receives a phone call from a mysterious buyer offering him the deal of a lifetime. He is to acquire the original manuscript of Bram Stoker's Dracula including the mysteriously unpublished prologue and epilogue and hand deliver them to the client...in Romania. Thus sets up a very intriguing tale where the past meets the present and the myths collide with reality. A great book! I read it in 2 days. I am hoping Mr. Prouty is working on a sequel.
Becky-Books More than 1 year ago
Definitely keeps you reading. I want to first say that this was not a creative story, but it was well written and kept you turning the pages. The author took historical facts, used the story in Bram Stoker's original novel, and other pieces of trivia and developed a book that you couldn't put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great escape from the watered downvampires of today
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AliceGrace More than 1 year ago
The whole idea behind Stoker’s Manuscript was really intriguing for me. I started reading this around a time when I was kind of sick of a lot of books told in first person. I went into it thinking it would probably be written in third person, so I was surprised when it turned out to be first person. This was in no way detrimental though. In fact, one of the reasons why I loved it so much was because I was reading first person without feeling like I was reading it. It had the flow of first person but the quality of third person writing, which I’ve always felt is usually of higher quality. There were many echoes of Dracula all throughout Stoker's Manuscript without it feeling like a knock off. It truly felt like Mr. Prouty was paying homage to Stoker's original novel by including small details like how the vampire's fingernails were filed and (my personal favorite) the quote, "The dead travel fast." Like Mr. Harker, Mr. Barkeley is kept at Bran Castle on the pretense of business, well... at first that is. Even the smell was almost the same. Mr. Prouty's vampires smelt worse, but even a detail like that was kept. There were even some things I noticed that I'm not sure were intentional or not but were very interesting. When Dracula drives Mr. Harker up to the castle, he placed plum brandy under the seat for him; and, at the end of Stoker's Manuscript, Mr. Barkeley is given plum brandy. Stoker's Manuscript definitely carried a feel to it that reminded me a lot of when I read Dracula. The writing felt very precise, much like the characters. The mix of historical fact and fiction was fantastically done! As for the dialogue, I actually found myself reading it aloud just so I could get the full of effect of what the characters were saying and how they said it. Or, rather, how I imagined them saying it. It was definitely awesome trying (and failing) to mimic the Romanian accents. One thing that really struck me was the explanation behind vampires. It was unexpected but the concept was very interesting and intellectually stimulating for me. And it was written in a way that made it easy to understand. Loved it. Mr. Barkeley’s past was very interesting. I really enjoyed the preludes in the beginning of some of the chapters. They gave you more information about Mr. Barkeley and really painted a picture of him (and whatever else they were about). I was always secretly worried that they were going to be boring but they never were. I found them very interesting. Mr. Prouty did an excellent job creating the setting. I could perfectly see the mud-caked, dirty streets as the rain poured or after it had finished. As a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I felt Royce Prouty paid homage to this amazing novel while still making Stoker’s Manuscript his own story. I was a little worried it might in some way be a kind of rip off and disgrace to Dracula but I was pleasantly surprised and pleased. All in all, this is a novel I would recommend to anyone whose read Dracula or who is just looking for a good old-fashioned vampire novel. The vampires we were able to get to know, were both different but sinister in their own way.
CaliforniaLibrarian More than 1 year ago
This was a real page turner! I breezed through this book, unable to put it down. The story was interesting and the characters had a nice depth to them. The author definitely left room for a sequel, which I eagerly await.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I started this book, I found it hard to put down. Finished it in one day. I thought that the first half of the book was more interesting, and more polished, than the last half. The last portion of the book also felt a little rushed. Much different take on the vampire world than other novels I've read. All in all, a very good first novel and well worth your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say the first 100 or so pages were very good. Enjoyed learning about Joseph's profession and the premise of the story was extremely interesting but then..... everything seemed to become "too much". Too much information about everything - his traveling to so many different sites in Romania and constantly going back and forth, so many characters to keep up with, so many clues that just got way to jumbled up and confusing, for me anyway. Maybe it just wasn't my genre even though I do like the original Dracula by Bram Stoker. Maybe I'll re-read someday and get a different take.