1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London.

Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another.

The Chief... Henry Irving... volcanic leading man and impresario

The Leading Lady... Ellen Terry... most lauded actress of her generation

The Theatre Manager... Bram Stoker following along behind them in the shadows

A clerk from Dublin, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio, but in a new city, job, marriage, he is wrestling with dark demons. The Chief if determined that nothing will hinder his manager’s dedication to the Lyceum and to himself, and both men are enchanted by the elusive Ellen. As Bram walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration for his own daring literary ambitions.

This exceptional novel explores the danger and complexity of unconventional love, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.


"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 wonder, and Shadowplay is a triumph."
Peter Carey

"Joseph O'Connor is a great artist and storyteller. The quotient of enjoyment in his extraordinary new novel is stupdendous."
Sebastian Barry

"A hugely entertaining and atmospheric novel, one can almost smell the greasepaint."
Deborah Moggach

"Joseph O'Connor is the only writer I know who can make you laugh and cry in the same sentence."
Lawrence Norfolk

"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

"Shadowplay is funny, smart, tender, wise and written with inch-perfect precision."
Colum McCann

"Wonderful. The writing is beautiful."
Sir Derek Jacobi

"Spellbinding. A stunner."
Sunday Independent

"A gorgeous, gorgeous book... A thing of great beauty."
Ryan Tubridy, RTE Radio

John Boyne

"Lushly enjoyable."
The Observer

"Deserves an ovation."
The Times

"Wonderful. My book of the year so far."
Liz Nugent

"Vivid and impressive."
Irish Independent

"Dazzling...the panache and subtlety of his prose perfectly match the gusto and creative finesse of the High Victorian world his novel wonderfully evokes."
Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

"A marvelous novel...Magnificent."
Suzie Feay, Financial Times

"Enthralling...Brilliantly done."
Irish Times

"Spellbinding... Wonderful."
Front Row, BBC Radio 4

"Beautifully written."
The Spectator

"An ingenious novel… O’Connor’s work is hugely impressive and utterly haunting."
Sunday Mirror

"A hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly – at times, astonishingly – a story of transience, loss and true loyalty."
Sadie Jones, Guardian

"Rich and vivid."
Val McDiarmid, Telegraph

"A mesmerising read, beautifully researched, with beautiful prose."
Sunday Independent

"A work of Gothic splendour...O'Connor's writing is always 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."
Literary Review

"A fabulous novel…The narrative stretches decades, and throbs with theatrical vigour. This is writing at its most immersive, full of Dickensian pulchritude and pathos."
Nick Duerden, The i

"A rollicking tale… an affecting depiction of artistic and social emancipation… O’Connor’s well-researched theatrical caper offers total immersion in a romantic, lost London... be nourished by a colourful tale of secret love and public performance."
The Times

"Gorgeously dark… Shadowplay is an accomplished, compelling read."

"A pleasure from start to finish."
Sunday Business Post

"A tour-de-force."
RTE Guide

"A meisterwork"
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