The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre Dumas

Year published: 1846
Category: classic thriller


In early 19th-century France, a talented, honorable young sailor on the verge of commanding his own ship, and a fairytale wedding, is betrayed and imprisoned by his jealous rivals. A gripping tale of revenge and redemption follows.


This classic sucks you in on page one with a not-so-subtle setup for disaster, and never lets you go. The Count of Monte Cristo invokes big, obvious themes: an ideal young man (Edmund Dante), much loved and respected, is horribly betrayed and snatched right from his wedding to the most wonderful girl. He “disappears” courtesy of the state into a deep dungeon at Chateau d’ If. While in prison with no hope of escape or release, he has a miraculous encounter with a brilliant fellow prisoner, a priest who teaches him and transforms him from an unschooled child into a polyglot genius. I’ll let you speculate on the plot developments that eventually lead to high-society Paris, and Dante’s generosity and revenge.

Like Dracula, another early thriller masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo takes some effort to get used to. The writing style of mid-19th century France is very different from what contemporary readers are accustomed to, and I won’t deny that many readers will not be willing or able to make the investment. But it is SO worth it. The hero, Dante, is a complex, compelling, charismatic character driving a plot full of intrigue, love, treason, forgiveness, murder, and revenge. A truly phenomenal tale.

Chosen as one of the Top 100 Thrillers of all time by International Thriller Writers, a writers organization.

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