Penny Dreadful: Review: Dracula/Frankenstein/Dorian Gray

dorianBy Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde

Titan Books, out now

The original stories which inspired the hit series…

Sad as it may be to accept, it’s now the case that in these days when books of such age are easily available in electronic form perfectly legally, there has to be some reason for spending a few quid on a copy of Dracula, Frankenstein or The Picture of Dorian Gray rather than simply downloading them.

Showtime, the producers of Penny Dreadful, and Titan have gone to town with these editions, printing them on heavier paper, providing a book mark, and, most importantly, adding illustrations by artists specially chosen by the series’ executive producer, John Logan. Some are direct illustrations of incidents, others are more impressionistic, but all are linked to the text of the stories, rather than trying to tie in with the TV series. Ian Bass (Dorian), Martin Stiff (Dracula) and Louie de Martinis (Frankenstein) each have their own distinctive style, yet there’s a continuity across the three books, and there’s not a weak picture in the trio.

The stories themselves should need little discussion – all three are books which people believe they know, but in fact, they are more likely to be familiar with the film or TV versions of the tale. Shelley’s novel rarely is adapted directly – the Big Finish version is close, but even that makes a number of changes; much of Stoker’s Dracula disappears in other versions; the concept of Wilde’s Gray is probably much better known than the beats of the story. If you’re reading a site like Sci-Fi Bulletin and you haven’t read the original tales, then pick up these versions!

Verdict: A lavish presentation of three classic genre tales. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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