A headstrong girl discovers monsters among men in this macabre mystery featuring a fictionalized Edgar Allan Poe.
Annabel Lee leaves sunny Siam when her mother dies, traveling to filthy Philadelphia to meet the father she does not remember. She soon wishes that she had not come; he is cold, crippled and critical of his daughter. Formerly a doctor, and now toiling in his basement laboratory with his assistant(s) Edgar and Allan Poe, he dismisses her dreams of becoming a physician. Annabel finds comfort in her relationships with her grandfather and her maid, Maddy, but she cannot escape her feelings of alienation and loss. Annabel chafes at her new restrictions and uses every opportunity to show off her healing skills. Typical semihistorical-horror-novel clichés abound—the house is full of secrets, her father is a mad scientist, and there is a murderer on the loose. More of a Mobius strip than a triangle, Annabelle’s romantic entanglement with creepy Edgar and Poe-poetry–spouting Allan is also standard. Aside from the dubious true-crime approach to Poe’s work, readers should take note that historical facts are compressed and manipulated. Still, Verday offers a haunting portrait of a lonely, intelligent girl, while serving up gore and abundant references to classic Gothic horror stories.
A monstrous mashup of Stevenson, Shelley, Poe and some Burnett, yet inventive and engaging nevertheless. (Horror. 12-18)