Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: April 16th, 2019
Read as: ARC
My rating: 4
Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!” (Goodreads)
This ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinions.
I will openly admit right now that I am going into this review with some hesitation. This book, as you can see from the description, is about Poe’s life during and around his stint at the University of Virginia. I have loved the works of Edgar Allan Poe since I was a teen and when I received this book I was very excited to dig in, but also nervous in a way. When you start reading about a topic you love there is always that nagging worry in the back of your head that it might, well, be bad.
I am happy to say that my nerves were unfounded and I very much enjoyed this book.
The first thing I want to discuss is the amount of time and effort the author obviously put into researching Poe’s life during the time frame within the book. This story takes place before he is a well known writer, before he finds his place in the world. Winters visited Poe’s school, the town he lived in, and read correspondence to, from, and about Poe in order to get a good handle on his early life. While reading The Raven’s Tale you could feel the love for the topic that Winters has and I have to say that it is very much appreciated.
In this book we are introduced to a young Edgar, entering adulthood, his passion for writing already a part of his very soul. It is this passion that is then given physical manifestation in the form of his muse, Lenore. Lenore, quite literally, is a physical being brought forth from Edgar’s imagination that embodies his love of writing. She feeds on his words and provides inspiration for many of his writings.
The problem Edgar must face stems from the creation of Lenore. His pa, John Allan, not his actual father but the man who raised him, detest’s Edgar’s love of writing and believes that time and effort should be put toward working for the family business. This puts him and Lenore at odds. Edgar wants to makes his father happy, make a good living, and marry the woman he loves. He also does not want to give up his writing to do this.
Young Poe faces many obstacles on the road to becoming the Edgar Allan Poe we are familiar with today. Lenore, during this time, is both his greatest asset and his greatest foe as her passion for his writing often manifests in unpredictable ways. She can be violent, enraged, selfish, and lacks a care for anything besides getting Edgar to pay attention to her. Her thoughtless ways add more trouble to Poe’s life but also helps him grow.
As a whole, I adored this story. Wandering with Edgar through his time at University, watching his interactions with his pa, seeing his love for the woman who raised him and for the woman he had hoped to marry, it is all so lovely. You also see into what caused some of the torture in his young mind. For him to follow his passion and talent for writing he had to fight for it, often giving up the easier and well-paved path laid before him. This book is a wonderful work of historical fiction and fantasy and a must read for any fans of the great Edgar Allan Poe.