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Stoker's Manuscript [Paperback]

Royce Prouty
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

A compelling modern-day thriller with the Dracula myth at its heart.

When Joseph Barkeley receives a call enlisting his services to authenticate the original draft of Bram Stoker's Dracula, he is intrigued.

Ignoring the warnings from friends and family, he agrees to return to his childhood home of Romania. And hand-deliver the manuscript to a mysterious buyer.

Once there Joseph discovers a truth more terrifying than he could ever have imagined. One that threatens to reignite a centuries-old family feud and bring down mankind with it.

And Stoker's manuscript holds the key to ending this fatal conflict once and for all.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0099574454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099574453
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 948,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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 Publisher's Weekly)

"Prouty's debut novel will stoke the interest of Dracula lovers everywhere." (Kirkus)

Book Description

A compelling modern-day thriller with the Dracula myth at its heart.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly bad book 20 Mar 2014
I loved the premise of this book and hoped it would be good, or at least readable. It's not. The protagonist is tedious beyond compare, the plot is predictable (but not as good as the one you expect), the prose is appalling, the narrative makes no sense and the ending is stunningly dull (I persevered in the hope it would improve, and felt the lifeblood sucked out of me by the turgid prose. I think i may now be undead myself, from the boredom and cliches). I am horrified that I wasted money on this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Back to Romania 24 Feb 2014
Bram Stoker's "Dracula" has been reimagined, reinvented and turned inside-out over the past century -- and with "Stoker's Manuscript," it has gone meta.

Royce Prouty's debut novel mixes fiction, fact and facts about fiction in one novel about a young man who discovers that "Dracula" may be a little too real. The novel has a lot of intriguing ideas and some heavy atmosphere, but Prouty needs a little more seasoning before he writes heavy emotional scenes. They seem a little stiff.

As a child, Joseph Barkeley and his brother were rescued from Ceaușescu's Romania, and raised in the US by nuns. He has an almost magical knack for "feeling" books' age and composition, which makes him sought-after to authenticate old, rare books.

He's hired to authenticate, purchase and deliver the original manuscript and notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula, which includes a long-lost epilogue and ending. The client is anonymous... but he lives in the legendary Bran Castle in Romania. The people around Joseph are worried about him, either because they believe the client is a vampire, or because they don't want him going back to Romania.

Well, it's pretty obvious to everyone except Joseph that the client IS none other than the legendary Dracula, and he is searching for something in the original manuscript. Soon Joseph is not only enmeshed in a nightmarish web of vampiric weirdness, but he's also being implicated for multiple murders... where the victims were impaled.

"Stoker's Manuscript" has a pretty fascinating concept -- it mixes together real-life horrors in Romania (both recent and ancient) with genuinely creepy vampire mythology.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable and a whole lotta fun. 6 Jun 2013
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
There's always a danger when a book delves into what many see as a classic that it will either ruin the original or just be seen as a story that is designed to cash in on the fame of what has gone before. What this title by Royce does is take the mythos behind the script of Stokers classic and build upon the lore pertaining to the Lords of the Undead. It's creepy, it has a real feeling of authenticity and for me, was a story that I absolutely loved as I devoured the pages to see what would happen next.

Add to this a principle character that the readers will enjoy spending time with as well as a wonderfully dark and evocative description of the landscape and all round as a reader I was more than immersed until the final page turned. Great stuff.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  76 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of The Historian 23 May 2013
By SD - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stoker fans will probably enjoy this 13 Jun 2013
By Tina Hayes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Royce Prouty's "Stoker's Manuscript" is a modern vampire story that takes an American book authenticator born in Romania back to his roots in a way he never would have imagined. Joseph Barkeley is hired to bring Bram Stoker's original manuscript to Transylvania for a very large sum of money, but why? Turns out some of the real Dracula's relatives don't want the rest of the world to find out secrets contained in the original version, and they'll stop at nothing to keep their secrets.

If you're a fan of Bram Stoker's masterpiece, as I am, I believe you'd probably enjoy this novel. The only thing I can fault is that there was a bit too much info about Joseph's study of paper. I look forward to more of Mr. Prouty's work.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Story is the Stuff of Nightmares 14 May 2013
By James R. Holland - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Although I seldom read and review fiction this story was surprisingly well written and also gave me nightmares. I couldn't believe it actually caused me to lose some much needed sleep.

Obviously that's a sign of a powerful story well told.

The story starts out relatively slowly and provides the reader with an education in the history of paper and ink making since the story's narrator is an expert in authenticating rare books and manuscripts. He has a gift for being able to know whether something is fake or real. That and other needed historical and geographical information is skillfully woven into the book's over-all plot. The information about Serbian-American Inventor Nikola Tesla and his work with A/C electricity and George Westinghouse is particularly interesting. That material actually fits seamlessly into the story when it taking place in Eastern Europe and at the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.

The book's story line very much reminds the reader of the 1999 Roman Polanski motion picture "The Ninth Gate" and because of that the reader may find him or herself visualizing Johnny Depp as the main character. That's not really a problem since the physical description of the main character resembles Johnny Depp.

It won't take the reader long to realize this isn't one of the popular Twilight Vampire movie series. There are no lovesick werewolves wailing at the moon over the loss of their Vampire girl friend.

The book is definitely a page-turner once the reader gets into it. It can easily be read in a single day and night, but this reader preferred to take his time and savor some of the interesting language the author's uses. He has a knack for summing feelings up in a way most people have not heard before.

At this relaxed pace it took this reviewer three days to read the 338-page tale. That was probably the reason for two nights of fleeting nightmares. As the author wrote in one of his many understatements, "There is something unsettling about meeting a creature not human."

Once the entire book was finished, there were no more nightmares because the story had been completed. Some of the descriptions of the birthday parties in this book will chill your blood.

This novel is so well written the reader won't be able to get enough. Fortunately for them, the possibility of at least one or two sequels is highly likely.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stoker's Manuscript 4 May 2013
By Brendan Moody - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You'd think rare book expert Joseph Barkeley would be a little suspicious. A rich, mysterious buyer has just asked him to authenticate the original manuscript for DRACULA, oversee the purchase, and deliver it... to Transylvania. But there's a lot of money at stake, and of course Barkeley, himself born in Romania, is too sensible to believe in vampires. Soon, though, he'll change his mind, and be forced to use the manuscript of the most famous vampire novel ever to discover long-buried secrets that may be his only chance to save his life. It's the premise for a crackerjack supernatural thriller, and indeed you get glimmers of how well it could have worked in other hands. But STOKER'S MANUSCRIPT is so let down by awkward prose, weak characterization, and lackluster horror sequences that it isn't remotely scary, exciting, or satisfying.

Even the title is misleading. All the "clues" in the original manuscript are material invented by author Royce Prouty and have nothing to do with Stoker's novel, which is barely relevant to this story. Rather than weave DRACULA and its history into his own ideas in a meaningful way, Prouty has taken a couple of the most basic facts about DRACULA's Romanian setting and created his own vampire mythology around them. There's nothing wrong with that, provided it's done well (and in fact some of Prouty's ideas, though underdeveloped, are neat), but those expecting a "secret history" with detailed reference to the original will be disappointed. So will those hoping for diabolically clever puzzle-solving. Barkeley works through each set of not-very-complicated clues in one undramatic rush. It's like watching someone do the TV Guide crossword.

Most of Barkeley's time is spent not on solving puzzles but on acting as a tour guide. STOKER'S MANUSCRIPT has some of the worst dumps of crude exposition I've ever seen. There's no effort to weave information into a coherent inner monologue or pace it within the flow of the larger narrative: he simply stops to lecture the reader for a couple paragraphs (or a couple pages) on history, geography, architecture, paper-making. Even when he ought to be terrified or in mourning, he can put aside his feelings to tell you how many towers a castle has. As a friend put it when I quoted a passage to him, "That sounds like a less interesting Wikipedia." Whether or not he's imitating an encyclopedia article, Barkeley speaks in the same stilted manner, as do all the other characters. Barely a page goes by without some peculiar use of language, most often due to Prouty making the beginning writer's mistake of assuming that more formal wording is better, even when it's wording no one would use the way his characters do. Sometimes the prose is downright ludicrous; I doubt, for example, that a great many Catholics refer to the box where sins are reported and absolved as "the confession booth." At times Barkeley sounds like an escapee from a bad Victorian novel: "One day I asked him what haberdashery he patronized." And an action sequence is fatally undermined when we're told that "blood pumped out like a squeezed fountain pen."

Prose like that is enormously distracting, but might be forgivable if Barkeley was an interesting protagonist. He's not. He barely has a personality. Prouty has made another first-time novelist's error: forgetting to maintain the intensity of point-of-view at all times. When the action dies down and there's no exposition to lay out, Barkeley may spend a paragraph telling (and I do mean telling, rather than showing) the reader that he's scared or curious or socially awkward, but during the narrative itself he doesn't often display the traits he's been assigned, and there's no evidence of the extreme reactions you might have to being imprisoned by a vampire or discovering terrible family secrets. Nothing has the emotional weight it should, and as a result, none of it has any impact: it's just a story you're reading, not something happening to anyone you might care about. I don't demand nuanced characterization in historical vampire novels, but there is a minimum standard for any kind of fiction, and STOKER'S MANUSCRIPT doesn't meet it.

Given this all-around artlessness, it's not surprising that the book doesn't work as horror fiction either. Stuff that tries to be scary is thin on the ground, and when it comes it falls flat due to the weakness of the prose. The villains appear only rarely, and when they do they spout the usual arrogant-monster dialogue, with none of the verbal flair that makes things like that palatable. Even when they're impaling people, the vampires aren't especially imposing. And, of course, despite their enormous tactical advantages, they make just the right mistakes to keep their enemies alive, at least for the moment. The story ends with enough dangling plot threads that a sequel is quite possible, but unless very Prouty quickly becomes a much better stylist, I won't be reading it. Even by the standards of blood-sucking thrillers, STOKER'S MANUSCRIPT is a disappointment.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Slide into the Surreal 18 May 2013
By KnC Books - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Joseph Barkeley leads a somewhat predictable life, grounded in reality and based on facts. He knows old books and manuscripts, he is an expert in his field.

Then, slowly but surely, he finds his life taking a different track into unknown territory. In the hands of novice author Royce Prouty, "Stoker's Manuscript" has going Barkeley veering off the rails entirely as he pursues the mysterious clues hidden within the first draft of Bram Stoker's ground-breaking novel.

Prouty moves his protagonist into the surreal environment of vampire-ridden Romania with care, gradually adding equal parts history and horror until the atmosphere is thick as blood. And the blood flows thickly as Barkeley struggles with his own past while trying to find a way out of his dilemma.

Through it all, author Prouty makes the transition from civilized reality to the horrific seem almost natural. The reader moves smoothly through the story, only to suddenly find himself surrounded by vampires. It is like taking a casual walk around the block, following well-known steps, only to look up and find oneself in another city, or another time, or another reality.

An excellent first novel, "Stoker's Manuscript" will have you turning pages through the night. You might want to save your reading for the daytime though.
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