Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday


At Amazon: Of Monsters and Madness

OfMonsters_jacket_des4.inddA romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author. The first in a new series.

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.

A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father’s strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person – and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan’s stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.


Written for younger readers (Grade 7 and Up), Of Monsters and Madness was a nice break from my usual YA/NA Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. It is a dark and gritty Historical novel about Edgar Allen Poe and the young woman who inspired his famous poem, Annabel Lee.

In 1826, Annabel leaves her missionary work in Siam (Thailand) and overcomes serious culture shock when she Philadelphia in 1826.  Its not just the change in scenery from the South Pacific island to Pennsylvania that made the transition difficult: she must stop being a hard working missionary and become a proper lady.  Her new servants become her friends, and I liked how Annabel was conflicted about her sudden elevated status.  On one hand she wanted to please her father and grandfather, and on the other: she could only be herself around her maid… and the handsome Allan Poe.  It is fun watching Allan  court Annabel while working for her father and writing words to a poem that later became world famous.

Like one of Poe’s stories, the plot includes murder most foul.  There is a serial killer on the loose, and learning ‘whodunnit’ (and why) is exciting.   There is also a medical mystery to solve… Along the way, we learn a lot about Annabel, her desire to be a physician (which was off-limits to females in the 1820’s), her loyalty to her new friends, her insatiable curiosity and her determination to connect with the father she never knew.

Of Men and Monsters is a well written, nicely paced historical novel – it is a  great tale of “what if” staring a great American writer. The ending makes it clear that Allan and Annabel’s story will continue in Book 2!

Don’t miss the next stops on the Blog Tour:

Saturday, September 13, 2014
Curling Up with a Good Book
Q&A and giveaway

The Children’s Book Review
Guest post and giveaway

Sunday, September 14, 2014
A Backwards Story
Review and giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014
Pinky’s Favorite Reads
Q&A and giveaway

authorjess picJessica Verday is the New York Times best-selling author of The Hollow trilogy. 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. She lives in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, with her husband.  You can visit her online at




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