This Edgar Allen Poe-themed story follows Elenora Allison Poe, a desperate young woman suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a terrible event. She meets homicide cop, Caleb Frost and is dragged into a new truth about her life – and possible demise.
As an opener to the works of Poe, this novel definitely will have you reaching for the nearest anthology. Personally, I don’t enjoy Poe but that doesn’t really matter because it’s his legacy that enthralls here – so even if you aren’t a Poe fan, this book goes deeper than just his works – this is a tale of spiritual turmoil, with witches and the paranormal distorting the world that both Elenora and Poe exist in. I learned a fair bit of back story about him; whether that is true or not doesn’t matter – this is almost fan fiction; this is definitely Metafiction, and with its Steampunk vibe there’s a lot of readers willing to lap this up.
There is a visual nature to Martens’ writing. Descriptions, when they work, go over exceptionally well by painting a picture of what is in front of us, and Martins conveys her imaginative world in detail, meaning that it becomes hard to stop reading at any point. There are nice modern touches that anchor Elenora in the real world, such as her job at Starbucks and her snarky attitude to those around her. But there are timeless accents – there is a Gothic, smouldering shroud across this book, as if Anne Rice or Poppy Z Brite have infected the writing.
Martens writes clearly, but sometimes her prose is a little trope-heavy. Adjectives hang on perfectly good sentences where narrative would suffice. Some of this style can be pinned to the fact this book is really for the new adult market, because maybe the themes in the story are a little too grim for a YA audience; having said that, fans of the likes of The Book Thief and The Goldfinch are going to enjoy the horrible nature of mental illness and somewhat magical darkness Martens weaves – there are definite chimes of Theo Decker and Liesel Meminger here in Elenora’s character; that kind of inner-worldliness that many young people lack is the exact reason you will want to follow Elenora on her forced path of gloom and discovery. She becomes a highly haunting voice throughout the book, and somehow the the tropes fade as Martens writes, as if she became more comfortable and confident as she told her tale – later, original and witty prose becomes the norm and really colors the story.
Because of the development of the writing, the winding plot will carry you as Elenora fails to reach a happy place again and again, heartwrenchingly broken and bothered by her family legacy as she goes deeper and deeper into her investigation with Caleb.
Warning: You may just stay up at night to read, read, read…I know I did.
There’s a definite set-up for the next book, which is well done, and I look forward to reading her next installment. I should imagine it will hold readers in suspense for a successful series featuring a different kind of female anti-hero.
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