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I Belong

Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and MadnessTitleOf Monsters and Madness

AuthorJessica Verday

Genre: YA Horror

Series: Of Monsters and Madness (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 9, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 1606844636 (EgmontUSA)

ISBN-13: 978-1606844632 (EgmontUSA)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to live with her father in 1820’s Philadelphia shortly after her mother’s death, but an unconventional upbringing makes her repugnant to her angry, secretive father.

Annabel becomes infatuated with her father’s assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he’s not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she’s not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn’t exist.

A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father’s strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person – and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan’s stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.

Quick & Dirty: This novel follows Annabel Lee (the one from the famous poem by Edgar Allen Poe!) and her horrifying discoveries when she moves to Philadelphia.

Opening Sentence: My breath is quick.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Annabel Lee has always lived a rather simple life. She and her mother used to spend her days in a Siam village, working to earn their keep and staying close together. When her mother dies, however, she is summoned to Philadelphia to live with her father at his grand estate. But strange happenings are going on, and they only escalate when Annabel meets two young men that look remarkably similar, Edgar and Allan. One is poetic and sweet, the other is terrifying and dark. They are helping her father with illegal experiments, and as a string of murders begin to happen, Annabel starts to question if they could be more involved then they are letting on.

I went into this novel with mixed feelings. For one thing, I’ve heard a lot of reviews that weren’t so complimentary. Goodreads wasn’t kind to this story. However, I’ve always been intriguied by Edgar Allen Poe, an enigma and author whose creepy, gritty works have survived the test of time. And, after all, the main character was called Annabel Lee, from that famous poem that I studied two years ago in English. (Though it never really is tied in to Poe’s works – yet. This is one of a series, so there is still time for that to be incorporated.) I went into the novel with an open mind, hoping to find a book that I enjoyed more than others who have spoken about it.

Let’s start with the writing style. Here’s the thing – I had very mixed feelings about it. One could say that it did resemble the time period in its wording; I think that the phrasing and flow sounded alike to the setting we were reading about. But at times, the word choice and diction sounded almost juvenile, or very simple, not like a young adult novel but perhaps hovering at the edge of middle grade. It did a lot of telling instead of showing, especially for the feelings of our main character, and even descriptions were sadly free of too much vivid imagery.

The characters were somewhat bland, in my opinion. Our main character fit into a very cookie cutter mold and was, in my opinion, too sensitive. For example: when her father wasn’t treating her kindly, she thought only “woe is me! What a shame! What is wrong with me?” instead of any realistic anger or other feelings that should’ve gone hand in hand. She didn’t develop too much over the course of the story either. Even Edgar Allen Poe could have been more mysterious. The Dr. Jekyll/Dr.Hyde situation going on added an element of intrigue to the story, but it was still lacking a heavy, dark tone that I’d expected.

Altogether? This story was lacking in elements that I wish that it would have had. The characters were bland, the writing style felt very simple, and the romance was altogether uninteresting. There was a lot of potential for this setting and idea, but I felt it didn’t reach it. It was also a super predictable plotline the way it was executed. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this story to a degree, and it was a refreshing change from the contemporary binge I’ve been on recently. The first book set up a few questions that have yet to be answered, so I hope that the sequel ramps it up a few notches.

Notable Scene:

I strain my eyes in the darkness to see. All I can make out is a large structure of pale stones, tall doors, and rows of windows gleaming like sharp teeth against the nigh. It looks nothing like the bamboo houses built high of stilts I have spent the last ten years of my life in. A sense of unease fills my stomach as I stare up at what is to be my new home.

Dark and foreboding, it appears to be just as unwelcome as the rest of Philadelphia.

Of Monsters and Madness Series:

1. Of Monsters and Madness

2. Of Phantoms and Fury


FTC Advisory: EgmontUSA provided me with a copy of Of Monsters and Madness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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