Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Of Monsters and Madness #1

Of Monsters and Madness

Rate this book
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.

Summoned to her father's home in 1820's Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father's assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they're letting on.

277 pages, Hardcover

First published September 9, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jessica Verday

14 books1,776 followers
Jessica Verday is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hollow Trilogy, published by Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. She wrote the first draft of THE HOLLOW by hand, using thirteen spiral-bound notebooks and fifteen black pens. The first draft of THE HAUNTED took fifteen spiral-bound notebooks and twenty black pens. THE HIDDEN took too many notebooks and too many pens to count. Find out more at jessicaverday.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
255 (21%)
4 stars
307 (26%)
3 stars
343 (29%)
2 stars
189 (16%)
1 star
76 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 280 reviews
March 15, 2014
Actual rating: 2.5
“A story? You are recording your horrors?”
“How am I to accurately write about something unless I have been a firsthand witness to it?”
There is nothing bad about this book, but fans of The Madman's Daughter series will find that this series pales in comparison. It is so, so predictable.

This book has a beautiful atmosphere, it has an enjoyable main character and narrator. However, the pacing is slow, the plot is easily foreseeable by anyone not mentally deficient, and there was not enough horror to hold my interest. The mysteries, the "hints," the murders...all fell flat. The mystery feels incomplete.

This book also takes a considerable amount of liberties with Edgar Allan Poe. Poe Purists will not enjoy this book.

This is going to be a very brief review (for me, that is), because there's just not much I can say about this book. I just don't have a whole lot of complaints or praises for this book. It doesn't hurt, but neither is it great. I made a reference to The Madman's Daughter and I meant it. That book is superior to this one in every way. You will find more horror in that book, you will find a better mystery, you will find a character who is not so dishwater-pale. This book is not terrible, but it is just washed out in comparison.

The Summary:
It seems the stories I have been told were untrue. The streets of America are not paved with gold but with uneven stones.
Annabel Lenore Lee has newly arrived in Philadelphia. It is 1826. Annabel has spent the past 10 years living with her beloved mother (now deceased) in Siam (present-day Thailand). Compared to beautiful, colorful, vibrant, sunny Siam, dank, dark, gloomy Philadelphia could not be more different. Her home is beautiful, grand, a majestic mansion.
A sense of unease fills my stomach as I stare up at what is to be my new home.
Dark and foreboding, it appears just as unwelcoming as the rest of Philadelphia.
But it's all the less welcoming for it.

Life in a new country takes getting used to. From knowing "her place" as the young mistress of a house...apparentlyy, a young lady is not expected to help out around the house---as compared to Siam, where there are no class lines among the villagers and missionaries.
I hurry out of bed and reach for the bucket. “Let me help you with that.”
“No, miss,” she scolds. “It isn’t yer place.”
To dressing, to behaving like a young lady in a culture so completely foreign to her.
“Practice makes perfect. It shall certainly take time to prove this with someone of your limited background.”
Dropping my arms, I feel an ache in my shoulders.
Clearly, my education is going to require a vast amount of practice.
Frankly, life in America sucks. She is a disgrace. Her father is disappointed in her. Annabel is unwanted, a disappointment. A disgrace.
Father takes another step closer. Deep lines mark his face. He looks almost as old as Grandpere. “She bowed like a man, for God’s sake. Her manners are sorely lacking, and until they have been improved, I shall not encourage her.”
The only bright spot in her life are her beloved grandfather...and a young man. Allan Poe.

All is not well in Philadelphia. The headlines of the newspaper scream of murder, death, dismemberment.
...the limbs had been torn asunder from the torso and the head cleaved from his neck. POLICE urge all women and children to take heed of this atrocity and to take special cautions.
The streets of Philadelphia aren't the only place that holds secrets and danger. There are mysterious figures walking her gardens at night. There is a strange, nervous, twitchy young man newly hired to watch over the grounds of the mansion. There are hidden rooms in Annabel's new home. Rooms that she should not explore.
Every muscle in my body has tightened and my hand shakes when I place it upon the doorknob. I take a deep breath and try to steady my nerves, and just as I am about to turn the knob—

Someone grabs hold of me.
And then there's the kindly Allan's cousin. One who terrifies her. One who holds suspicion.
“Allan’s always a gentleman, that one,” Cook replies.
“He’s very different from his cousin, Edgar,” I say. “I’m amazed they are even related.”
The room instantly goes silent. Cook stares intently at her tea as Maddy and Johanna exchange glances.
“Just stay away from him, miss. Stay away. He’s a right nasty one.”
There are many secrets and mysteries within her house, surrounding her friends, and a man she is coming to love. Annabel must confront these mysteries, as well as come to face with the darkness that may be within her.
I did it because I thought
you would be scared.” He watches me carefully. “But I suppose it is in your blood. You were never going to be scared by any of this, were you? You are your father’s daughter after all, Annabel Lee.”
The Setting: There is a dark Gothic feel about this book, and it is quite atmospheric. It is to be expected, since the basis of this book is Edgar Allan Poe, after all.
All I can make out is a large structure of pale stones, tall doors, and rows of windows gleaming like sharp teeth against the night.
There are a ton of rains and thunderstorms, and dreary weather in general. It doesn't hold a candle to the beautiful gaslamp-lit setting in The Madman's Daughter. There are a few grisly scenes in a book, some involving the dissection of an animal. Again, there is no comparison. I was only mildly intrigued. I was never disgusted by any of the very minute gore in this book, and I longed for more blood, more horror. I never got it.

The Characters: Bland. All of them. Including Edgar & Allan Poe, which is simply unforgivable. Allan Poe is more romantic lover and brooding poet than a wildly exciting hero...which is rather appropriate to the actual person, I suppose. We see Allan as he struggles to put down his words, to write his story.
His attention returns to me. “Have you ever felt a story was inside you, but you could not do it justice? It’s as if there were something standing in your way, blocking you from being able to write the story, and only this other piece of you could understand whatever it was?”
As for Annabel, I just don't have much to say. She is likeable, but she is so bland that I feel she has no personality at all. I like her; if we were to meet in the streets as strangers, she is the sort at which I would nod a polite hello, but I would completely forget her by the next street.

Annabel is a really nice person. She is truly, genuinely nice. She is smart. She is an aspiring surgeon, which displeases her father to no ends. Annabel truly wants to please her father. She is a people-pleaser, and it upsets her so much that she keeps continuing to be a disappointment.
I am saddened that I have already offended Father with my rough manners and poorly chosen gift.
I wonder if I shall always be such a disappointment to him.
She has knowledge of medicinal herbs, and she constantly makes references to Siam, which is appropriate, but I felt like it disrupted the flow of the book quite a bit. Not to mention the discrepancies in the references to Siam.

They don't have kimonos in Thailand. Wrong country.

The Romance: There is no insta-love, but there is a fair amount of romance. I did not mind the romance. I did not mind that her heart beats quickly at the thought of Allan. It is appropriate for the time, it is expected of a sheltered young woman, with few friends, who seeks the kindness and love and acceptance that she does not receive from her own father.

The romance is predictable, and unremarkable, like everything in this book.

Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in the final edition.
Profile Image for Rayne.
852 reviews288 followers
April 17, 2014
 photo 1341933548751_zps475243d8.jpg
A tribute to your works, Poe, that's what you're reading. Don't worry, I made the exact same expression.

1.5 stars

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Poe is my literary god. If a YA author decides to write a retelling based on his works, then I'm going to expect them to deliver. Poe is inimitable and I am well aware of the fact, but I expect works based on his works of genius to reach certain levels and fulfill certain expectations and I expect these retellings to do Poe justice. As you can see, this one didn't. Quite frankly, I think Of Monsters and Madness might just be the worst YA Poe retelling I've read to date. I knew what I was getting into when I started it. Verday's The Hollow, another retelling based on the works of yet another very influential American author, and I didn't exactly get along, but I was more than willing to give myself a chance with another one of her books. This one was marginally better than The Hollow, but as you can see, it didn't work out very well for me either.

I should admit that my bad rating is based entirely on the quality of the story and not my enjoyment of it. I have to give it to Verday: she knows how to make a book fly by. The chapters go by so fast, you barely know a hundred pages have gone by until you see the page numbers. It is also entertaining in the sense that you don't get bored reading it. So, kudos for that. I didn't hate the book, if you can believe that. It's a book that's hard to hate because it goes by so quickly and actually entertains, but the fact that the book is badly executed is undeniable and impossible to ignore, hence, the 1 star.

This book is, essentially, a mess Poe's most famous lines and symbols and some very influential Victorian works, thrown together in a blender and then poured into a weak and insubstantial bowl of no original design. In this book, we not only have several Poe stories and poems thrown into the mix, but we also have Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Shelley's Frankestein, and a bit of Well's The Island of Doctor Moreau. It's perfectly okay to borrow from other authors, especially highly influential authors whose works defined genres, in order to construct your story, but there's hardly any original content in this novel and basically every single plot twist and development was borrowed from another work.

And there's the problem with the Poe references. This book is not exactly a retelling, at least not of Poe. It just takes bits and pieces from his stories and poems and uses them to build a story for a romance to take place. I'm all for Poe references, but in this book, they were just poured in buckets all over the place. There was no subtlety with the references, or coherence for that matter, there were no limitations to the amounts of references that were thrown all over the place, and even worse, many of them had absolutely no purpose other than being thrown in there to remind the reader once more that this was a Poe retelling and that the author knows enough of Poe to throw in several important symbols from the stories and poems. Furthermore, the narration didn't even let the references sink in before it rushed to overkill by over-explaining them. I felt like they were talking down to me, making them extremely obvious and then explaining them because there could possibly be no way I would understand them. I wanted Poe references, heck, that's why I picked the book up, but what I didn't want was to be bombarded with them, particularly when most of them served no purpose in the story other than to show just how much Poe research had gone into the story.

Moreover, in spite of all those references, the book didn't even scratch the surface of what Poe really means. You can throw in all the ravens and the beating hearts under the floorboards and quote Annabel Lee all you like, but if you don't even explore the true meaning of Poe's works, then all those are worth nothing. Poe wrote macabre, dark things not for shock value or entertainment, and definitely not just because of his disturbed mind and tragic life, but because he believed in the darkness of the human heart, in the propensity of humanity for evil and how the soul was really a dark, twisted thing. Nowhere in this book is this idea even explored. It's brushed over with the love interest, but the author didn't commit to it and left it all hanging, excusing it and using it as a plot device. A book that tries to retell Poe's works and fails to even consider an exploration of the darkness of humanity is a book that, in my eyes, has failed.

From the very beginning, Verday effectively killed any possibility of suspense in the novel with a thoroughly unnecessary preface that's really just a scene from later in the book and, more importantly, by naming the love interest and the antagonist Allan and Edgar, respectively. Not that the novel wouldn't have been extremely predictable without that preface or without naming the characters Allan and Edgar, but in one clean swoop, she destroyed every shred of mystery and suspense the novel could've had and rendered pointless about two thirds of the novel, which is how long it takes the main character to realize what Verday reveals to us from the first page, which, needless to say, makes for some slight irritation while you are reading. So, there's no mystery in this novel, no suspense, only romance. And it is absurd.

The romance in this novel is of the instant and very cheesy variety, it might as well be microwavable mac & cheese. There's no chemistry and there are only two 5-minute conversations before they are head over heels in love and passionately declaring their love for each other. If the idea of someone named Allan Poe as a sexy, young love interest that sexily struggled throughout the novel to write "The Raven" seemed ludicrous as soon as it showed up, hearing him recite poetry to Annabel and say things like "I only find inspiration when I see your face" made it about a thousand times worse and it elicited more than a fair amount of groans from me. Allan was not even a decent romantic interest: he had the personality of a brick wall and collectively showed up in the novel for about a third of the bulk of the story. Quite honestly, I would've found far more believable a romance between Annabel and her maid, Maddy, since they spend the entire book together, doing nice things for each other, declaring their friendships and saying pretty things to each other.

That synopsis makes me wonder if whoever wrote it really read the book because there is no love triangle in this novel and she is not torn between the two guys - nor is the novel a retelling or has anything from Annabel Lee other than the name, but that's a discussion for another day. It is quite evident since his first appearance that Annabel despises Edgar and has only eyes for Allan. And, of course, there's no mystery to the murders. Verday took care of that from the very start.

Now, on to Annabel. I have to give it to Verday, she always manages to infuse some semblance of life into her female main characters through a particular set of skills and fills them with admirable drive and unwavering ambition. That is not to say, however, that they are not doormats, completely incompetent for everything else and dense whenever the plot demands it. Annabel allowed every single person to walk all over her in the story and never stood up for herself, but that's okay, because she's just so kind and caring and giving and capable. The entire book was just a chronicle of all the good deeds Annabel does for those around her. I'm not saying having a kind MC is bad, gods no, but when the entire story of the novel is basically her going back and forth doing good deeds for people, completely ignoring the main storyline and what's supposed to be the plot of the novel, then I have a problem. It isn't until almost the end that the story suddenly remembers that the plot promised some mystery and finally focuses on the murders and whatever else is going on besides Annabel's acts of kindness, her dropping her head before her asshole father and despairing about the possibility of disappointing him, and her "passionate" random meetings with Allan. That's basically the whole book.

Annabel's inner monologues were repetitive and often went off in tangents that had no relevance or foundation in the novel. Towards the end she starts wondering if she's a cold as her dad, a scene that's cocooned between two other scenes featuring her in very hysterical and extremely emotional states, thus negating every possibility that she is, in fact, as cold and calculating as her father, and yet she begins to ponder this and finishes the last chapter swearing she'll be like that from now on, which she never was in the first place and which completely goes out the window with the completely disjointed epilogue that closes the novel. I would've appreciated this sudden identity crisis a bit more if it had been done better and if The Madman's Daughter hadn't done it first about a million times better and more believably. Ultimately, Annabel was nothing but a pair of eyes from which to see Allan being wonderful and Edgar doing "bad, bad things". She might as well have been the wallpaper in the house for all that she contributed to the novel and all the emotional impact her story had. The story consistently attempted to include her in the events, but they were just shallow and forced attempts, like the antagonist threatening her into finding something for him towards the end of the novel, which ultimately served no point or purpose.

The story is full of holes and inconsistencies and the end is entirely nonsensical. It has a very abrupt ending that forcibly makes space for a sequel that it's quite obvious I'm not reading. The book is a quick and fairly entertaining read, but that doesn't eliminate the fact that it is a bad book and a poor tribute to Poe and his works.
Profile Image for Stephanie (Bookfever).
976 reviews113 followers
December 6, 2014
It pains me to say this but Of Monsters and Madness was awful. There were many moments that I have considered giving up on it but I'm not one of those people who DNF a book quickly. I'm glad I did finish it, though but really... it was so boring.

I'm a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan and on top of that I usually love gothic books. So yeah, you can say I'm disappointed that I didn't like this one at all. Also, I had heard that this book was beautifully written, but I found myself thinking the writing was rather plain, not the mention the characters drove me nuts and the plot wasn't anything special.

Annabel was a colorless and uninteresting character. She was whiny, naive and just plain dull. Oh and let's not forget about the insta-love. It was the worst. Allan wasn't even that interesting and yet Annabel seemed to be infatuated with him so badly. There was no chemistry whatsoever between them. I also didn't get the Poe connections aside from using the names Annabel Lee, Edgar and Allan.

There was no characters development whatsoever. Especially the romance was horrible. Everything in between the beginning and the end was a lot of bla-bla-bla and nothing happened at all. Also the secondary characters seemed pointless. I guess I kind of liked Annabel's grandfather a.k.a. grandpere. But it seemed he was only in the story for Annabel to have someone in her family who actually loves her. And her father? Was a jerk. Through most of the story he barely acknowledges her excistence and at the end he suddenly says that he's always loved her? Right. It does not make sense at all.

The only possitive thing was the prologue. That seemed interesting enough so I had hoped that it would be a great book, but then it went all downhill fast, unfortunately. And it ended in a cliffhanger, so there will be more of this story. I'm not sure if I want to read it.

Overall, Of Monsters and Madness was a big fail for me. I didn't like the characters, story or even the way it was written. It was one big snoozefest.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews713 followers
September 1, 2014
***This mini-review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This book was sorely disappointing. It had a lot of potential and there were some truly enjoyable moments but on the whole, I felt let down.

Let’s start with the main character. I cannot count the number of times I facepalmed or rolled my eyes as a result of her stupidity. She was so desperate to be accepted and I never quite understood that. Especially in the beginning when it seemed that all she wanted was to be accepted by her father, who quite frankly was an ass. She barely knew this guy and he was incredibly rude, and yet she kept on seeing it as her failure when he acted so rudely towards her. Then there was also the fact that she wasn’t all that smart. I mean, someone had to tell her that what she was feeling was grief and there were times when it seemed like during her time in Siam, she was completely isolated from civilization when that wasn’t the case, at least from what I understood.

Then there were a lot of other times when there weren't enough details or other times when certain things were mentioned only to never be brought up again. Another thing that also really bothered me was the kimono. THE KIMONO IS JAPANESE, NOT THAI (Thailand was called Siam back then). I mean, I am obviously not 100% sure, but then Google said so. You might wonder why I am so riled up because she could have obviously still gotten it there, but the kimono was supposed to represent an item from her previous home and that it was NOT.

Don’t even get me started on the romance… it had instalove written all over it and, moreover, the love interest was about as interesting as a brick. I was a lot more intrigued by his cousin, Edgar.

The mystery is basically what made this book interesting and I really did like the way the author entwined details of Poe's works into the novel. I thought a lot of those things were neat but the mystery was simply not captivating enough for me to want to give this book a higher rating. I felt like the twist was pretty obvious although admittedly, it was a pretty interesting one.

There were a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of the book and even with all my problems with this one, I definitely plan on reading the sequel, if there is one. I am hooked.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
924 reviews40 followers
November 13, 2014
WTF there better be another book. wwwttttfff. I am flipping out. seriously.. thats it? URRRGGG

Oh, Dear sweet baby Jesus. I loved this book. I need more books like this. Edgar Allen Poe given a Jekyll and Hyde complex? Yes, please. Why are there not MORE books like this? Of Monsters and Madness started an uncontrollable love for Historical+Paranormal Young Adult books for me. And I never want it to end. It is just a shame that I cannot find very many books like this.

I love Edgar Allen Poe. I own 7 different copies of his greatest works in those huge books. So when I read that Of Monsters and Madness was about him while he was in Philadelphia, fiction, of course, I had to get it. And I am so glad that I did. I read it in one day and was so sad it was over.

Annabel Lee is a very interesting character. She makes the perfect love interested for Allen, the better half. The entire time I was reading I kept wondering when they would find out they are related, haha! That never did become a factor in the book but it was still fun to wonder.

Allen is the good half. He was the main personality before Annabel's father split him in two. Now Edgar is fighting to become the ONLY personality and it seems like he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Murder, arson, treachery. You name it, Edgar has probably done it.

The romance between Annabel and Allen was very quick and very hot. I don't normally care too much for instalove, but back that that was actually a thing. People would fall in love and get married so fast and have kids at such a young age.

I love the time period the book is set in. It might not be historically correct but I think the author did a great justice to the book by centering it around 1826.

The fire and Grand-pere were probably the hardest things to deal with for Annabel, at least until she found out what was going on with Edgar and the town murders. Grand-pere was the only one who seemed to understand Annabel. He died extremely young though. But I guess for the time period he wasn't that young.

The book ended very strangely. Allen was recovering but Annabel needed Edgar to come back one last time to assist her with her father. What happened to her father? Who took him? There isn't going to be a second book so I was left with a bunch of questions floating through my head that I would really love to have answers to.

But the main point I want to get across to everyone is that I LOVED THIS FREAKING BOOK!

Overall, despite the insurmountable number of questions I have, I gave the book 5/5 kitties.
Profile Image for Melliane.
2,014 reviews341 followers
May 31, 2016

Mon avis en Français

My English review

Before its release, the idea of a horror novel with a gothic atmosphere attracted me right away. Yet soon after, many mixed reviews began to swarm everywhere cooling my ardor dpwn and it took me more time to get into the novel. Besides, I can tell you right away that I do not know much about Edgar Allan Poe and even less about his character Annabel Lee, which means that for once, I could not make any comparison, but give a personal opinion of the story itself.

As I said, I was not expecting too much given all the reviews I had read on some blogs, but it’s true that eventually I might have appreciated a bit more than some my reading. We discover a young girl, Annabel, who has always lived on the margins of society, until her mother dies and that her father calls her at home with him. But here, pretty strange things are going on in this house and it would seem that in the city, a serial killer is at large … It will be very difficult for the girl to adapt to this new life she has not really wanted, to see that her father is not interested in her and that she has to change to be accepted. But in addition to this, Annabel is also determined to understand the secrets that are hidden from her in this house and so what had happened.

We have an idea about the events, it is not a surprise, but it was interesting to see our heroine understand gradually what was going on, as well as the actions of her father and his assistants. It was pretty funny to see that the author had put some Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in her story because it is not necessarily what we would expect. By cons, even if we read the story fast enough, it is true that it perhaps lacked of a little something and I admit I was a little disappointed with the end that ultimately try somehow to add a cliffy to make you want to read the sequel. I’m not sure whether it is really necessary as we do not really understand what happened to get there.

In any case, I had a good time and if I get the chance I think I’ll read more later with pleasure.
Profile Image for Jolene.
129 reviews32 followers
June 24, 2014
**Thank you EgmountUSA and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

This wasn't a bad book. Everything about it just kind of felt flimsy. The first page was by far the best. We had blood, guts, and the perfect set up for a Gothic Horror. That was unfortunately the only real horror in this title. From here the story is a slow, light gothic with a weak mystery.

Annabel's mother has just died. She leaves the only real home she has ever known to move half a world away to live with her father, who she has never met. Having grown up living with Missionaries in Siam, Philadelphia is a big shock to her. Here she is not allowed to help out like she was in Siam. She is not allowed to dress like she used to. She has to learn to proper ways to greet people. She has to learn what is and what isn't acceptable for a women to talk about. She isn't allowed to continue learning medicine. This is the biggest blow to her. As if learning everything she says and does is considered wrong wasn't enough, she has to worry about a murderer on the loose. A murderer who's victims all have ties to her father

Annabel was a likable character, but she was too weak minded. She was your basic Gothic heroine. Which would be fine, if we weren't expecting her to be more. Throughout the book, she brings up her love of medicine and dreams of becoming a female doctor. When she brings this up to her father, he makes it clear that women have no place meddling in such things. Rather then taking offense, she gets upset by she fact that she upset her father. There is no way a female in those times would ever amount to anything above wife and mother unless they fought for it. Unfortunately, Annabel doesn't have any fight in her.

Mixed with the retelling of Poe's life, there is a bit of another classic horror story. I can't say which one without giving away the big secret, but I figured it out before the half way mark. The author made the same mistake many other authors make: it was too obvious.

I was really irritated by the abrupt ending, but now I see there is a sequel to this. The Ballad of Annabel Lee is due out in Fall 2015. I will probably skip it.
Profile Image for Albert.
1,425 reviews32 followers
October 27, 2014
Title - Of Monsters and Madness

Author - Jessica Verday

Summary -

After the death of her mother, seventeen year old Annabelle Lee is called to Philadelphia by the father she has never met. Knowing her father is a scientist and surgeon, Annabelle hopes this is the opportunity to pursue her dream of practicing medicine. But it is 1826 and young women do not perform surgery and young Annabelle is far from the daughter her father envisioned.
The young girl lacks the manners and etiquette expected of a young woman and she soon finds that her father and his reputation is not what it seems either. There are mysterious comings and goings to the lower floors of the house and the rumors of a killer on the loose in the streets.

"...A sense of unease fills my stomach as I stare up at what is to be my new home. Dark and foreboding, it appears just as unwelcoming as the rest of Philadelphia..."

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

Young Annabelle is enchanted by her father's assistant, Allan, but repulsed by his cousin Edgar. In Edgar, she sees he exact opposite to who Allan is. A brutality and animal darkness that frightens her.
Slowly young Annabelle must unravel the secrets of her father's laboratory and the delivers that come and go. Deliveries that are dead bodies. Bodies that may have been victims of the killer that stalks Philadelphia in the 1800s.

Review -

Of Monsters and Madness is an ambitious novel. It dares to cross genres and pull into its plot people and settings that hold a strong place in the heart of many horror readers. Jessica Verday has pieced together bits of Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, and the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. This is heightened by the young assistants to Annabelle's father, the cousins Allan and Edgar Poe. Done poorly and the book is sure to slammed by angry readers. Some might slam it anyway based on general principle and false offense. The fact is that Verday has written an entertaining and fast paced novel and has used the setting and time to her advantage. Rather than see it as an offense to these great novels, I feel she has paid respect and due these tales and uses them to enhance her own tale of murder, madness and a haunted home.
Annabelle is a strong character, far from the only home she has known and alone after the loss of her mother. She must find her way not only through the unfriendly streets of the city but through the hypocritical and pretentious elite of the time. Knowing that her knowledge and wits would not be appreciated in the form of a young girl by anyone. Least of all the father she so wants to be loved by. Edgar and Allan Poe are a creative addition to the story. Cousins who are two sides of the same coin. But most of all, the dark home, with its locked rooms and basement. The setting fits the tempo and atmosphere of this novel.

A very good read.
Profile Image for Kassidy.
338 reviews11.1k followers
November 22, 2014
This is a fun, entertaining, and creepy read that is great for Halloween. I honestly do not have much to say about this book because there was not much to it. It's an interesting little story.

I would consider myself a fan of Edgar Allan Poe's work and so the retelling aspect of the story definitely intrigued me. I enjoyed seeing what the author did with Poe and Annabel Lee.
This book is also set in a historical fiction setting that creates a wonderfully dark mood. Philadelphia made for a haunting setting that gave me the creeps.
I don't have much to say about Annabel's character. She has a hard time adjusting to life in her father's home, which is understandable. She has a strong will to be a doctor and to transcend a woman's role of that time. She has admirable traits, however, she bored me and I didn't find her overly intriguing.

The mystery and the plot is what kept me reading. I had to find out what these secrets were and how everything was going to play out. The pacing is fairly slow with a day by day time line, but I didn't mind. I can't say that I was blown away by the ending. It was slightly predictable and abrupt. I'm not sure if there is going to be a sequel, but the ending is left open for one. I'm not sure if I would read the sequel though.

If you are a hardcore fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I would not suggest this book for you because the author takes many liberties with his life and the story is definitely not accurate.

Overall, if you're looking for a quick, creepy read for the Halloween season, this might be a good one. However, I think if you are a huge fan of horror, this book will probably not impress you.

* I received an eARC copy of this book from Edelweiss and EgmontUSA in return for an honest review. *

Review originally posted at: http://travelingthroughpages.booklike...
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,689 reviews1,267 followers
April 15, 2014
Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to EgmontUSA and Edelweiss.)
Teenager Annabel goes to Philadelphia to stay with her father, after her mother’s death. When she arrives everything isn’t quite what she expected.
What is wrong with her father? And what does he do in his lab?

This was an okay story, but I lost interest.

Annabel was an okay character, and I admired how she relied on her own instincts and learning in stressful situations. I felt sorry for her because of the way her father treated her, but at least her grandfather stuck up for her some.

The storyline in this was slow, and I got bored. There just wasn’t enough happening to keep me interested, and the scary bits weren’t scary at all. I also didn’t appreciate that the author had named one of the characters Edgar Allan Poe.
There was some romance but I didn’t like that either. I didn’t like the love interest at all, and I really didn’t get why Annabel did! I suppose she didn’t exactly have many options though.
The ending was pretty poor in my opinion, and the book just seemed to stop. Not that I was upset that I was finished, quite the opposite in fact, but I just felt like we didn’t get closure.
Overall; slow, dull, and with a poor ending,
4 out of 10.
Profile Image for Denise.
643 reviews58 followers
April 24, 2014
This is a reimagining of the life of Edgar Allan Poe. As a Poe fan, I was very drawn to this book. I don't mind when authors take certain liberties for the sake of fiction -- as long as it's disclosed. I enjoyed this book, but do think that for many adult readers it might fall a bit flat. You know that a book about Edgar Allan Poe is going to be creepy, suspenseful, and should have a good sense of atmosphere. For an adult reader, there might not be enough of that. It came so close at times...but I wanted more.

However, this book was marketed to me as a children's book. I think my middle-grade readers would LOVE it. I especially recommend it for kids who have enjoyed Goosebumps or Bone Chillers. This book is a step up from those books in terms of "level of horror," but not yet at the level of, well...Edgar Allan Poe. I can't wait for the official release so I can give it to all my favorite young horror fans.

*Thanks for NetGalley and EgmontUSA for providing a review copy of this book.
Profile Image for Amy!.
2,261 reviews29 followers
October 20, 2014
I'm gonna call this a 1.5 stars because I didn't like it but I wasn't as mad at it as a 1 star rating implies. It was just kind of boring and dumb and the main character was very irritating and the narrator sounded distractingly like Princess Jasmine, but only when Princess Jasmine is being whiny and annoying. And talk about an inexplicable romance. So very much eye rolling all around, and I probably wouldn't have finished it if it had been longer than 6 hours. I wanted to like this so much because the premise is great! But nope.
96 reviews174 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
May 12, 2014
Last year, my library received a grant for a really cool program from the NEA called The Big Read. There's a list of books that a community can choose from, and then the idea is that the community reads the book and creates and participates in activities based on that book. We did Selected Tales of Edgar Allan Poe in October, which was wonderfully spooky and just a ridiculous amount of fun. I had forgotten how seriously disturbing (yet amazing) some of his stories are. Poe is also kind of an enigma, but I've always been pro-Poe, even if he did marry his cousin. Poor guy had issues.

Too often, the misunderstood or marginalized become the villains of a narrative. I guess it's somehow more convenient to transform an ill person into a bad person than to transform a goody two-shoes into the harbinger of doom. I mean, in comic books, disfigurement or mental illness lead straight to villainy. This is something we need to change. It perpetuates the shunning of the "other" and makes people think that legitimate mental illness indicates that that person is also a) a psychopath, b) a murderer, or c) both.

This is what happens, unfortunately, in Of Monsters and Madness. (This title felt vaguely familiar to me and I didn't know why, until I realized that I was thinking of the band Of Monsters and Men. TOTALLY different. This book is not Icelandic, for one thing.) Of Monsters and Madness is a reworking of Edgar Allan Poe's life ... well, kind of. The subject of his famous poem, Annabel Lee, is the narrator of the book, but they don't live by the sea. They live in Philadelphia.

Annabel Lenore Lee (ha! I see what you did there!) comes from Siam to live with her father. From what I could gather, Annabel and her mother first lived in England, then "stowed away" with some missionaries on a ship to Siam. As you do. In Siam, she learns to meditate, she prefers simple food, and her mother is some sort of acupressure practitioner (I am not making this up). While that may seem fairly common today, I don't really think English citizens in the 1820s would be accepting of those lifestyles. Annabel also seems to think that the style of dress in Siam (Thailand) is the kimono. According to some quick research (hi, Wikipedia!) traditional Thai dress for women has different pieces such as the sinh or the pha nung. No kimono here. Because people in Japan wear kimono.

ANYWAY. Annabel shows up alone in Philadelphia, as her mom died a month before the ship tickets arrived. It's not convenient to have both parents alive, you know, especially in YA historical fiction. Her father is a scientist-ish-type guy who is very rude, but Annabel still wants to please him. After he abandoned her and her mother.

Upon her arrival in Philadelphia, Annabel promptly falls in the river and is rescued by the dashing Allan Poe, her father's research assistant. He fishes her out of the drink and instructs her new maidservant to loosen her stays ... wow, this scene reads remarkably like that one in Pirates of the Caribbean. "Obviously you've never been to Singapore."

Annabel meets her friendly grandfather, whom she must address as grandpère, because, you know, French???? (I honestly have no idea here), and her father, who suffers from the residual effects of a serious bout of "typhoid," which causes him immense pain. His symptoms sound more like rheumatoid arthritis, but whatever. Typhoid. Fine. He is an immense jerk to his daughter, whom he presumably wanted to come to the States, since he paid for her ticket and all. The author sets him up as the classical mad scientist.

I kind of stopped reading at this point. This is like 25% of the way through the book. I skimmed through and another guy named Edgar Poe shows up, and he's dangerous and smoldering and absolutely bonkers. Murders grip Philadelphia--who could possibly be committing them??? I'll give you three guesses, but you won't need the second two.

THEN we find out that Annabel's pops was experimenting with a serum that separates the good and evil parts of a person's personality. Thus, Edgar and Allan are the same person. Dun dun DUNNNNN! In the end, all is well, and Allan commits himself to a hospital in penance for the crimes of Edgar. The last chapter occurs two weeks after the main action, and somewhere in that period, Annabel's dad has disappeared, so she sneaks into the hospital, disguised as a boy (why???) to ask Allan to take the serum and again become Edgar so he can find her father.

What? When did daddy dearest go missing? Why does she need "Edgar" to find dad? Why is she disguised? I am so confused.

So, basically, this is a strange, muddled retread of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson, but with Edgar Allan Poe as a murderer. There are these winky nods to Poe's work--such as Annabel's dad's house having stained glass windows donated by "Prince Prospero." I totally want the depraved Duke of the Red Death to have a hand in my interior decorating! There's Annabel's middle name, Lenore. There's the book that Allan is writing.

Evidently, it's just easier to cast Poe as the villain because he is mysterious. He was troubled. Tortured. Hmmm ... obviously he must have had Dissociative Identity Disorder!

Actually, it's theorized that Poe had bipolar disorder (no puns, please), and looking at the high highs and low lows of his work, as well as his extreme intelligence yet lack of comfort in society, that's certainly a valid hypothesis. But nope. Let's just give him a serum to turn him into a monster. Makes better fiction. Ugh.

The other thing that seriously irked me about what I managed to read was that practically every other sentence consisted of Annabel saying something like, "In Siam, ..." YES. Siam is a different country, with a different culture; ergo, your experiences in America will be different. I do not need that pointed out to me at every turn, thank you very much.

Okay, the other other thing that irked me was the lack of plot (which a very few books can get away with, but that's because they're character studies or avant-garde). What little plot existed came straight out of other authors' works. It was Dr. Moreau meets Dr. Frankenstein meets Dr. Jekyll.

Not recommended at all. I have other things to read.

A digital copy of this book was provided by Edelweiss for my review. All opinions in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Jessica.
961 reviews44 followers
July 9, 2017
-1 Boring-Star.
From the very beginning, the preface gives you an eerie glimpse into the horrors to come. Skinned and cut up body parts... i thought this meant the story was going to be interesting....but boy was i wrong.

I did not like that the setting took place in 1826. I am not a fan of period writing in the 1800's with horse carriages and big ball gown dresses. I guess it's because i find it harder to relate to the character and thus enjoy the story thoroughly.

It was so long! It took way to long to get anywhere. Annabelle was undressing out of her dress for two pages! Two pages!?! :(

I expected a modern tale on a horror story. What i got didn't even come close. I gave up after 25% and then i started skimming for anything interesting. But the story just kept dragging.

Profile Image for Angie.
432 reviews17 followers
June 30, 2017
This was an ARC picked up at my Other Job and I'm glad I snagged it as it is fairly delightful. The present tense is a bit strange and takes some getting used-to but the basic charm of the writing and concept makes up for that. The concept. Oh, the concept. I enjoyed the concept enough to wish the book was at least 100 pages longer to make better use of the concept as the pacing definitely could have used more room to grow. Two thirds build-up and backstory and setting and then... A rush to the end. The abruptness of the ending also left some loose threads danging and the epilogue made it worse. Of course, this seems to be the first in a series so I'm hoping/looking forward to more details and growth.
Profile Image for Shannon.
65 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2018
I can't deny that this story was compelling. I'm curious about the sequel....
Profile Image for Rachel Patrick.
295 reviews207 followers
November 7, 2014
This review (and others) can be seen in all its proper formatting glory on my blog Beauty and the Bookshelf.

3.5 stars!

I'm interested by things related to Edgar Allan Poe, even though I've only read a bit of his work. (I think it's because of the idea of Poe, this person we all sort of know.) So when I first heard about Of Monsters and Madness, which features the characters from Poe's poem "Annabel Lee," I wanted to read it. And I actually quite liked it!

For years, Annabel lived in Siam with her mother. But when her mother dies she goes to live with her father in Philadelphia, and is surprised to not receive a happy reunion. She learns that some strange things are happening not just in Philadelphia, where people are being murdered, but in her own house, too. And of course, like protagonists do, she tries to put the puzzle together.

It's always nice when I like a book more than I thought I would, and I thoroughly enjoyed this. Part of that may be, I think, because of the writing. It sort of fit the time period the book was set in--the 1820s. Now, it wasn't all "thee" and "thy" and "might me oh my," and wasn't modern, either, but it was sort of...elegant. Verday's writing style seemed to be reminiscent of the time period, and I really liked it and think it helped make the story more successful.

Even though I didn't love Of Monsters and Madness, I still think it's worth reading. It's a nice, quick novel that can be a bit engrossing, and definitely an enjoyable read. This book did have a few flaws, though. I was sometimes annoyed by Annabel's thoughts, and how hard she seemed to want to please her (seemingly undeserving) father, and how hard on herself she'd be when she failed. Going into this, I didn't know it wasn't a standalone. I don't have a problem with that--in fact, I really would like the sequel sooner rather than later--but the book was kind of...slow. Again, I didn't mind it. But I reached a certain point in the book and was surprised by how much had and hadn't happened yet. Of Monsters and Madness felt kind of like a slow build-up to everything that will (hopefully) happen in the next book.

All that said, I like how this book twisted the tale in Poe's poem. In fact, I don't know that it really has much to do with the poem, except for some names. Instead, Of Monsters and Madness focuses on more of the morbidness that we may expect from a Poe tale. Mr. Lee, Annabel's father, is what you might call a mad scientist, and his daughter seems to both fear and be fascinated by him. (I was reminded a bit of The Madman's Daughter, and not in a bad way.) What I really thought interesting were two other characters--Edgar and Allan. I prefered Edgar over Allan, I think, (though they both had different likeable attributes), though the romance felt a little rushed. (Though maybe fitting for the time.) As a protagonist, Annabel was pretty bearable, and kind of like a Nancy Drew, which was cool. I liked her friendship with her maid, and adored Grandpere. (He reminded me of the grandfather in The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan.)

A slightly gothic feel, with lovely writing and interesting characters, plus some surprising twists and turns (seriously, I so did not see that one coming, but it was excellent), made for an admirable read with Of Monsters and Madness. From what I've seen, people who are mega Poe fans and are super familiar with his work don't like this as much, but if you're not as familiar with his work, it's a better read. As you already know, I certainly liked it, and am quite eager for that darn sequel. So reading this is really up to you. But if you ask me, I say give it a chance. We may not see many monsters, per se, but there is definitely madness. And I liked it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.
Profile Image for pdbkwm.
346 reviews35 followers
October 6, 2014
I think the writing here was top notch, the only problem is that the story was very bland and boring. It didn't feel like a Gothic tale, nor did it give off an Edgar Allan Poe type feeling. I'm not even sure why he was the inspiration for this story, when it was very much a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale.

And even then, it's fairly obvious to anyone who is reading Of Monsters and Madness that this is the route the story is taking. We meet Allan Poe and then Edgar Poe, who is the cousin of Allan but only appears whenever Allan isn't around...get it. Edgar Allan Poe. Allan Poe. Edgar Poe.


The plot is fairly simplistic, which isn't a bad thing, but there wasn't that spark to make me really like this. I did finish this in one sitting, which is why I'm a fan of the writing, but I kept waiting for a proper payoff that never came.

In Of Monsters and Madness, Annabel Lee travels to Philadelphia to live with her father. Her mother has passed away back in Siam and now Annabel has to live with a man who she didn’t know existed. There, she meets one of her father’s assistants, Allan Poe, and immediately falls for him.

A series of murders are happening in town and the more Annabel learns of them, the more she starts suspecting her father and his ghastly assistant Edgar Poe. Other stuff happens and then the mystery is solved.

When I read the synopsis and saw the cover, I was really excited for this. I love Edgar Allan Poe’s works and I love retellings, but I don’t think I got a good representation of either of these things. Poe’s works felt heavy handed, instead of seamless. And this isn’t a retelling of Annabel Lee, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I know a lot of people complained about how Annabel seems to care more about her father’s opinion of her and how society might view her, instead of being more driven about her dreams. But to be honest, this sort of character trait made sense. She doesn’t know her father and is from a place that places emphasis on elders. She also wants to fit in, because her father is all that she has left.

She’s the same person who keeps saying, “Mother this.” And “Mother that.” So her behaving in that manner never bothered me.

I did have a bit of an issue with her old home though. Siam seems like it’s present day Thailand, but it has a mishmash of other Asian cultures as well. For example, Annabel has a kimono from there, even though kimonos are from Japan. Her father also remarks that she bows like a man, but bowing in Thailand is a bit different than say Korea or Japan. You bow, but you place your hands together. You also don’t bend down so much; just a dip of your head with your hands in the praying position is enough.

Overall: The writing is the best thing about the novel, but sadly nothing else really works here. The characters don’t really come alive and the retelling is seriously lacking on all fronts. This isn’t a retelling of Annabel Lee, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I know this is the third time I’m mentioning it, but I can’t stress that enough. If something is billed as a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe, then it needs to include some of its original flavour. I feel like if I this was marketed properly, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’d probably give it a better rating too. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case here.

The mystery can be seen a mile away and even though Edgar Allan Poe is here, he never feels like the same Poe that we know and love.

The ending made it seem like this was the start of a series. I don’t think I’ll be reading it, but it will be interesting to see if another classic story is “retold.”

Despite my complaints, the writing is good so I might check out the Hollow books. Just nothing from this series though.
Profile Image for Kristin (Blood,Sweat and Books).
370 reviews164 followers
September 5, 2014
Spoilers below!

Of Monsters and Madness was a book I had looked forward to reading from the very moment I came across it on Goodreads many moons ago. I was a huge fan of another book called The Madman's Daughter with similar themes and characters so I was hoping that Of Monsters and Madness would captivate me in the same way as well. Unfortunately that was not to be and here's why:

First off, I really didn't like how obvious it was that Edgar and Allen were the same person. Now maybe the story was supposed to pan out this way but personally I would've liked a little bit more mystery before the big reveal.

Secondly, I didn't really like Annabelle, well, at least the majority of the time. I did like that she was interested in Medicine (in a time when girls were not supposed to be) and that she was really headstrong and self sufficient which was nice but the fact she just accepted the role of a being the lesser sex so easily once arriving at her father's estate and then caring so much about his opinion (when in all honesty it shouldn't of mattered at all) made me angry. Why would this bold, brave, adventurous girl care so much about the opinions of a man who didn't even care that she existed?? I mean, it was just silly.

Lastly, I think the worst part about Of Monsters and Madness was that it really felt like a ripoff of The Madman's Daughter rather than just being in the similar style of story. I really hate using the word plagiarize but at times, it really did read that way. It's almost like the Author had seen the idea and decided that if she tweaked enough of it nobody would call her out for it being almost an exact replica of that book. Again, I hate saying that because I do see the talent of the Author shining through at times but if I was Megan Shepherd I'd be angry seeing a book published so similar to mine.

Now although I did have plenty of issues with the story, Of Monsters and Madness wasn't all bad.

First off, one of the best parts about Of Monsters and Madness is the setting of the story. I really liked that the Author decided to dial back the time period to fit the time Poe is in the area where he meets Annabelle. Yes it might not be historically accurate for Poe fans but I just don't think the story would've worked as well set when it would be.

Secondly, I loved Annabelle's serving maid Maddy, she was adorable and really a finely written character. I really enjoyed all the moments with her on the page and she alone is probably why I kept reading.

The final issue I took with the story was the romance. I just didn't feel the love between the characters. In all honesty, I think I prefer Poe being a loner than mixed up with a girl whose heart he realistically has no chance in keeping captured. Plus I think they had no real sexual chemistry and so that certainly didn't help them either.

Final Thoughts
Of Monsters and Madness had so much potential for greatness but failed to live up to expectations in the end. While I did certainly like aspects of the story and the blending of Poe's works with ideas from Authors like Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson as a cohesive whole Of Monsters and Madness felt more like a ripoff of other popular works rather than something unique to the Author themselves.

With that being said, I'll be rating Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday ★★★.

*Copy reviewed provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
Profile Image for Kirsty-Marie Jones.
409 reviews45 followers
September 6, 2014

I'm not going to pretend I know anything about the poem of Annabel Lee. I know it, of course, but I've never studied it, and although I do like poetry, it's not exactly my favourite thing in the world. I've seen Mary Lindsey's Ashes on Waves that made me want to read it, so when I saw Of Monsters and Madness I couldn't resist (I mean, have you read that title? Of. Monsters. and. Madness. It practically screams read me!) Besides, In the land of Gods and Monsters...I had Lana Del Rey's Gods & Monsters in my head the whole time (don't ask why, my brain doesn't know. And we're not talking about my love for Lana Del Rey, we're talking about the book, right? No more music talk.)

While it's a short and quick read, I read the whole thing in two hours, so it sounds like I really liked it to read it so quick, right? Wrong. Don't get me wrong it lives up to its name. It's a little crazy and vividly disgusting in some places, and it's definitely madness, but the in-between those lovely chapters, the filler chapters bored me. I read it so quick because those crazy chapters kept me reading and I wanted it done otherwise I would've been dragging myself along for days with it otherwise.

Of Monsters and Madness starts with a Wrong Turn preface, and then the official story starts as Annabel Lee comes to live with her Father after an invitation for her and her Mother to stay, but Annabel Lee is the only one who arrives. She meets her Father's servants and the mysterious Mr. Poe after he saves her from drowning. She quickly makes friends with Maddy, and though she's her servant, Annabel Lee is used to doing things her own way and isn't accustomed to people doing things for her. For what she hoped to spend time to get to know and have a father, but is quickly disheartened when her Father is outwardly disapproving of her and she hardly gets to see him since he's in his workspace for most of the time, doing God knows what. And that's what Annabel Lee wants to find out. By her curiosity she meet's the disarming Edgar, Mr. Allan Poe's cousin, and her Father's assistant, and as her curiosity grows and a murderer is on the loose, the truth is nothing she could ever dream of.

The house is luxurious and vivid, it's written beautifully and atmospheric. The writing wasn't a problem for me, however the characters were, I just couldn't connect to them. I like them alright, but they didn't feel like anything special. There's not much going on either, and the twists and plot are predictable, it's shame really because it had so much potential. And I'm going to that synopsis. Romantic? Are you kidding me? 1) The romance wasn't even that good and 2) it was fucking creepy and twisted. It was not romantic. Also, working in Edgar Allen Poe as a character is so wrong in so many ways. Then there's the note in the back, where it says while researching the author had to take liberties with the timeline. There's taking liberties and then there's taking liberties. It's a thin line that in all honestly, was crossed with Of Monsters of Madness.

Of Monsters and Madness is like a sum, If you add a story behind Annabel Lee and Jekyl & Hyde it would make this baby.

~~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.~

Review originally posted on Studio Reads

Profile Image for Rebecca (Unbound Pages).
636 reviews52 followers
September 3, 2014
This review is also on my blog, The Library Canary.

***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***

Deliciously creepy. Perfectly Poe. This book was pretty awesome. I loved all the mystery surrounding the main character, Annabel’s, father, the lab in the basement, and the string of murders occurring in Philadelphia. It was dark and delicious and I loved every second of it.

Annabel has just lost her mother and has been summoned to live with her father in Philadelphia. After living on an island, pretty primitively for many years, Philly is quite the culture-shock. She doesn’t understand what’s proper and what’s not. Combine that with her grief over losing her mother and her father’s cold indifference towards her and this girl has a lot to deal with.

Annabel’s father is a broken man, driven a bit mad by an illness resulting in a leg injury years ago. He used to be a doctor, but had his license removed when he was practicing “unnatural” medicine. So he has this creepy laboratory in his basement where he does experiments in an attempt to cure his illness. I was so not a fan of her father. He was a complete jerk to Annabel, doesn’t offer her any comfort over losing her mother and is less than welcoming when she arrives. He is constantly making her feel bad and just being an all-around dick.

Enter her father’s assistants: Edgar and Allen. See what the author did there? Tee-hee. Edgar and Allen are complete opposites. One charming and gentlemanly, the other twisted and creepy. Getting to know these two characters was great. I really enjoyed the bit of romance we got between Allen and Annabel. It certainly doesn’t overtake the story, but it was sweet. And even though Edgar was dark and a bit scary, we see little glimpses of good in him that just made me want to know more about him.

Other characters that I loved were Annabel’s grandfather and her maid. Both of them were so sweet and understanding with Annabel. They understood that she had come from a completely different culture and they did their best to help her adjust in whatever way they could.

Overall I really enjoyed the story. There were some crazy twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and certain characters had me guessing throughout the whole story. Are they good or bad? The book definitely had a dark, gothic feel to it that just embodied Poe. One of my favorite things about this was the reference to many different Poe stories. Not only is this a retelling of Annabel Lee, but there were also references to The Telltale Heart and more. If you’re a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, I think you will really enjoy this one. The ending is a bit open, but not to fear, according to EgmontUSA, there WILL be a second one. Happy reading all!
Profile Image for Nina Life of a Bookworm.
327 reviews130 followers
September 19, 2014
Life of a bookworm

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.

My first book from Jessica was The Hollow and I instantly loved it. It’s first part of Hollow trilogy and I enjoyed every second reading these three books. I liked her The Beautiful and Dammed too. Of Monsters and Madness? Uh, not that much.

In this book there is soooo many things that are just wrong. But first, I’ll tell you what I liked.

Annabel Lee. Jessica made great character. She is caring, loving and strong. She has interest in medicine though in that time was forbidden for woman to practice medicine. Annabel is just 16 when she comes to her father after she lived with her mother (who died just before her trip to Philadelphia) in Siam. All she knew about medicine she learned from her.

I liked Jessica’s style of writing. She’s great author. And talented we all see that, but story was just not right :(

What I didn’t like... oh. It’s considered that his wife, Virginia Clemm inspired him to write Annabel Lee. So she wasn’t a real person. Jessica created two personalities from Poe. Allan the good and original one, and Edgar, the bad one who was created as side effect of experiment. Poe’s fans will not like that.

The cover is nice but not for this book. I expected to read horror cause of picture on it, not crime story. There are some parts that should look scary but they just weren’t.

Oh, and the end of the book... where is it? Is that all or what? But sequel will be out in September 2015 (Of Phantoms and Fury). I don’t know if I’ll read it :(

I’m disappointed by this book so I gave it two stars review.

Oh, I want to cry. I wanted to love it but I didn’t :(
Profile Image for Beyond Birthday.
144 reviews231 followers
May 23, 2022

So, what's the punchline?

Come on, Jessica, that wasn't funny. Now give me the real book.

You mean to tell me this is the real book?

I've been wondering for a couple of days how this Poe massacre came to be.
How the fuck did this happen?
Well, I think I know how Jessica produced this classic Gothic lit puree.

Say you take several dozens of Poe-shaped laxatives with some Poe-flavored milk of magnesia (whatever flavor that is. He's been dead for so long I doubt there's even a small drop of coffin liquor to do a flavor profile).
Then, you give it a few hours for the abnormal increase of liquid stool to settle. While you wait for the inevitable bloating, be sure to line several blank sheets of paper on the floor—this will work a lot better for you if your floor is not carpeted.
Once you feel the urge, stand over the papers and release your liquid nightmare. There's going to be a lot of spraying and splashing, it isn't perfect, but as long as you aim at the paper in the best way you can, you'll get the desired result.
Well, that's going to be a lot of Poe shit right there!
So, that should cover your Poe retelling, but there's one small problem: Poe might have been a genius, but he was not all almighty. You don't have a story of your own to speak of and he can't piece one for you by borrowing scraps and bits of his own work.
But you don't really feel like writing a story, and although Poe was highly helpful, he can't do the entire job.
Using Poe's work won't be enough, which that leaves you pretty much fucked.
You have to do something.
And the vision suddenly starts dancing in front of your eyes—or maybe you're just staring at your bookshelves.
How about you throw some Stevenson, Wells and Mary Shelley to the mix?
So here we go again.
Take several Stevenson/Mary Shelley-shaped laxatives along with some Jack the Ripper flavored water (at this point you should stop taking milk of magnesia; as much as your commitment and dedication are appreciated, we don't want to find your fossilized, dry remains next to your Poe project).
Again, wait for the imminent rush you're all too familiar with by now and pour all that brown loveliness on the retelling papers.
Let them dry. No one likes a runny Poe.

Once it dried, fit those papers inside a gorgeous cover and give it an alluring, atmospheric title such as Of Monsters and Madness.
Hurl it into the market and pray the angels none of your readers are familiar with Edgar Allan Poe.

Way to go, Jessica.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Majanka.
Author 83 books410 followers
September 30, 2014
Book Review originally published here: http://www.iheartreading.net/reviews/...

If you check the Goodreads reviews for Of Monsters and Madness, then the reviewers either love or hate it, whereas the majority seems to hate it (giving 1-2 star ratings). If you go in expecting a story that stays true to Edgar Allan Poe, and his legacy, then you’ll be dissapointed. Poe is massacred here, up to some degree, and mashed and blended with Jekyll & Hyde – there’s friendly, charismatic, handsome Allan, and then there’s creepy, repulsive Edgar. So in other words, Poe meets Stevenson.

Even Annabel holds no real resemblance to the Annabel Lee from Poe’s poem, except for her name. If you expected a complicated mystery, then you’ll be dissapointed too. The mystery is quite simple, and some of the characters lack depth. The servants, for instance, are just fillers. Annabel’s Dad is your standard gothic mystery character – ill, and using that illness to explain all his flaws, a recluse who barely leaves the house. The house itself is reminiscent of gothic horror too – a sprawling mansion with dark corridors and secret passages.

But despite all that…I enjoyed it.

Annabel has an interesting perspective. Even though she appeared to have the personality of a doormat at first, it almost seemed to make sense, especially considering her upbringing and how she didn’t feel at home in this new city, and that was perfectly understandable. As the story progressed, so did Annabel’s personality. She began to shine in ways I hadn’t expected, taking charge of things herself. She stopped wanting to please everyone, and she even stood up for herself every now and then. Annabel herself is more of a mystery than the whole Poe-plot.

The writing is gripping and atmospheric, and made this book a fast read. I rushed through the pages, and every break seemed too long. The descriptions of the city were breath-taking, and the book breathes gothic horror.

I was impressed, and enjoyed this one. I hope there will be a sequel, because I think Annabel might have some surprises in store for us.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books293 followers
October 31, 2014
I thought this would be a perfect Halloween book. It's spooky and Gothic as it follows a young heroine in a household of secrets. Fresh off the boat from Siam, Annabel is thrust into a new home and life that isn't what she expected. Her father has a mysterious illness and a horrible temper. His assistants come and go at strange hours dragging burlap sacks--one is horrid; one steals her heart. There's an angry tutor blackmailing her father over who-knows-what, and a murderer on the loose.

I like the heroine and her narrative, though I thought it could have been told in a much scarier manner. (I guess this is complaint one. I wasn't scared. What should have come across as spine-tingling somehow fell flat.) She wants to be a doctor despite her father's protests and doesn't see herself as better than anyone else. There's a mystery attached to her too, her throat. And we never get all the answers. I didn't realize this, but this is apparently the first of a series. It must be as it leaves us hanging.

And that is compliant two. I hate being left hanging. That's why I don't usually read a lot of series, not unless they're mysteries in which a case is upon and shut with the book and a new case begins with the next.

And despite the heroine's feminist leanings, she comes off a bit weak in the end. I liked her, would like to know what happens to her, but there was something lacking.

And the end...it glosses over two apparently extremely exciting weeks. It goes from a house nearly burning down and a tragic death to just flying over two weeks in which apparently something drastic happens to her father. (I'm not revealing what to avoid spoiling). But I am perturbed, because what happens to her father actually sounds kind of exciting and despite the fact there's a murderer on the loose and all that, the book lacked excitement. As I said above, something got lost in the telling.

Full review and final thoughts: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/...
Displaying 1 - 30 of 280 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.