Fiction Reviews


Land of the Dead
A Stokerís Wilde Novel

(2022) Steven Hopstaken & Melissa Prusi, Flame Tree Press, £12.95 / Can$21.95 / US$16.95, trdpbk, 297pp, ISBN 978-1-787-58641-3

 

Book three in the 'Stokerís Wilde' series following Stokerís Wilde and Stokerís Wilde West, is more of what we have come to expect, namely a typically fast-moving tale in epistolary form, comprising of archivist notes, reports, diary and journal extracts, letters, police reports newspaper articles, memos and even society columns.

Following the events in book two, Stokerís Wilde West, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde are back on home soil and getting on with their lives, mundane as they hopefully will be, with a theatre to be managed and a wedding to be planned, unfortunately mad scientists and witches soon get in the way as Victor Mueller strives to bring his dead wife back to life, while medium Lorna Bow is about to get a surprise visit from her mother whom she thought was dead, and an even bigger surprise when she learns she comes from a long line of witches, with all the powers that brings. Soon she is caught up in her motherís quest for vengeance, and while dear mama has a score to settle, so do many of the resurrected souls who have come back from the Land of the Dead which doesnít sound like the sort of place you would want to visit, but our two heroes have no choice as another adventure beckons.

If things werenít complicated enough, Bram has vampire blood flowing through him thanks to his association with actor Henry Irvine, and that blood makes him a target for Victor Mueller in his quest to resurrect his wife who has been kept on ice until he can bring her back to life, while Oscar has problems of his own as apart from an upcoming marriage, he is trying to cure his brother of his slight werewolf problem. They really donít need a mad scientist wanting to make the Stoker Serum out of Bramís blood, while Lorna becomes involved in her motherís scheme to bring the dead back into the living, at a price, of course.

Thus unfolds a chain of events that sets our two heroes racing across the continents, and beyond, with some familiar faces such as Bramís wife, Florence, and Oscarís fiancé, Constance, but there is also the chance to link up with some old friends in the shape of Richard Burton and Teddy Roosevelt, and since you can never have enough writers and scientist involved we also get Arthur Conan Doyle and Nicola Tesla thrown into a very tasty mix, which also includes a sprinkling of activity from the shadowy organisation known as the White Worms.

This third novel in the series is another ripping yarn, fast-paced and driven by multiple viewpoints told through the diaries, journals, letters, etc., that are dotted throughout the book. As usual, the characters are well-fleshed out, particularly the newbies such as Mueller and Lorna. but unusually this is easily a book that could be read on its own without having read the two previous books in the series, but where is the fun in that? If you like historical, supernatural fantasy then this is the book, and the series, is for you.

Ian Hunter

 


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