Have you ever thought of reading a book based on young Edgar Allan Poe? What would have been his life like? How did he come about to write poetry? Cat Winters imagines what Poe’s life was like in The Raven’s Tale.
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 writes a fictional account of Poe’s life in The Raven’s Tale. When I first came across the book, I thought it was going to be a historical romance story but it wasn’t. Because there’s a Muse, then there’s Edgar, so I was hoping to find some kind of a romance story in there. But the book was so surprisingly different!
In The Raven’s Tale, we find seventeen year old Edgar Poe at an extremely helpless and vulnerable period in his life. He eagerly awaits for the the day when he can finally move out of his foster family. Restless with a head full of creative ideas, Edgar seeks to express himself but doesn’t quite understand how to do it until he meets his muse, Lenore.
It has been known that artists are often inspired by their Muses. But in Edgar’s world, Muses are scary. They drag the Artists down towards a path of shame and dishonour which discredits their works. Edgar is constantly torn between creating his beautiful poetry with the help of his muse and following his foster father’s footsteps in settling into the family business. Living in a place where Muses are disapproved to the point where they are ordered to be banished, Edgar finds it difficult to get rid of Lenore.
What can I say about Lenore? She was so real, yet not. Reading about Poe in The Raven’s Tale, I am reminded of the time when John Milton summons Goddess Melancholy in Il Penseroso. Young Edgar brings Lenore to life through his writing and ever since then, Lenore follows her poet around in the night streets, through the windy days, in Poe’s melancholy and his anger. Lenore is omnipresent in Poe’s life. She helps him to identify his commitment to poetry. Lenore is such a dynamic character. She is so vibrant and full of life. I couldn’t help but empathise with Edgar. This boy have been through so much but he never gives up on his poetry.
Cat Winters has such a captivating writing style that I finished this book in a day. The dual narrative though sometimes repetitive, allows both Poe and Lenore to describe the events according to their point of views. I loved how the narrative holds a nightmarish chilling quality to it. At first I thought it would read like a Fantasy novel but The Raven’s Tale has more of a historical setting with gothic elements to it. I have read about Spencer’s personification of river Thames in Prothalamion, Milton’s personification of Goddess Melancholy, the death personification in Triumph of Life and many such poems. But in The Raven’s Tale, Poe’s muse is personified throughout the book which was interesting to read.
I don’t have much left to say about this book other than the fact that I loved it! While I am not so familiar with Poe’s works, reading Winters’s The Raven’s Tale have interested me in learning more about Poe and his poetry. I can’t recommend this book enough. Just go and add it to your TBR piles! That’s all I am going to say.