Poe: Nevermore, by Rachel M. Martens, is a contemporary suspense thriller with a nod to paranormal elements of the Romanticism Movement. This dark and dense novel that borders on horror is told in the first person by a young woman, Elenora Allison Poe, known simply as ‘Poe.’
The story begins innocently enough; it seems that the characters and the plot are driven by mental illness (even Poe) until the impetus is revealed. That is the hook of Martens’ writing—just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the game changes. The plot twists and turns as it sinks its hook deeper into you. At first, as I read, I thought that this novel might be another variation of Fight Club or the Dragon Tattoo series. It is not.
For some, it may be too haunting a tale. The author skillfully builds tension and anticipation with complex characters that are not easily dismissed. The antagonists are evil incarnate. The scary part is that they could be someone you speak with every day, the next date that you are on, the person you work with….
The beginning of the story manifests Poe’s awkwardness of Poe in trying to make her way in the world alone, as many young adults do. The ordeals Poe has survived so far in her young life have reduced her to perilously low levels of self-worth and confidence. You think to yourself that Poe needs to get a grip on herself, to stop feeling sorry for herself. But soon enough the reasons for her self-defeatist attitude are divulged and you will wonder how she functions at all and why, … indeed, why she is still alive.
Poe learns that her family has been accursed since Edgar Allan Poe’s foster father had a witch invoke it. The curse destroys the victim psychologically and emotionally. It will destroy everything and everyone to torture its victim, to make the victim’s life a living hell.
Poe must unravel the details of the family curse in order to save the few loved ones she has left in this world. She pursues this with the help of a budding relationship with Frost, a homicide detective who sees something worth saving in her, and shares her interest in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Poe himself aids her pursuit, explaining the curse, and presenting himself as her spirit guide.
The 19th century Romantic Movement, a revolt against societal norms in art, was represented by deep emotional response to experience, including emphasis on terror, horror, and the supernatural. Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, known for their mystery, their macabre methods of death, and his delving into the human psyche, were part of this movement. The parallels between our heroine’s life and that of Edgar Allan Poe are brilliantly developed by the genre and style in which Poe: Nevermore has been written.
Be warned; Poe: Nevermore is not a cozy mystery. Ms. Martens succeeds at painting dark, suspenseful, sometimes horrific pictures. It is the type of psychological horror that locking the doors and windows and reading with the lights on will not keep out.
I highly recommend this book for my fellow edge-of-our-seat junkies—those of us who are constantly seeking the book we ever so briefly fear picking up, then can’t put down in the relentless pursuit of discovering whatever comes next! Martens’ Poe: Nevermore deliciously feeds these cravings along with satisfying those with classical literary interests. I anxiously look forward to reading Marten’s next installment of Poe.