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Drood is a Historical Fantasy novel by Dan Simmons, featuring Charles Dickens. It's told from the point of view of his friend and fellow author Wilkie Collins and is about the last 5 years of Dickens's life, written as a memoir by Collins to be read 125 years after his death. The name is taken from the title of Dickens's last, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Drood is also a mass murder that inspired Dickens's original tale. Or was he?
Guillermo del Toro is reported to be planning a film adaptation.
This novel provides examples of:
- Arranged Marriage: Wilkie forces the woman with whom he's lived as husband and wife for many years into one of these to get her out of his hair. The guy she marries turns out to be horribly abusive. Wilkie doesn't care, although at the end he helps her kill her husband, then he takes her back.
- The Chessmaster: Drood. Assuming he exists.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Hoo boy. Wilkie's views on race, sex, and class are all utterly abhorrent by today's standards. Not to mention the usage of old-fashioned terms like "Chinee," "Moslem," and "Hindoo." Dickens is even more racist than Wilkie, but his views on class are fair for their day.
- Driven to Madness: Wilkie. Possibly.
- Eldritch Abomination: Whatever the spirits are that live in Wilkie's house. One of them eats Wilkie's serving girl. Drood also has elements of this, at least at first.
- Face Heel Turn: Not that he was really a face to begin with, but it's not until Wilkie starts plotting to kill Dickens (and actually does kill his simple-minded serving girl) that he can actually be called a heel.
- Historical Domain Character: Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins.
- Living a Double Life: Wilkie with his two girlfriends, and Dickens' work with Drood.
- Opium Den: While exploring the bowels of London (in more than one sense), Dickens and Wilkie stumble into two of these. Wilkie spends a fair amount of time in each later on.
- Secret Relationship: Wilkie maintains two: One with a woman he basically treats as his wife, but refuses to marry because he doesn't want the responsibility, the other with a much younger woman who he keeps away from the other. Dickens looked like he had one, but she turned out to be his daughter.
- Technology Marches On: Wilkie doesn't like gas lights because they're harsh and inhuman.
- Unreliable Narrator: Wilkie Collins happens to be addicted to laudanum, and, later, opium. Not to mention that Charles Dickens mesmerizes him a few pages in and never gets around to unmesmerizing him.
- Victorian London: Described from the world of fine gentlemen on down to the slums (and below) in gritty, occasionally squicky detail. Special attention is paid to the overflowing sewers and graveyards that are so overcrowded they have to stuff the corpses in on top of each other. The entire book is clearly very well-researched, and many small details of Victorian life are included along with details of both the Collins and Dickens biographies.
- Wham! Episode: When Wilkie is abducted by Drood, and has the scarab put in his chest.