Henry Irving is Victorian London’s most celebrated actor and theater impresario. He has introduced groundbreaking ideas to the theater, bringing to the stage performances that are spectacular, shocking, and always entertaining. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Bram Stoker to manage it. As Irving’s theater grows in reputation and financial solvency, he lures to his company of mummers the century’s most beloved actress, the dazzlingly talented leading lady Ellen Terry, who nightly casts a spell not only on her audiences but also on Stoker and Irving both.
Bram Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum Theatre, his early morning walks on the streets of a London terrorized by a serial killer, his long, tempestuous relationship with Irving, and the closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspire him to write DRACULA, the most iconic and best-selling supernatural tale ever published.
A magnificent portrait both of lamp-lit London and of lives and loves enacted on the stage, Shadowplay’s rich prose, incomparable storytelling, and vivid characters will linger in readers’ hearts and minds for many years.
“Funny, smart, tender, wise.”—Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon
“Joseph O’Connor’s magnificent novel does even more than fly, it soars.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
FINALIST 2019 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR,
FINALIST 2020 DALKEY LITERARY AWARD, 2020 WALTER SCOTT PRIZE
“A marvelous novel . . . Magnificent.”—Suzie Feay, Financial Times
“As much as this is a hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly—at times, agonizingly—a story of transience, loss and true loyalty.”—Sadie Jones, The Guardian
“There are few living writers who can take us back in time so assuredly, with such sensual density, through such gorgeous sentences. Joseph O’Connor is a wonder, and Shadowplay is a triumph.”—Peter Carey, author of Parrot and Olivier in America
“An ingenious novel . . . O’Connor’s work is hugely impressive and utterly haunting.”—The Sunday Mirror
“A gorgeous, gorgeous book . . . A thing of great beauty.”—Ryan Tubridy, RTE Radio
“A mesmerizing read, beautifully researched.”—Sunday Independent
“Shadowplay totally swept me away . . . It’s a bit like Moulin Rouge meets Dracula. I absolutely loved it.”—Oliver Callan, Irish Examiner
“Intensely atmospheric . . . As a romp through Ripper-ravaged London, Shadowplay is mightily entertaining. But as a meditation on hidden sexuality, it is powerful and poignant.”—The Literary Review
“O’Connor is one of the best writers working today.”—Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
“Shadowplay is wonderful. The writing is beautiful.”—Tony Award-winning actor, Derek Jacobi
“Seriously fascinating [. . .] Shadowplay displays a brilliant ear for tone and nuance, and a wonderful talent for evoking and creating drama.”—Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn
“Joseph O’Connor is a very great artist and storyteller. The quotient of enjoyment in his extraordinary new novel is stupendous.”—Sebastian Barry, author of The Secret Scripture
“A great writer performing Olympian literary storytelling.”—Bob Geldof
“A thrilling novel, exquisitely contrived to show the characters whose loves and lives inspired Dracula. A great tribute, and a work of art. Deeply affecting.”—Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist
“O’Connor’s panache and subtlety wonderfully match the gusto and creative finesse of the High Victorian world he dazzlingly evokes.”—The Sunday Times, a 2019 Best Novel of the Year
“Atmospheric and evocative . . . [O’Connor] also manages to explore with verve, humour and acuity the public role and inner turmoil of the intriguing Bram Stoker.”—Diarmaid Ferriter, The Irish Times, a 2019 Book of the Year
“A glorious romp through Victorian London.”—Liz Nugent, The Irish Times
“O’Connor inhabits his characters with all the intensity of a method actor, re-creating an extraordinary world of creativity and self-doubt.”—John Boyne, The Irish Times
“A witty, wry, astute and tender delight.”—Martin Doyle, The Irish Times, Books of the Year 2019
“A sparkling historical novel . . . rich in wit and imagination.”—The Daily Mail
“A hugely entertaining and atmospheric novel, one can almost smell the greasepaint.”—Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
“[With Shadowplay] O’Connor offers a layered, intricately told historical drama.”—The Herald
“In glorious sentences, Joseph O’Connor captures the essence of three very difference artistic temperaments in all their nobility and glorious absurdity.”—Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
“Ireland’s greatest storyteller.”—The Sunday Independent
“Like Joyce, O’Connor combines his panoramic range with a close eye to the grain and texture of the phrase ... An astonishingly accomplished writer.”—Terry Eagleton, The Guardian
Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea was an international bestseller, a New York Times, Economist Notable Book of the Year, and a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. It won France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Nielsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year. He is the author of nine novels and is the Inaugural Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. Shadowplay was named Novel of the Year at the 2019 Irish Book Awards and was a finalist for the prestigious Costa Book Award.