What kind of horror might Edgar Allan Poe perpetrate in today’s world?
Angry at the way his life changed after his father left, eighth-grader David Cray beats up a bully in his new school and then retreats to a secret room in the old house in downtown Baltimore his mother has rented. There, unknowingly, he awakens Poe’s spirit, who feeds on David’s rage to re-enact dreadful details of the 19th-century author’s most famous stories. For much of this suspenseful tale it’s not clear who’s responsible for the horrific events: a classmate mummified and nearly killed by a ceiling fan; a dead cat found in a locker; a swinging scythe that threatens another bound classmate. The police and even his mother suspect it might be David. Luckily, new friend Libby Morales (cued as Latina with her name but otherwise culturally indistinct) thinks better of him and works with him to solve the mystery. David’s first-person narrative is presented in short, fast-paced chapters, with occasional commentary from Poe himself. Kidd makes use of authentic setting details—the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Poe’s elaborate grave, and crab cakes from the Lexington Market—but seems to ignore the most salient one: David would probably have been the only white student in his school. A concluding author’s note explains that this is a “dream Baltimore,” where Poe gets the death he deserves.
An introduction that might tempt readers to explore Poe’s own nightmares. (Fantasy. 9-13)