countdracula-roderickanscombeThis was a difficult book to review. I was obviously drawn to the title of this book, but confess it has spent quite a few years on my book shelf gathering dust. There are many pluses and minuses to this piece of work, so I’ll work through them the best I can.

Firstly, at face value this was an exciting-looking Gothic horror novel, and I’m sure it was meant to look as such. Gothic it certainly is, which is a plus for me, but a horror it is not. That was an immediate disappointment that became apparent after only an hour or two of reading.

In spite of that, and this book not being what I anticipated it to be, I read on. I loved the 19th Century setting of this book and especially the archaic writing style of Mr Anscombe. That was the real highlight of this work and he has a skill that cannot be disputed.

As for the story itself, though I hate to give anything away in a review, I will say this. I did not feel anything positive for the lead character at all. He was dark, and certainly evil, but impossible to like in any way. All I could feel was sympathy for those he came into contact with and by that, I mean all of them. He self-loathed himself throughout and claimed in his journal he wanted to be caught, yet he still allowed one hapless soul after another to take the fall for him. This culminated with the very nasty, but very clever finish to the book where he remained true to form. The biggest disappointment is that he never got what he deserved, but perhaps that is a credit to the author in making me feel that way.

There was one fatal error in the story. An entry in his journal for April, 1888 gave mention to a conversation at the dinner table where it was suggested the killer might be another Jack the Ripper. The Whitechapel murders attributed to Jack the Ripper began around four months later.

Another real drawback for me was the amount of errors in grammar and spelling. If this were a self-published book, I could accept that, but for a book published by Bloomsbury, to have over twenty such errors, some of them repeated, is very poor indeed. I give this 3 out 5, mainly for the quality of Mr Anscombe’s excellent writing style.

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