"He had created a new style in his stories novel combinations... marrying the surreal with the real…Edgar added occasional loads of blood and guts."

This historical novel of Edgar A. Poe's life succeeds based on the author's talent for creating a memorable lead character. In this book as in life, Poe was at times likeable, alternately pitied and praised. But when finances dwindled away or his life work was criticized, he responded with outbursts of anger, strong drink, and irrational action. Woman were typically Edgar's supporters, early on his foster mother and neighbors' daughters. Poe's wife Virginia (he married his young cousin) and her mother cheered him on. Financial "angels" included female poets and editors who appreciated the genius in his work. John Allan, who took him in after his actor parents died, was Edgar's foster father and chief antagonist in youth, withholding financial support as punishment. Near the end of Poe's life, editor Rufus Griswold defamed him, continuing even after the poet's death from unknown circumstances at forty.

With repetition, Jones has produced a macabre melody surrounding this life story with premonitions of sadness. Words, like Nevermore, and characters, such as Hop-Frog, from Poe's own works are used repeatedly to express Edgar's internal thoughts in reaction to negative events of his life. Jones takes Poe's irrational responses toward enemies one step further, blending them into trance-like visions of said antagonist's gruesome demise.

This book does not answer certain questions about Poe. The reader may wonder at his sharp tongue, a Raven's beak used to antagonize other New England writers such as those in the Transcendental group. Why did he toss away opportunities, including an officer career at West Point and political appointment by President Tyler's administration? Was it self-sabotage or genius at work foreseeing the future popularity of detective and science fiction short stories? Perhaps it was Poe's destiny to blaze like the supernova on which he based his first poem, "Al Aaraaf."

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