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I'm a big Dan Simmons fan, though admittedly more a fan of his horror than his award winning science fiction (I'm talking about you, Hyperion). His new book Drood seems like a horror novel, with Charles Dickens and his sidekick, novelist Wilkie Collins, searching London for a disfigured criminal mastermind with supernatural powers. Told in first person by Wilkie, it quickly becomes clear that opium addiction leaves him a particularly unreliable narrator, though to what extent it remains unclear. There are some genuine jumps and starts, some fascinating revelations and intriguing developments, but this massive book ultimately devotes many more pages to Simmons' scholarly research on Dickens than it does on moving the story along. Ultimately, there are so many great plot threads that were simply cast aside and never revisited, and so many others that were never explained to any reasonable satisfaction, I've got to give Drood a bitter thumbs down. Not only did it fail to satisfy like I've come to expect from Simmons, it left me with the sense that he had wasted my time with a very, very long shaggy dog story. If Simmons feels, like Stephen King so often apparently does, that he needs to write a serious piece of fiction that's lighter on the monsters, I would urge them both to resist the temptation.
I never thought I would learn so much about Keats. He's not nearly as cool as Simmons lead me to believe. But the Shrike was fucking awesome!
in the Priest's tale. That was the high point.
Off to see the wizard was the low point.