Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

‘Tis the season for weddings, graduations, and…True Blood. Yes, possibly the campiest, most over the top show on television has returned. Mixing the joyous tears of lifelong commitment and sentimentality* with celebrations marking the easiest years of your life, there is a dash of vampire re-resurrection and rapidly aging human-fae babies thrown in for good measure – all with questionable music choices. So…

It’s all about balance**. Obviously.

When I received Stoker’s Manuscript***, I was hesitant and intrigued. My hesitance was because, while I like a good vampire novel as much as the next person, I am also tired of the romanticization of vampires. They are dead creatures that feast on a human host, causing harm to said host. Do we need to revisit the definition of parasite? Because sexual activity involving parasites has a distinct lack of appeal for me (no need to point out that I watch the epitome of smutty vampire television, I’m already well aware of how I spend my Sunday nights), it was with both relief and glee when I discovered that Stoker’s Manuscript would not involve intimate interludes with deceased individuals (well…not quite) – the protagonist has little in the way of romantic ambitions. In the early pages of the novel we learn that Joseph is uncomfortable with intimacy and prefers the company of books, in fact, he has a special gift involving paper that will change the course of his life.


Stoker’s Manuscript is Royce Prouty’s debut novel and while is doesn’t break fresh ground in the lore of vampire traditions, it doesn’t suck either. The novel centers on intelligent loner Joseph Barkeley, a rare manuscript expert who’s hired to authenticate the original draft of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although the prospective buyer is mysterious and reclusive, Joseph doesn’t heed the warnings of those around him and personally delivers the manuscript to Bran Castle in Romania. To his horror, he only realizes how much is at stake  when he is imprisoned by Vlad Dracul’s son. To preserve his life, he needs to remain useful by analyzing cryptic messages hidden in the novel’s text. In doing so, he discovers that his trip to Romania might not be so coincidental after all. Based on actual events surrounding the publication of Dracula, Stoker’s Manuscript reads as if part historical account, part vampire legend, yet entirely compelling fiction.

Drawing on the classic vampire tale, Prouty’s unique take on the mysteries surrounding Dracula’s publication creates a notable debut novel. Stoker’s Manuscript is likely to appeal to those who – like me – love a good vampire story. And what’s not to love? There’s travel, conflict, ancient evil, family feuds, secret histories, and an unlikely hero. While it may not win the favor of the average True Blood lover, it is a welcome respite to the vampire paranormal romance trend and a solid summer read. 4/5, recommended for vampire aficionados.

Good books aside, you have to admit that graduations and weddings are not known for their stellar music selections. Leading up to my graduation, I heard Green Day’s ‘Time of Your Life’ more than I care to remember. At weddings, I’ve heard my fair share of ‘At Last’ and ‘Everything I Do (I Do It for You)’. So the real question is not whether you love True Blood, adore undead romance, or believe I should offer an apology for my bad puns above – the real question is what was your wedding song (if, of course, you are married or engaged)?

Admittedly a bit of a stretch on the recipe front…

There’s very little in the way of desirable food references, although there are few instances of delicious bread being served. Due to the bread references (and because everyone’s favorite cannibal loves a side of fava beans, not to mention vampires and their affinity for blood oranges), I am recommending Bruschetta with Fava Beans, Greens, and Blood Oranges.

 *I realize this statement can be interpreted as bitter, but I actually find weddings to be beautiful. The idea of committing your life to someone is very romantic. However, given I’m in the latter half of my twenties, the number of weddings I’ve attended is staggering.
**Yes, I’m trying to justify watching truly bad television. Don’t pretend that you don’t too.
***I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.


17 thoughts on “Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

  1. I always find it funny that people who supposedly do their research still seem to think that Bran was Dracula’s castle. Not so. Dracula’s actual castle is no longer standing, and while he did once visit Bran he was there for less than a week.


    1. I think the book gets it right, it said the Dracula was only a visitor there (not that it was his home). Although I suppose either way, the author has creative license…


    1. Lovely choice! I’ve never seen Moulin Rouge (I did just youtube the song though) and now I feel like I should go watch it – so thanks…? I think…


      1. Sounds very Baz Luhrmann (as it should). I liked Romeo and Juliet in all its ridiculousness, hated Australia, but absolutely adored Strictly Ballroom. So I could love it. Or hate it. But I’ll never hate Ewan McGregor (even after Angels & Demons and A Life Less Ordinary) so that bodes well.


    1. That is one of my favorite love songs of all time – excellent choice. I really have no idea what I would pick if I ever did have a wedding (that would be a candidate though), I’m much more of a city hall/elopement type of person…


  2. Annddddd another one to add to my TBR pile. 🙂
    While I am still only engaged (1 year and counting) I haven’t even begun to plan. Because apparently I’m content with being engaged for the rest of time. Sadly, the first song that does pop into my head to choose is the Bryan Adams song because I’ve only watched Robin Hood a bazillion times since it came out… when I was like 7 or something. It’s a goodie but admittedly over-used.


    1. It’s overused because it’s a good choice for a lot of couples, my problem with wedding music usually centers on songs such as ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Say Hey’. If the song means something to you, use it. That movie came out when I was about 7 as well, but I never understood the appeal of Kevin Costner in the film though – terrible hair…

      And I’ve long since decided that, aside from legally, there’s no real difference between being engaged and married, so being engaged for the rest of time is a legitimate option – give it a few more years and you’ll be common law married anyway. I’ve always maintained that I never wanted a traditional wedding (I get unnerved by the thought of that many people watching me, waiting for me to cry or something), but I found myself looking at the J. Crew bridal section the other day, good stuff (like this one)…(I don’t even know why I included that last bit, maybe a shout out to J. Crew ;))


    1. It has a bit of a slow start, but it’s worth sticking it out (at least I think so)! Happy reading, I hope you vacation was fun. You did visit the British Library, right? (jealous…)


  3. Ours was “So into You” by Atlanta Rhythm Section. It’s an odd choice and an old song but we really wanted something that wasn’t your typical wedding song used, used, and over-used. My second choice was “I can see clearly now” by Johnny Nash which is an all-time favorite song. We really wanted a small wedding, especially with ours a second wedding for both of us but with an Italian family and a Greek family coming together it wasn’t going to happen. We are still receiving comments that ours was the best wedding they’d ever been to and that makes us happy that we include so many.

    Oh yeah, about the book. Vampires are not my thing but I mentioned on a previous post I read The Historian and enjoyed it. Stoker’s Manuscript sounds intriguing to me because it’s vampire history and not vampire romance.


    1. I actually really like both of those songs. I was attempting to test out a mini-theory, that bookish people would choose interesting songs for life events (marriage being the most common one) – so far, I love everyone’s picks.

      Being from Greek and Italian families, you two weren’t going to get away with a small wedding! I think if I could pick anything, I would choose a New York City Hall wedding (that’s if I couldn’t get married on a Swedish island somewhere…). I’m half Greek, but everyone in my family (save one uncle) has passed away, so no pressure from that side.

      I think of the two, The Historian (which I have not read) has been received more favorably. That being said, this is a solid book.


  4. I’m not much for vampires so will probably skip this. I’ve been married for 34 years but we didn’t have a wedding song. Our reception was a simple affair in my parents’ home.


  5. I would love to read this!! I loved Dracula and enjoy some vampire books, but not all. Wedding song…Evergreen by Barbara Streisand 🙂 been married twenty years.


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