7.5/10 – I received an advance reading copy of Stoker’s Wilde West in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Steven Hopstaken, Melissa Prusi, and Flame Tree Press.
It was great to rejoin Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and Henry Irving as they end up tackling more supernatural threats. This time they travel to the American West following a request for aid from their friend Robert Roosevelt and his nephew Theodore. (That’s a statement that I never thought I’d say prior to reading these books!)
In a similar fashion to how Stoker’s classic horror Dracula is presented, Stoker’s Wilde West is an epistolary novel. It is set in 1882 and compiles the details that relate to the California incident. These events are recorded via diary and journal entries, letters, telegrams, meeting transcripts, etc…
The main point of view perspectives that we follow are those of Oscar, Bram, and Florence. The viewpoints of Oscar and Bram are as different as their characters. Bram as a narrator is reliable and thorough. He has excellent memory recall and therefore paints an almost perfect picture of events. Oscar’s diary is full of heightened imagery, expert wit, and dashes of humour, whilst often reporting how many times he has saved Stoker’s life.
“It has become tiring saving Stoker’s life so many times but for the sake of Florrie and Noel, I must do it at least once more.”
Although they are completely different, they make an extremely enjoyable duo to follow, and even though they fall out and argue as often as they slay a vampire there is definitely a grudging respect between the two and, as a reader, we know that they like each other more than they let on. Florence’s perspective was one of my few negatives from Stoker’s Wilde. I stated that I tended to rush her sections to get back to what I considered the better parts. In Stoker’s Wilde West she has developed into a great character herself. She’s become strong of mind, self-reliant, intuitive and just as great to follow Bram and Oscar. She develops an interesting friendship with Calamity Jane throughout their journey too. Further examples of the perspectives compiled in Stoker’s Wilde West include White Worm Agent Cora Chase, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and Bass Reeves.
Stoker’s Wilde West is a sequel to Stoker’s Wilde and refers to those events quite frequently. This novel is a better read having read the previous book but I believe it could be enjoyed as a standalone too. Stoker’s Wilde West is a great piece of vampire-hunting historical fiction that is written like a classic. It exceeds the already pretty high standards set by Stoker’s Wilde by the two authors. I did enjoy the setting in America that was presented here a lot. It felt like a different world to the Dublin and London we saw in the first book.
Hopstaken and Prusi have obviously put a lot of research into these novels and it really shines. There are many nuggets and easter eggs for fans of classic literature. For example, it was a great moment when I recognised a famous real-life Oscar Wilde quote that was used in a casual conversation with Bram Stoker here. Stoker’s Wilde West is a well-written horror novel using some of the most famous people from Victorian times as the main characters. It contains moments of terror, deep fears, action-focused set pieces, touching scenes between characters, arcane magic, a vampire gunslinger, and a business tycoon who believes he is looking to find Eden. The ending was exciting and well worked and it nicely sets up the possibility of a third entry in this series. Stoker’s Wilde West is, quite simply, an addictive, clever and extremely fun horror adventure.