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3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  366 ratings  ·  56 reviews
It is 1919 and the Great War has come to a close. But in the shadows of the world's major cities, the killing has just begun. In this perilous time, as the division between order and chaos grows increasingly slim, a select group of visionaries have taken it upon themselves to ensure the safety of humanity. They are known as the Arcanum.
In London's stormy Hyde Park, Konsta
ebook, 336 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Bantam Books (first published 2003)
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If Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown had a baby, that baby would have grown up into Thomas Wheeler and it would have written this book. The writing is clunky and in places it's absolutely nonsensical. The plot is difficult to follow, which is a shame, because I think it could have been fantastic. The whole time I was reading it, I just kept thinking it was so close, yet so unbelievably far away.

My chief issue with the novel was the treatment of the female characters. Each time a woman is introduced
Jul 25, 2008 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Recommended to Rebecca by: Al Ruby
I actually bought this book a couple of years ago on the recommedation of a co-worker back when I worked for a book store.

I'm sorry it took me so long to read it. It was surprisingly good. After "Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl, I honestly didn't think I'd find any author able to fuse well known historical literary figures into a story and not have it come across as cheesey or cheap. Thomas Wheeler did a great job. Not only did I believe that I was reading the interactions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyl
Jeremiah Genest
I got this cheap at the bookstore at the airport. Not a lot of choice. And it waasn't that good. First of all, the depicitions of Laveau, Houdini, Lovecraft and Doyle seemed wrong. Tim Powers has a quote somewhere that when writing historical fantasy its important to fill in the gaps. This one just uses names and doesn't care about the characters. It read like a poor screenplay turned into a book. Blah
this book was AWESOME. it had everything. Lost tribes of Angels, gonstic gospel knowledge, historical fiction, H.P. Lovecraft as a character in the book, a twisted plot I didn't see all the way through until it came about at the end. Uber-rich Satanists... you name it. WOW!

I mean sure, not high-brow fiction but one HELL of a joyride through the occult and early American.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Marie Laveau, and Harry Houdini in a secret paranormal crime-fighting fraternity, solving mysteries in post-WWI New York. Oh. Em. Gee. You guys. I came into this book expecting to dislike it because of the co-opting of Marie Laveau ("1919 New York? She died in 1881! And her daughter died in 1895! What the hell, novel!") but I was quickly won over because the book is just really, really fun. What's that word they use to describe movies that are completely s ...more
The book begins with a silly, but fairly entertaining, premise: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, H.P. Lovecraft and voodoo priestess Marie Laveau form a group of sleuths tracking down supernatural events. Turning historical personages into 21st century-styled action heroes is hardly necessary, but is harmless enough. At first. Unfortunately, somewhere near the middle of the story, the plot moves rapidly from silly to preposterous to ridiculous. Anytime Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houd ...more
OK - This one was a guilty pleasure. An occult thriller in which a team consists of Harry Houdini, Marie Laveau, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It's like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but with real people (yet equally far-fetched).
How do you mess up a story about Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, and Houdini attempting to avert the end of the world by recovering a lost volume of arcane lore and dubious provenance? Just ask Thomas Wheeler.

Start by failing to do any kind of historical or biographical research whatsoever. Lovecraft was social guy with a wide correspondence and a fairly excellent sense of humor, which makes him a far more complex personality than the Reclusive Necromancer Wheeler paint-by-numbers here. Doy
Retro review*

I read this schlocky action-horror fest some years back and, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, decided to revisit it. While I recall thinking it an okay popcorn read, really it’s pretty dumb, chock full of cliches, plot holes, historical blunders, and shallow characterizations. When I read it, I was unaware that the author, Thomas Wheeler, is a successful screenwriter, but I could tell its cinematic roots from the first scene, you can practically hear the bombastic, overbearing
Joseph Finley
The Arcanum is a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. I’d describe the novel as historical fantasy, though some have called it an occult thriller. Regardless, with a name like “Arcanum” you should expect some magic and plenty of supernatural happenings. The novel is premised on Enochian myth, much like Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology.

Set in 1919, after the end of World War I, the story begins as a whodunit, with the main character, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, playing the role o
This is an AWESOME book!! It combines well-written historical fiction with a suspense thrill-ride that will keep you racing through the pages to find out how it all ends!!

The author does a terrific job of taking what we actually know about the personalities of the historical figures who are the main characters in the story - Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Harry Houdini, and Marie Laveau - and adding to that the appropriate behaviours that are needed to move the plot forward.

The four main c
Sarah Sammis
Nov 23, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: jennymidget
Shelves: pc, read-in-2011
The Arcanum by Thomas Wheeler was recommended to me by a friend. I can't remember the exact context of the recommendation but it came with a physical copy of the book.

The book begins with Arthur Conan Doyle in New York to help solve a murder and exonerate his friend H.P. Lovecraft. He gets help from Harry Houdini. Together the three of them as well as a woman who should have been dead and buried are part of a secret society called The Arcanum.

The purpose of the Arcanum is built on the same mytho
Lisa Wolf
"The Arcanum" was clearly written by a screenwriter. No character development, no sublety. Yes, there's a cute gimmick -- the main characters are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, H. P. Lovecraft, and Marie Laveau, with drop-by appearances by William Hearst and Alastair Crowley. Together, our heroes fight evil and save the world. By using these well-known personae, the author avoids any need to flesh out his characters into actual people. Reading this, I felt like I was reading a comic book ...more
Catherine Siemann
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Marie Laveau, and H. P. Lovecraft: they fight supernatural crime! Can you think of anything more fun? Alas, I can. The Arcanum is a first novel by a successful screenwriter, and it shows -- it's fast-paced, adventurous, and shallow. While Wheeler's clearly done his research, he doesn't let history or character get in the way of telling the story he has in mind, which involves lost angels, a missing book of the Bible, and Aleister Crowley. It's a quick, fun, ...more
A decent thriller in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vein, though it ultimately ends up feeling more like the movie than the graphic novel. The setting is post-WWI New York, and this time it's Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Marie Leveau, and H.P. Lovecraft facing off against Aleister Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The plot is kind of muddled (something about angels and the Book of Enoch), feeling at times like nothing more than a blueprint for a Hollywood blockbuste ...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
Really 3 1/2...

It wasn't bad - but it just didn't ever get great. Someone mentioned that the portrayals of the historical characters seemed off, and I have to agree - with the caveat that I don't actually know much about the historical figures portrayed in this story. They just seemed sort of like charicatures.

The mystery element was ok, but didn't really have the suspense that I like in these sorts of books. I wasn't on the proverbial edge of my seat... and I didn't HAVE to finish it to find ou
I wish I hadn't known that this was going to be a movie before I read it, because all of my "wow that is some script writing right there" would have actually been insightful. I think this will make a great bad movie.
Wow, this was one was a bit out there. You had to go with the flow in terms of how the author characterized these famous personages, but once you got into it, the story had a breakneck pace and I loved the twists and turns. I think Harry Houdini was the best--and probably the most accurate--in character. I think Wheeler did better with his original characters than with the members of the Arcanum (Marie Leveau, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, etc.) If you're into horror, though, Wheeler has a ...more
Heidi Ward
The premise may sound wacky, but "The Arcanum" was much darker and more disturbing than I expected (a definite plus for me!). Wheeler's first novel is a thoroughly entertaining alternative history/steampunk/horror concoction, which would indeed make a great action film. It probably helps to know something about Biblical apocrypha, hermetic occult circles, voodoo and Lovecraftian horrors . . . but if even one of those is your bag, dig in for a rollicking read which also delivers several serious c ...more
Lauren Swindell
I loved this book. Great story. Easy to read. Highly recommend!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I started out really enjoying this but by the half way point I really had to keep myself motivated to keep reading. It took a paranormal twist too far into it. I enjoy a good paranormal book but this novel just felt like the author just kept adding more elements to keep the drama going instead of letting the story flow naturally. I ended up skimming the last few chapters just so I could finish it and put an end to it.
Nice first-time book. Quite a good story, well written, and kept me in suspense. I liked the authors decision to make the real-life characters actually be like their notorious images. In the book, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle IS a nimble-minded sleuth. Harry Houdini IS magical. And H.P. Lovecraft IS a master of the dark arts and ancient taboos.

A nice book to kill some time with.
This book definitely has its weaknesses. I was getting a bit tired of weeding through the setup of characters still going on around page 100. The second half, however, picked up a bit and was more energetic. Not the greatest of historical fiction...but a potential start from which the novelist could grow -- an interesting premise that seems both unique and familiar.
Jun 11, 2008 Alejandro rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody
Recommended to Alejandro by: nobody
Shelves: sff
Enjoyable bit of literary bubblegum. Should've been a screenplay. Dream cast?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle = Sir Sean Connery
Harry Houdini = James McAvoy
Marie Laveau = Naomie Harris
H.P. Lovecraft = Ben Foster
Konstantin Duvall = Sir Ian McKellan

It's an enjoyable summer read. Joe Bob says "check it out."
Inspite of the reviews I had read for this book, I really enjoyed it. I am a huge Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes fan and did enjoy the journey this book took me on. To make Conan Doyle a character was brilliant. Also nice to see the other characters and their interactions.
I don't know what possessed me to put this on my TBR list. It was not my thing at all. Well written I suppose, and if the characters in it hadn't been real people (Conan Doyle, Houdini, Lovecraft)I probably never would have finished it.

This wildly improbable story of a secret society includes the following characters: HP Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, plus a collection of lesser mystics. Lots of horror...not exactly my first choice of recreational reading...
Kevin C Steele
As a long-time of Sherlock Holmes, Lovecraft, Herbert Asbury, the occult & pulp fiction such as 'The Spider', this was a wonderfully entertaining gumbo of all thoses ingredients, spiced with mystery, murder & plenty of cinematic action.
Tornike Gochashvili
very exciting and thrilling. lots of secrets and mystics.
But as I remember, in the Book of Enoch is not mentioned Lucifer. There is Azazel, Samyaza and others, but not Lucifer... Anyway, I like this book.
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Thomas Wheeler sold his first screenplay at age twenty-two, to Twentieth Century Fox. He has continued to work on major Hollywood features for the last several years. Wheeler lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Christina, and his son, Luca. The Arcanum is his first novel.
More about Thomas Wheeler...
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