October 31, 2016

Book Review: Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Source: Vine

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.

Stoker's Manuscript is exactly the kind of historical/supernatural thriller that I love. The premise yields all sorts of possiblities: what if, within the original, lost manuscript of one of the most famous horror books of all time, lies proof that Vlad Tepes existed? But not only that - what if within its excised narrative is the key to the proliferation of vampires in the modern day?

Joseph Barkeley, a rare books dealer, is hired by a mysterious, but very rich client from Transylvania to make sure that the original manuscript of Bram Stoker's Dracula is authentic and if so, to purchase it and deliver it in person. The unusual conditions surrounding this purchase puts Joseph on alert, but like all flawed heroes, the pull of curiosity and of money is too much. He accepts and once he does, so starts a terrifying journey wherein his life and the lives of his friends and family are put in danger.

"'There's danger there, a type not like here. You won't like what you see, Joseph, and you'll never be able to purge it from your memory.'

"'Can I have your blessing?'

"'If only I could,' he said. 'Where you are going, God's eyes do not watch.'"

Prouty mixes historical and pseudo-historical "facts" with his own unique vampire mythology in addition to incorporating traditional vampire lore. Although filled with tension and horror, I enjoyed reading narratives describing Barkeley's exploration of Transylvania, its customs and people.

The plot is fast-moving and does live up to its inspiration; there are the very creepy scenes which escalated to graphic ones that are so horrifying I can still see them in my mind even now.

I was confused with some of the details and at times I just thought for someone so smart, how can Barkeley not see some of this stuff coming? However, I was truly riveted from the first page until the last.


  1. By way of introduction, I am the author of Stoker's Manuscript. Just wanted to drop you a note of gratitude, first, for selecting my book & taking the time to read it; and secondly, for your kind words. I had a great time writing it. Working on the second in the series now, as well as other projects.
    - Royce Prouty

  2. Thank you for commenting on my review. I am very much looking forward to the sequel!