by Royce Prouty

When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

My Rating: * * *

My Review:

Joseph Barkeley has always had a knack for spotting rare editions in crowded used bookstores, and is able to tell if a manuscript is genuine without the need for any chemical testing. It’s an ability that makes him the subject of Arthur Ardelean’s search for the right man to verify the authenticity of the original draft of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and to negotiate its purchase if its authenticity is established.Joseph Barkeley leads a comfortable life after a rocky childhood. He and his brother were orphaned in their native Romania after their father murdered their mother. They were rescued from an orphanage and sent to be raised by nuns in Chicago.When Joseph receives a call inquiring about hiring him to authenticate an annotated manuscript for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it sounds like a challenging and enjoyable opportunity.
But it becomes increasingly clear, as Joseph moves through the steps to complete the transaction, that this job is going to be neither simple nor straightforward. And Joseph’s decision to accept this job will come to threaten everyone and everything he knows.
Over all this was a well written story with the right amount of chilling moments. The history is interesting, and the only thing that bothered me is I wish Joseph had been more likable. His character seemed kind of bland.

Royce Prouty

Patrick Royce Prouty is a CPA, business consultant, and Harley-Davidson enthusiast. He and his wife live in Southern California. Stoker’s Manuscript is his first novel.

“Lost in the night, somewhere, there is all that once was and no more is, what got lost, what was uprooted, from living time to time that’s muted.
― Royce Prouty, Stoker’s Manuscript

“I lived in a place where the weather holds a grudge against humans. Winter in Chicago is winter defined (..)”
― Royce Prouty, Stoker’s Manuscript