Reference librarian Nevins is completely at home among the myriad characters of Victorian fantasy literature. An aficionado of the genre, he maps the genealogy of dream-world characters, among them Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Lewis Carroll's Alice, Edgar Allan Poe's Roderick Usher, Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson's Edward Hyde, and Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein. Into the company of illustrious fantasy figures, Nevins inserts essays on topics such as Doppelganger, The Gothic, Historical romance,
and Sensational novel.
Deft analysis of the likes of Hajji Baba, Buffalo Bill, the Phantom Child, Rima, and Sweeney Todd draws the reader into nooks and cul-de-sacs of adventure and mayhem. Surprising omissions from the vast list of entries are comments on sci-fi and the mad scientist stereotype and entries on the phantasms of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Entries are arranged alphabetically and often provide considerable detail. In his foreword, Nevins explains that the book is "subjective, not objective," and "prescriptive rather than descriptive"--claims born out by the degree of critical discussion. Contributing to the book's value to students and researchers are publication data and frequent cross-references. The text disappoints, however, in the omission of source lists. Back matter offers a limited bibliography and no index for surveying authors, titles, series, and publishers. Despite these limitations, this very readable volume is a sound addition to the reference collections on both Victorian and fantasy literature. Mary Ellen Snodgrass
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About the Author
Jess Nevins, a reference librarian at Sam Houston State University, is the author of Heroes & Monsters and A Blazing World, the two volume companion editions to the popular graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He lives in Huntsville, Texas.