Book Review: Of Monsters and Madness
By: Jessica Verday
Published By: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fantasy
I was initially attracted to this novel because Annabel Lee has always been one of my favorite pieces of Poe's work. I thought this was going to be a retelling of the poem. I was looking forward to finding out how Jessica Verday would bring this famous female to life. I was slightly shocked to realize that this novel does have a character named Annabel Lee, but it isn't a true retelling.
Annabel Lee was born in England, but she moved to Siam with her mother when she was six. Her father was never part of her life, but one day she receives a letter inviting her to his home in Philadelphia. When Annabel's mother succumbs to illness, Annabel makes the long journey to meet her father in the United States. Life in her father's home is full of dark secrets.
In addition to Annabel, Edgar Allan Poe is a character. I don't want to provide any spoilers, but I wasn't keen on his character in this one. I felt like he was unnecessary. That role could have been filled by anyone. I know that the author was trying to add an intriguing spin, but it just fell flat for me.
I did enjoy the blend between history and fantasy in this one. There are also several allusions throughout the story. In addition to Poe's work, there are elements of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think I would have liked this one more if it hadn't reminded me of one of my favorite series - The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.
One Last Gripe: I didn't enjoy the romance aspect. It feel very instaloveish.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked that Verday worked very hard to focus on Philadelphia because many people do not know much about Poe's connection to the city. In fact, that was new to me as well.
First Sentence: My breath is quick.
Favorite Character: Annabel
Least Favorite Character: Edgar
A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.
Summoned to her father's home in 1820's Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father's assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they're letting on.