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!”
Cat Winters is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels Odd & True, The Steep and Thorny Way, The Cure for Dreaming, and In the Shadow of Blackbirds, which collected three starred reviews and was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award for debut YA fiction. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
The Raven's Tale 3.2 out of 5based on
13 days ago
Though I've been a Poe fan for 30 years, I can't say I knew a lot about his life until I visited Baltimore a few years ago and was looking for things to do, and was surprised to find both a library with a collection of his personal letters and photographs (and a lock of hair, though they wouldn't let me see it for whatever reason); the bar he visited before collapsing and ultimately dying; and his actual grave site. (A temporary home of his was also there, in the projects, but it was locked up while I was in the city and I couldn't visit.)
That was all fantastic, but I still didn't get a sense for who the man was in life. This book changed that for me, and I'm grateful for it. The author did a lot of research to try and portray him as accurately as possible. He is broody, moody, and frankly a bit whiny and self-absorbed. Which was kind of perfect!
The story focuses on Poe at ages 17 and 18 only, when he is desperately trying to get away from his foster father, who is killing his muse, to go to college and be independent. But his foster father, John Allan, doesn't even give him enough money to cover his classes, let alone living expenses, and Poe is forced to beg and gamble and only winds up in more debt before going home in disgrace.
That alone would have been interesting to me, as a Poe fan, but the author went a step farther to make Poe's macabre muse a physical being and co-author of the book. The chapters alternate, one told by Poe and then the next by his muse, Lenore, all the way to the end. He wants to write poetry, and has a fascination with horror that Lenore eggs on while John Allan tries to threaten Poe into giving it (and Lenore) up. Throughout the book, Lenore appears as a grim phantasm and either disgusts or enthralls anyone who sees her...much as Poe's work affected people at that time.
What made the book really exceptional for me was that it was written about Poe, but reads as if it could have been written by him, as well.
If I have any complaints, it's that at times, especially in the beginning, the book felt a bit wordy and I would find myself zoning out and having to go back a page to reread. It's rather elevated reading, so to me it's not really YA.
22 days ago
I'm a huge fan of Cat Winters. The Raven's Tale is Cat Winters re-imagining of the life of Edgar Poe. It was poetic, dark, and hard to put down:) Highly recommended.
25 days ago
This was an unusual tale of Edgar Allan Poe’s teenage years. He leaves his home and his horrible foster father, only to be haunted by his muse, Lenore.
The story alternated between Edgar’s and Lenore’s perspectives. Lenore is strange because she is Edgar’s muse from his imagination, yet everyone else can see her. Whatever Edgar does, affects Lenore. For example, when he gets drunk and passes out, she also faints wherever she stands.
This story was tragic because of the way Edgar was treated. His foster father abandoned him at the university, leaving him to get deep in debt. I wanted to root for Edgar, but he made so many bad decisions. I really felt sorry for him. Lenore was pushy and annoying, always barging into Edgar’s life. I also didn’t really understand how she was visible to everyone, yet a figment of his imagination.
This story didn’t really work for me. I couldn’t connect to the characters or the tragic plot.
Thank you ABRAMS Kids for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
4 months ago
I was all in on a Cat Winters book about Edgar Allan Poe. I absolutely loved this idea and it’s breaking my heart to rate this so low.
Edgar was fairly captivating. He was passionate and creative and friendly. Lenore was creepy and it was interesting getting her POV. Their relationship felt toxic, even though it seemed imperative to Edgar’s writing.
Plot wise is where I really struggled. The story dragged and even though I was intrigued, I could have easily set the book down and never finished it. I will say that the writing is reminiscent of Edgar’s writing and I love that Cat was able to imitate that.
Overall, it was an amazing idea and the research behind it really shows the effort. Sadly, it just wasn’t for me.
**Huge thanks to Amulet Books for providing the arc free of charge**
5 months ago
I wanted to love this one so badly as I absolutely adore Poe. However, this just didn't seem developed enough for me. The world building didn't immerse me and I spent most of the novel confused about how his muse could just come to life and everyone was okay with it. I am an absolute lover of magical realism, but this didn't feel right as either magical realism or fantasy.
I didn't get enough personality from the characters, either. Poe seemed to spend all of his time hiding his muse/his poems or pining after his lover. I wasn't moved by the attempt to humanize the adopted father either. The mother was absolutely helpless and her only devotion seemed to be her adopted son. I know that all of these characters were modeled after real people, yet I felt like they were very dull and two-dimensional.
I love the recent resurgence in love for Poe and all of the new books an anthologies we are seeing about him. This one, unfortunately, was a pass for me.
5 months ago
Seventeen year old Edgar Allan Poe and his Pa are at odds. Edgar wants so badly to go to college and dreams of becoming a writer. His Pa thinks he should abandon those ambitions and his muse and work for him. He thinks it so strongly in fact that if Edgar refuses, he threatens to kick him out of the house and leave him penniless.
This is a combination YA fantasy and historical fiction. It covers just a short period of time in Poe’s early life. Edgar is a passionate fellow with a talent for poetry, but I thought it was his muse who stole the story. She’s dark and fiery, and thrives on the macabre. I enjoyed this story, and thought it was well done with just enough drama to move the plot along. I learned a little bit about Poe, and if like me, you’re still curious about EAP, there are some handy notes at the back of the book. The author has included a few of his early poems, some biographical notes, and a list of references if you’re interested in doing further research. 3.5 Stars
Each of the books in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales has elements of the strange but
true and is presented in an engaging, funny format, highlighting the larger-than-life characters that pop up in real history. Big Bad Ironclad! covers the history ...
Agatha DeLacey’s family isn’t rich or titled, so studying nursing at Ingold’s East End hospital
in London is a rare opportunity for her. Despite the school’s focus on the innovative Bio-Mechanical program, Aggie cares more about the desperately poor human ...
All The World's A Stage -- but What If The Play Doesn't Go As Planned?
Four talented girls from vastly different pasts share a dream of stardom: Cinnamon, the edgy actress; Ice, the phenomenal vocalist; Rose, the beautiful dancer; and ...
In this tender board book, a kitten practices the basics of feline behavior over the
course of a day. A single word of text per spread teaches readers “how to be a cat”—how to stretch, clean, pounce, feast—while the striking ...
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire was one of the world's great
powers. Generations of travelers-explorers, traders, tourists, scientists, artists-were drawn to these magical lands. Whether depictions of contemporary life in the bustling street, the court, the ...
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in
gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an ...
The stage is set for a fiendishly dramatic summer at theater camp for Cynthia and
her boyfriend, Ryan. With no demons at all. Right?Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend, as well as the entire student body, from the ...
The Twilight Saga has sold 160 million copies worldwide. Satisfy your *thirst* for more books
with this novella, a companion to Eclipse.Bree Tanner, a self-described vampire nerd first introduced in Eclipse, lives in terror in a coven of newborn vampires. ...