“It’s Halloween, and life is grim for 23-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.
But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.
There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.
As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.”
A slightly different approach to this review because this was probably one of the weirdest reading experiences of my life.
I started reading this book, already excited by the title, and I tweeted this:
— Sarah Clare (@BehindOnBooks) February 2, 2014
I have a tattoo of Edgar Allan Poe (click here for the blog post about my tattoos) and as I whizzed through chapters 1, 2, 3, I was feeling ore and more like this book was a perfect fit for me.
With references to Shakespeare as well, I knew I was going to love the bones of this book.
And then the author replied to my tweet:
@BehindOnBooks Nothing is ever as random as it appears to be.
— J. Lincoln Fenn (@JLincolnFenn) February 2, 2014
Now, usually I get all super crazy fangirl when an author replies to a tweet, or email, or whatever. But this one had an even more peculiar effect on me. I was sucker punched.
That’s when ‘strange’ things started to happen.
I took my trusty e-reader to work with me (I knew I’d have some downtime to kill). Sticking my iPod on shuffle I sang my heart out to a song I haven’t listened to in ages. Rasputin by Turisas. Great tune.
But… When I finally start killing said down time, I reach a point in the book where the ‘legend’ of Rasputin becomes an important plot point.
A coincidence? Possibly. But still odd.
The next morning I woke up to a ‘thud’. Living in a rickety house it’s not unusual for things to fall over or wobble off a shelf, table… bookcase… Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for Edgar Allan Poe, and as a result I have four different copies of his collected works, as well as some smaller volumes of criticism and poetry. One of the larger books had dumped itself onto the floor. Cool. It happens. I pick it up and glance at what page it had fallen open at…
‘The Tell Tale Heart’
Dimitri, in ‘Poe’ makes reference to this short story near the beginning, part of his reasoning for coming up with the name ‘Poe’ for the poltergeist.
Ok, I might be overreacting. But you have to admit that it’s strange. Even if it’s simply a ‘strange’ coincidence.
I’ll be done with the Most Haunted vibe now and actually add some reviewing points:
What did I really like in this book?
- Dimitri – He was such a great character. I instantly identified with his voice, especially the dry sense of humour and the way he observed the world around him.
- No apologies – This book goes all out in places and doesn’t make an excuses for including the gory details.
- Plot – YEEHAW! The storyline is compelling. Addictive even. I couldn’t put it down.
- Love – Yeah, we had a little love. But it wasn’t a cliche, and it wasn’t typical. This pair are proper weirdos. Perfect for each other in that sense.
- Intertextuality – Fenn expertly weaves in some literary references, some more obvious than others, like the title, for example. I also felt the Dimitri captured the essence of ‘struggling writer’, almost to the point that it was uncomfortably familiar!
- Pace – Bam, bam, bam. The plot moves along at a satisfying speed. Not a single moment to start snoring.
What didn’t work for me?
- Biblical hoo-har – I wasn’t completely won over by the mention of ‘Eden’. I’ll happily go along with the idea of a poltergeist, or possession, or anything slightly paranormal. But bring in the Bible, and my brain slams on the brakes. That’s not to say it didn’t fit the plot, but I think it could have carried itself fine without it. Perhaps with Poe, Rasputin and demons, demons, demons, then bringing in Eden was too much.
I thoroughly enjoyed Poe. It digs down to the roots of horror and grows itself into a new tree (poor analogy…) And that’s what struck me about this book; it’s different. But it’s not trying to escape the legacies from which it must evolve from.
Easily, this book gets a 1st (5/5 stars on Goodreads). Love it.