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The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters
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The Raven's Tale

by Cat Winters

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352487,674 (3.5)None
Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe's plans to escape his foster family, begin classes at the prestigious new university, and marry his beloved Elmira Royster go awry when a macabre Muse appears with a request.

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I have loved most of Cat Winters books and was incredibly excited to see what she would do with a book about Edgar Allan Poe. This ended up being a bit disappointing to me. While it was a neat idea, it was honestly kind of boring. There is a lot of flowery language but not much of a story here.

Edgar Poe is constantly pulled between the demands of his art and the demands of his foster father. He desperately wants to attend University and his foster father has agreed to send him..for now. When Poe’s muse takes on human form she ends up causing a number of issues for him that lead him down a dark path.

I did enjoy the idea of an artist’s muse being a living/tangible thing; basically the human embodiment of their artistic talent. Lenore is all of Poe’s dark tendencies and urges wrapped into one disturbing girl. Eventually another muse shows up who fights with Lenore over Poe and this muse is the embodiment of Poe’s ability for satire.

Unfortunately this story was both too much and not enough for me. Having the second muse enter the scene was distracting and this second muse was just not very well developed (I can’t even remember his name). It was just too much and really defocused the story. I also felt like Lenore was not enough. She just wasn’t dark enough, committed enough, and didn’t feel passionate and developed enough. The whole thing ended up being a bit of a muddle.

If you look back at what actually happened in this book it’s really not all that much. It was fairly boring to read, the only bright spots being the poetry excerpts throughout. I also enjoyed the afterward that talked about Edgar Poe’s actual history.

Overall this was a disappointing read for me; it’s okay but feel very short of my expectations. The story is just too slow, boring, and a bit muddled. You don’t get a lot of story and the muses weren’t quite as intense as they should have been. This is one of the weaker Cat Winters books I have read. I started reading it with a huge amount of enthusiasm and by the end just wanted it to be over. ( )
  krau0098 | Mar 1, 2019 |
Not one of Winters's best.

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

"I awaken in the shadows, ravenous for words, hungering for delicacies dripping with dread. My poet in the black frock coat kneels in prayer beneath the windows in the ceiling that bathe his head in a weak winter light, bronzing his brown curls and the back of his neck. He bends his face toward the floorboards, toward the crypt down below him, and I will the spirits of the dead beneath him to whisper a song."

“I’m the best part of you, Edgar Poe.”

-- 2.5 stars. DNF at 58%. --

DNFs are never fun, but this one really hurt. Poe was perhaps my first literary crush, and I've enjoyed several of Cat Winters's previous books, so The Raven's Tale seemed like a slam dunk for me. But when, reclining on the floor of my library, reading about Poe's angsty teen years, I found my attention wandering to books I'd already devoured sitting right there next to me head, begging for another go, I knew it just wasn't meant to be. My heart had already moved on, even if my brain was too stubborn to accept it. (That came the next day, when my copy of Sawkill Girls arrived at the public library.)

Whereas most books about Edgar Allan Poe concentrate on his teen years, Winters goes back a little further. Here, Poe is seventeen years old, on the verge of escaping to the University of Virginia, a three day's drive from his philandering, abusive, and cruel foster father, John Allan. Allan has been pressuring Edgar to forgo his artistic pursuits in favor of something more profitable - and is not above using his wealth as leverage. The son of traveling performers, Edgar longs to fit in with his "high-born" peers. In love with - and secretly engaged to - a young woman named Sarah Elmira Royster, Poe is torn between his muse and his need to belong.

In this case, Poe's "muse" is a living, breathing creature given corporeal form by Winters. She appears to him as a teenage girl: a girl with hair the color of a raven's feathers, a girl who drips shadows and leaves footprints of coal, whose eyes burn like embers and who inspires in Poe his most deliciously macabre and grotesque thoughts. But can Edgar learn to nurture that which he fears?

The plot sounds amazing, but in execution it just feels tedious. The first half of the book mostly consists of Eleanor - as Poe christens his muse - chasing Edgar around Virginia like a spurned lover: "Edgar you can't escape me, this is who you are, why won't you commit yourself to me!!!!" Meanwhile Edgar just wants to pass for one of the good ole boys. Yawn.

There are some pretty great things here, like Eleanor's necklace made of molars; Rosalie Poe's admission that she has a muse (want to know more please); and the similar 'secret life' of the Allan family's slave, Judith (need to know more please). Sadly, though, it just wasn't enough to keep me going. *emo face*

http://www.easyvegan.info/2019/04/16/the-ravens-tale-by-cat-winters/ ( )
  smiteme | Jan 22, 2019 |
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