Before you start this book, you have to know what you’re getting into. As the title indicates, it’s a rewriting of Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo with an occult slant. As such, it needs to be reviewed in two parts.
As a Historical Work of Art
This is a pretty impressive homage to Alexandre Dumas and the 19th Century French novel. Robinson has the writing style and the mood down pat. Those not familiar with that literature will find the book heavy to narrative and light to dialogue. Those who know the style will find less of the detailed descriptive content than the originals contained. I got the impression that this author paid lip service to Dumas’ themes, but was more interested in exploring his own, which are perhaps more interesting to the modern reader.
As a Modern Novel.
As long as the heavy narrative style doesn’t bother you, this book works very well. Personally, I applaud the light touch on description. We are different readers these days, used to multiple visual media, and we don’t have the same hunger as people had 200 years ago for the description of faraway places. The occult element fits seamlessly into the original plotline, and the mummies, vampires and zombies are kept firmly under control. Magical powers are restricted to a few characters, so the occult does not overwhelm the rest of the story. In general, the plot flows well, though not rapidly by modern standards, using the characters and conflicts (of which there are many) to keep the reader enthralled.
This is a lo-o-o-ng book. 110 chapters, not all of them short. On my desktop, over a thousand pages. The plot elapses over two generations and about 50 years. New characters are introduced constantly, especially in the first half, each with his or her own plotline. However, the empathy readers develop with the positive characters and the fascinating portrayal of the villains keep us tuned in from beginning to end.
The only element of modern writing I wish the book followed more closely is control of point of view. When you have so many characters, some with similar names, switching POV several times in one chapter with no clue from the author tends to mix us up. They did it in the old days because they didn’t know any better. We do now.
Once I got tuned in to the style of the writing, I enjoyed the novel immensely. Highly recommended for fans of the occult and of old-style novels.