By J. Lincoln Fenn
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Let me get straight to my two gripes about Poe, mainly because they involve things not between the covers of this excellent novel. First, that book cover. I took me a little while to get to this book (it was a review copy provided by Netgalley) because the cover screams Young Adult. (It is definitely not YA). Also the title is a bit misleading. While the title does tie into the book it led me to think the plot may have something to do with the author who wrote all those delicious short stories. Sorry, no Edgar Allen. Never shows up. Missing in action. Different Poe.
But once I got over those two nitpicking distractions and dug into the 300 plus pages, I found a delightfully original story that spanned a number of genres. There is horror, mystery, supernatural suspense, plus a slight touch of romance. It is also quite humorous. Here's the bare bones of the plot: Bored obituary writer for the local paper in the small town of New Goshen, Dimitri, is given the chance to write a feature about a seance in the local haunted house...on Halloween of course. Naturally, or supernaturally in this case, things goes wrong, and our protagonist nearly dies and come back with a sort of ghostly hitchhiker he calls Poe. Add to that a string of murders and the plot thickens. Then there's that strange but sweet and quirky romance involving a girl who thinks her brother is connected to the murders.
Poe moves as smoothly as a novel ever moved. Each action leads to another logical action. Characters and strange events are introduced at just the right time. Conclusions are made and acted upon in a realistic manner, which is not an easy feat in a fantasy / horror novel . I am in awe of J. Lincoln Fenn's Rubik Cube structuring and the ease of which she pulls it off. But just as important is her smart realistic dialogue and the depiction of a main protagonist, Dimitri, is mentally smart in words and thoughts. I must admit to a bit of irritation with Lisa, the probable love interest. I found her a little insensitive at first but there is a reason for that and it ended up endearing me to both Dimitri and Lisa.
Overall, I was basically bowled over by Poe. It came out of nowhere and surprised me. Well, sort of out of nowhere. It did win Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award for 2013 in the category of science fiction, fantasy and horror. The novel jumps into my own top five of my best novels of 2013 and is nipping at the heels of number one. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes great well-paced fiction.