Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for each other to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will.
Like Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula,Stoker’s Wildeis told from multiple characters’ points of view through letters, journal entries, news clippings and audio transcripts. These documents are gathered together by a shadowy organization known as The White Worm Society.
As the story progresses, and our heroes battle werewolves, vampires, and the chains of Victorian morals, each author gets his inspiration for their future works: Bram for Draculaand Lair of the White Wormand Oscar for The Picture of Dorian Gray.
The action starts in a dark forest in Ireland, moves through the upper-class London theater world and culminates in an exciting showdown at Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.
Oscar and Bram first reluctantly team up to defeat a werewolf on a hunting party with the famous explorer Richard Burton. The hunt awakens Bram’s inexplicable ability to sense the supernatural, a power he has suppressed since childhood and that he feels may be demonic. He definitely wishes the likes of Oscar Wilde had not discovered his secret.
Putting monster hunting behind him and settling back down to a quiet life in Dublin, Bram finds himself attracted to Oscar's fiancee, Florence Balcombe. After the great actor Henry Irving offers Bram a job managing his theatre in London, the young couple elope and run off together to start their new lives in England.
Still feeling the sting of Bram and Florence's betrayal, Oscar also moves to London to pursue his artistic career. However, he and Bram are drawn together again after they each find their lives torn apart by a vampire cult led by a villain known only as “The Black Bishop.”
Florence's friend Lucy has taken ill and Bram suspects a vampire may be feeding off her.
Oscar’s new friend Derrick longs to join a shadowy cult known as “The Order of the Golden Dawn,” that promises ever-lasting youth – but at what cost?
As they investigate these mysteries, it becomes clear that there is far more at stake than their friends’ lives. Despite their disdain for one another, Bram and Oscar must come together to stop the Black Bishop’s plan to unseat the Queen and take control of the Empire.
From Publisher’s Weekly
“Morbid and fascinating” is how a character aptly sums up the events of this entertaining supernatural mash-up. Employing the entwined lives of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker as a springboard, Hopstaken and Prusi weave their weird tale from imagined occult experiences that might have influenced the 19th-century authors to write, respectively, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula. This includes their efforts to thwart a decadent splinter sect of the Order of the Golden Dawn, obsessed with achieving immortality, that has been transformed into a horde of vampires infiltrating London under the guidance of the nefarious Black Bishop. The novel is briskly paced, owing in part to its fast-cutting epistolary format, and the authors enliven the plot by introducing characters who clearly anticipate those who will appear in Stoker and Wilde’s tales, as well as real-life celebrities including Ellen Terry, Lillie Langtry, and Sir Richard Burton. Hopstaken and Prusi have done their homework and produced a pleasing period penny dreadful. (May)
Net Galley Member Review ***** (5 stars)
Leigh W, Reviewer
Before I start, I have a confession to make. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favourite books of all time. Having read the premise, I was rather dubious about Stoker’s Wilde, and was half expecting to hate it, but I needn’t have worried – it was excellent. A fictionalised (one assumes) Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde receive their first introduction to the world of the supernatural when a distinguished friend of the Wilde family invites them on a hunt for the killer of a young barmaid in Ireland, cementing their reluctant connection. Despite their best efforts, later events in London bring them back together in order to fight a much greater threat. The novel is written in epistolary form, as a series of letters, diary entries and other documents, and this method of story-telling along with the style of writing remind me very much of Dracula. The authors have obviously done a lot of research on Stoker, and have seamlessly woven events from his life into the storyline. I’m not particularly au fait with Wilde’s life or works, so can’t say the same for his storyline, but it fit with what little I know. Some of the other main characters are taken from real life or related fiction, and trying to remember who and what came from where ticked along in the back of my mind whilst I was reading. All in all, a very enjoyable read. I really didn’t want it to end. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.