Andrea Brooks, ­Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib

Cullen’s (The Creation of Eve; Reign of Madness) latest novel is a fictitious, yet historically based tale of a dark and delicious romance doomed from its start. Edgar Allan Poe, his wife, and his lover come to life among a cast of eccentric and notable figures from the mid-1800s American literary scene. Dark and brooding, Poe is a rising star in New York after the publication of his poem “The Raven.” He forms a connection with struggling writer Frances Osgood, and they fall into an illicit love affair. Their love is passionate and true, but a cloud hangs over the couple as they dodge not only gossip but also the moral implications of their actions. Meanwhile, Mrs. Poe, a seemingly sweet young woman dying from consumption, is possibly masking a vengeance more dangerous than anyone can fathom. VERDICT Cullen has crafted a beautifully heartbreaking story filled with emotional twists and turns. Yes, it’s dark, but so was Poe, and readers can expect a page-turning tale exposing the transgressions, antics, and heroics behind a literary icon. Literary fiction fans and readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.

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