Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
After the death of her mother, seventeen year old Annabelle Lee is called to Philadelphia by the father she has never met. Knowing her father is a scientist and surgeon, Annabelle hopes this is the opportunity to pursue her dream of practicing medicine. But it is 1826 and young women do not perform surgery and young Annabelle is far from the daughter her father envisioned.
The young girl lacks the manners and etiquette expected of a young woman and she soon finds that her father and his reputation is not what it seems either. There are mysterious comings and goings to the lower floors of the house and the rumors of a killer on the loose in the streets.
“…A sense of unease fills my stomach as I stare up at what is to be my new home. Dark and foreboding, it appears just as unwelcoming as the rest of Philadelphia…”
“…Blood is everywhere. Splashed on the walls and spilled across the floor. The scent, heavy upon the air, is like a fog that rises early in the morning. Loops of glistening flesh are strung out upon the table, and in the middle of it all is a single lock of hair. Dark. Curled. Obscene in its loveliness amongst such carnage…”
Of Monsters and Madness is an ambitious novel. It dares to cross genres and pull into its plot people and settings that hold a strong place in the heart of many horror readers. Jessica Verday has pieced together bits of Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, and the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. This is heightened by the young assistants to Annabelle’s father, the cousins Allan and Edgar Poe. Done poorly and the book is sure to slammed by angry readers. Some might slam it anyway based on general principle and false offense. The fact is that Verday has written an entertaining and fast paced novel and has used the setting and time to her advantage. Rather than see it as an offense to these great novels, I feel she has paid respect and due these tales and uses them to enhance her own tale of murder, madness and a haunted home.
Annabelle is a strong character, far from the only home she has known and alone after the loss of her mother. She must find her way not only through the unfriendly streets of the city but through the hypocritical and pretentious elite of the time. Knowing that her knowledge and wits would not be appreciated in the form of a young girl by anyone. Least of all the father she so wants to be loved by. Edgar and Allan Poe are a creative addition to the story. Cousins who are two sides of the same coin. But most of all, the dark home, with its locked rooms and basement. The setting fits the tempo and atmosphere of this novel.
A very good read!!