#BookReview: The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters

YA Historical

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Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

Why am I only now reading Cat Winters? Where have I been the last five years? Under a rock maybe? I’m not sure, but I'm incredibly pleased to have discovered her with The Raven’s Tale.

I can’t remember the last time the quality of a novel’s prose stopped me dead in my tracks, but the poetically macabre tones of this story were brilliantly drawn. I’ve no idea if this is a hallmark of Winters’ work, but this book alone lands her a spot on my short list of most talented writers. It was simply that good.

Historically speaking, the novel pairs nicely with both Cothburn O’Neal’s The Very Young Mrs. Poe and Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe. Like these titles, the novel follows the course of one of Poe’s relationships, but The Raven’s Tale is a much different tale in that it blends Poe biographical history with the development of the hauntingly dark qualities of his imagination.

Having said all this, I have to admit falling head over heels for Lenore. I’m a history buff and assumed I’d favor the facts, but Winters’ unsettling muse grew on me and by the end of the novel thoroughly upstaged the rest of the cast. Lenore is a deliciously chilling apparition, but I came to adore the allegorical nature of her role both in the novel and in the larger world of publishing.

An absolute must read!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Edelweiss
Read: December 19, 2018

Like the father who sired me, the two-bit actor David Poe, I'll turn to drink to survive the pain of watching my life descend into squalor. I'll abandon my darling to the clutches of death while offering my entire soul to my muse - while drowning myself in whickey and wine until I die.