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Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
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Of Monsters and Madness

by Jessica Verday

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8714138,736 (3.42)1
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    The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (BookSpot)
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    Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (BookSpot)
    BookSpot: Gothic historical tales both in the nineteenth-century and feature teenage characters who are unused to the society, circumstances they find themselves in. Both also deal some with class issues.
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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.
Of Monsters and Madness Review was originally published on By Lulu with Love ( )
  heylu | Mar 4, 2016 |
"Though I try to talk myself out of it, I know I must see what's behind that door."
-Annabel Lee
After her mother's death, Annabel is summoned to Philadelphia by her father. She is excited to meet her father and hopes this will be a new start. At 17, Annabel dreams of being a surgeon. She has a curiosity and interest in medicine and helping people. While in Siam, Annabel assisted her mother in taking care of the sick and injured. But now, her father has forbidden her from practicing medicine and says that her interest in medicine is unseemly. Annabel is determined to prove him wrong, but at the same time, she worries that he is right and her interest in medicine is somehow wrong.

Philadelphia seems scary and so different from Siam. There have been brutal murders recently. Annabel's new home is filled with secrets and strange comings and goings. Annabel can't help her curiosity and she keeps finding hints of dark happenings in her father's house. Annabel is falling in love with Allan (her father's assistant) and is terrified of Edgar (Allan's cousin). She knows that bad things are happening in the house, but who is responsible? And what goes on in her father's laboratory?

This book is a fabulous mashup of Edgar Allan Poe stories and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is bloody and scary and creepy and I really enjoyed it. I knew about the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde component and I thought I knew what was going on, but I wasn't sure. Up until the end, I wasn't sure if Annabel was going to be ok or if she was ever going to discover the truth behind her father's experiments. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Recommended to :
This is a young adult book, but it has a lot of violence, gore and scary themes. So, I would recommend it to older teens and adults. If you like Poe and other gothic type stories, you should enjoy this novel. ( )
  Jadedog13 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: This novel follows Annabel Lee (the one from the famous poem by Edgar Allen Poe!) and her horrifying discoveries when she moves to Philadelphia.

Opening Sentence: My breath is quick.

The Review:

Annabel Lee has always lived a rather simple life. She and her mother used to spend her days in a Siam village, working to earn their keep and staying close together. When her mother dies, however, she is summoned to Philadelphia to live with her father at his grand estate. But strange happenings are going on, and they only escalate when Annabel meets two young men that look remarkably similar, Edgar and Allan. One is poetic and sweet, the other is terrifying and dark. They are helping her father with illegal experiments, and as a string of murders begin to happen, Annabel starts to question if they could be more involved then they are letting on.

I went into this novel with mixed feelings. For one thing, I’ve heard a lot of reviews that weren’t so complimentary. Goodreads wasn’t kind to this story. However, I’ve always been intriguied by Edgar Allen Poe, an enigma and author whose creepy, gritty works have survived the test of time. And, after all, the main character was called Annabel Lee, from that famous poem that I studied two years ago in English. (Though it never really is tied in to Poe’s works – yet. This is one of a series, so there is still time for that to be incorporated.) I went into the novel with an open mind, hoping to find a book that I enjoyed more than others who have spoken about it.

Let’s start with the writing style. Here’s the thing – I had very mixed feelings about it. One could say that it did resemble the time period in its wording; I think that the phrasing and flow sounded alike to the setting we were reading about. But at times, the word choice and diction sounded almost juvenile, or very simple, not like a young adult novel but perhaps hovering at the edge of middle grade. It did a lot of telling instead of showing, especially for the feelings of our main character, and even descriptions were sadly free of too much vivid imagery.

The characters were somewhat bland, in my opinion. Our main character fit into a very cookie cutter mold and was, in my opinion, too sensitive. For example: when her father wasn’t treating her kindly, she thought only “woe is me! What a shame! What is wrong with me?” instead of any realistic anger or other feelings that should’ve gone hand in hand. She didn’t develop too much over the course of the story either. Even Edgar Allen Poe could have been more mysterious. The Dr. Jekyll/Dr.Hyde situation going on added an element of intrigue to the story, but it was still lacking a heavy, dark tone that I’d expected.

Altogether? This story was lacking in elements that I wish that it would have had. The characters were bland, the writing style felt very simple, and the romance was altogether uninteresting. There was a lot of potential for this setting and idea, but I felt it didn’t reach it. It was also a super predictable plotline the way it was executed. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this story to a degree, and it was a refreshing change from the contemporary binge I’ve been on recently. The first book set up a few questions that have yet to be answered, so I hope that the sequel ramps it up a few notches.

Notable Scene:

I strain my eyes in the darkness to see. All I can make out is a large structure of pale stones, tall doors, and rows of windows gleaming like sharp teeth against the nigh. It looks nothing like the bamboo houses built high of stilts I have spent the last ten years of my life in. A sense of unease fills my stomach as I stare up at what is to be my new home.

Dark and foreboding, it appears to be just as unwelcome as the rest of Philadelphia.

FTC Advisory: EgmontUSA provided me with a copy of Of Monsters and Madness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Nov 8, 2015 |
**originally posted on www.wearewordnerds.com**

My Thoughts:

You guys! To quote my kindle notes:

Wow! Talk abt hooking you in!

*This is from an ARC (uncorrected proof) of OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS. Passage may not be included in the finished copy.

“Blood is everywhere. Splashed on the walls and spilled across the floor. The scent, heavy upon the air, is like a fog that rises up early in the morning. Loops of glistening flesh are strung out upon a table, and in the middle of it all is a single lock of hair. Dark. Curled. Obscene in its loveliness amongst such carnage.”

==========
- Your Highlight Location 12-14 | Added on Sunday, June 22, 2014 6:13:14 AM



I’m going to break this one down to pros and cons.

The Pros:

I enjoyed the authors writing style. It flowed well and was captivating.
I enjoyed the story premise.
I enjoyed the characters. * I just didn’t need the first 70% of the book to get to know them, is all.
Annabel Lee, a cooky family, murder mystery, and twists at every turn. Interesting. Very interesting.

The Cons:

The book is, dare I say: 80% character development, 3% story set up, 2% mystery, and 15% ya trope/”I saw that coming”.

In Conclusion:

This book did a fantastic job of hooking me in, but it took FOREVER to get past the “getting to know the characters” phase. At 70% I was still saying “show me something!” That’s a bit long for me. I did like it enough that I stuck with it, and didn’t DNF the book. So that says a lot, as far as I’m concerned. I say pick it up, especially if you like mystery type thriller whodunit type books! However, and I need to say that in all caps, so…. HOWEVER, do not pick it up expecting anything amazing, or anything remotely resembling Poe. Well, besides a the character names. ha.

Also note: The ending. BAH! This is the first book in a series, yall. I wish they would have advertised that.

Mom Notes:

A little on the creepy side. Some violence, but not too bad. I say for ages 13 , but may require some guidance.

  BunnyCates | Jul 8, 2015 |
An entertaining mix of historical fiction, Gothic horror, and romance with some good moments of gruesomeness and suspense. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
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"In 1820s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which her father and his alluring assistant might be implicated"--

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