Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
Series: Of Monsters and Madness #1
Published by EgmontUSA on September 9, 2014
Genres: Horror, Re-Telling, Young Adult
Pages: 277
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenge: Readers Imbibing Peril
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble
Add to: Goodreads

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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.


So, I was very excited to read this book. I am a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as a YA fan, so I thought this would be a nice, fun read to start the RIP IX reading challenge. Unfortunately, this book just left me wondering why anyone would want to write it. Intertwining Edgar Allan Poe, and his writings, with the side story told by Verday has done a huge disservice to both halves. Verday’s own “original” story would have sufficed on its own, and likely been a better tale told. Instead, trying to combine her own narrative with a well known and loved author and his literature, only worked to cheapen her voice, likening it to a poorly written self-insert fanfic than a story of horror and mystery.

We begin with the arrival of Annabel Lee, daughter of a disgraced doctor. The novel continually mentions she is from Siam, and how she considers herself ugly because of how different she is, how dark her skin is, how “weird” she is for only knowing the indigenous words for certain things such as ginger. I thought perhaps this is the one positive thing about the novel, we actually might have a novel with a PoC female protagonist. Yet, all that the author mentions is for naught as we learn that Annabel isn’t actually a native of Thailand, but the daughter of an English woman who left England with a group of missionaries in order to keep herself and her daughter from the “shame” of being without a husband/father. This revelation just completely disintegrates any real purpose that Annabel’s Siam origin had. Why not just have Annabel actually be Thai? Why steal all of the culture only to impose it on a “white” character? Having her actually be half Thai, half white would have made much more sense.

Annabel, once reunited with her father and grandfather in Philadelphia, meets Allan Poe and his mysterious cousin, Edgar Poe, whom no one admits exists. She falls in love with one and reviles the other. Eventually, she discovers crimes that have been committed and Verday introduces another famous horror story she borrows inspiration from in the form of a secret serum that separates the good from the bad in human nature. That’s right, we also get a bit of RLS’s “The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

If Verday simply made this a story about a foreign daughter coming to meet her father and then stumbling into a set of bizarre crimes, it would have made for such a better story. Instead, her story is interrupted with excerpts from Poe’s works that serve only as a distraction.

I don’t even know what else to write about for this review. The book lacked so much substance, it’s difficult to critique. It was a quick read. It was simple and easy to understand, there just wasn’t any reason to it. There wasn’t a reason to read it, let alone write it.


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