- Age Range: 12 and up
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: EgmontUSA (September 9, 2014)
- ISBN: 9781606844632
- Source: Library copy
After her mother passes away, Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to Philadelphia to live with her father. Never knowing him growing up, the father/daughter bond has much to be desired. His physical ailments and secretive line of work forms a wedge in their already struggling relationship.
It isn’t long after her arrival that a rash of murders devastate the city. Her father’s strange behavior forces Annabel to question his involvement. Unaccustomed to the city life, she has very few that she could consider friends. Her father’s assistant, Allan, dotes on Annabel with unabashed kindness. When he’s not working with her father, Allan dabbles in writing, with hopes of producing volumes of poetry. Allan’s polar opposite is Edgar, a cousin who has an uncanny resemblance to Allan. As Annabel attempts to learn more about Allan’s brusque cousin, she learns that she is the only one who has ever born witness to his existence.
With strange, late night visitors to her father’s basement laboratory and the victims of murders hitting close to home, Annabel Lee soon discovers that evil lurks nearby. The identity of the brutal killer is more shocking than she could have ever imagined.
In this unique take on the classic Edgar Allan Poe, Verday creates a mash-up of Poe’s classics with that of Jekyll & Hyde. A fan of Poe’s work myself, I generally resist reading any retellings of his work. That said, Of Monsters and Madness had a unique enough spin to it that I threw out any misgivings and devoured it as soon as I could get my hands on a copy.
While I enjoyed the unique storyline, I felt myself craving more from the characters, specifically that of Annabel Lee. Her identity and link to Edgar Allan Poe is a given and we are teased with hints to her past, but I wanted to know more. Her character is a strong one; she’s desperate to become a doctor despite her father’s attempts to dissuade her. She is terrified that her father’s obsession with the macabre runs in her blood as well. Yet, despite all this there is so much we still don’t know about her. She wears a scarf to hide scars on her neck, yet we have no idea what caused them.
The fact this is the first in a new series gives me a modicum of hope, but also some trepidation. While I’m thrilled to know Annabel’s story will be continued, I wonder what else there is to tell. I’ll hold further judgement until I read the next book, Of Phantoms and Fury, due out in September of 2015.