Thursday, October 16, 2014

ARC Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Title: Of Monsters and Madness
Author: Jessica Verday
Published: September 9, 2014 by Egmont
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to live with her father in 1820's Philadelphia shortly after her mother's death, but an unconventional upbringing makes her repugnant to her angry, secretive father. 

Annabel becomes infatuated with her father's assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he's not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she's not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn't exist.

A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father's strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person - and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan's stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.

*** I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not influenced my opinion. ***

I decided to save Of Monsters and Madness for my Halloween reads. I was looking for something ominous and unsettling with some mystery and maybe a little gore. That is not what I got with Of Monsters and Madness. Well I did get it, but in such small doses. The book had a lot of potential with a mysterious plot and creepy character but a lot of it just seemed to fall flat.

In general Of Monsters and Madness had me confused and not in a good way. Not in the way that has me curious and questioning. I was confused in a way that made me uncomfortable and again, not in a good way. It's just that nothing seemed to make sense. I kept waiting for things to start making sense or have some explanation of the things I knew were true. There was a mystery to the book but for me, it was predictable and easy to solve. It was the kind of plot where they make things mysterious by just not telling you things, even if they are completely obvious, and waiting for a big climactic reveal. Usually being able to solve a twist doesn't bother me but in this book where it was trying to be mysterious and ominous it just didn't work.

The pacing and writing style too lacked dimension. It felt like it was just a lot of bulleted points. There was not much flow from moment to moment. It was just a lot of I go here and do this so that something can happen. I was hoping for more Gothic horror with creepy and atmospheric vibes and/or some gore. I did get a little blood and guts towards the end but it felt a little too late. The book did however building to an exciting climax that had me entertained and interested but it took until about 80 percent in to really capture my interest.

The characters fell a little flat. We were mostly told about their personalities rather than shown. On top of just being told what they were like we didn't really get any time to connect with many of the characters. Whether they were heroes or antagonists in the story I just didn't feel really attached to the characters or invested in them at all. Except in the case of Annabel, the main character. She had a little bit more dimension to her than some of the others. I did actually like her a lot more than I thought I did. She was inquisitive and kind, wanting to help others no matter the consequences or how society would view it. She wasn't a bad protagonist. She did however fall pray to the dreaded instalove cliche. The romance was definitely some of the most frustrating things about this book. On top of it being an illogical attraction that didn't make any sense, it tried to make Poe the romantic hero of the story and it did not work. It felt weird and creepy (again not in a good way) and it made no sense, much like the general plot.

It wasn't a bad story, it was just very basic. It felt like the start of something that could have been great if it had been a little bit more elaborate or with more dimension. If you are looking for a atmospheric Poe retelling then look elsewhere. There were some subtle references to Poe's work but it general it was like the rest of the story and purely superficial. But if you want a quick piece of Historical Fiction with a little mystery and romance than maybe check this out.

I give Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday a 6.5 out of 10

Buy, Borrow, Bypass?:  Bypass. Not a bad book and I think it would appeal to a younger crowd rather than a YA loving adult but there is better Gothic Historical Fiction out there. I suggest A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, or Jackaby by William Ritter.

Have you read Of Monsters and Madness? What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. My comment would be "forgettable." I thought it was entertaining while reading, but honestly, when I saw your review, I wasn't sure if I had read it or not, until I started reading. So, I pretty much agree with you. Thanks.