Laurie D. Borman — Booklist

The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart—these scary pieces by Edgar Allan Poe stirred the emotions of the literary ladies of his time. But in 1845, Poe stirred up gossip, too, with his attention to Frances Sargent Osgood, a poet deserted by her philandering husband. Poe’s deathly ill, 23-year-old wife (his first cousin, whom he married when she was 13) seems to be suspicious. Taking advantage of letters and published poems, imaginative historical novelist Cullen (Reign of Madness, 2011) cleverly spins a mysterious, dark tale told by Mrs. Osgood about the long-ago intrigue, with just enough facts to make it believable. Celebrities like Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, and John Jacob Astor make cameo appearances. Others-the creator of graham crackers, the author of Bartlett’s Quotations, Horace Greeley-also step in for a fun romp through history. As the story unfolds, we’re left to wonder if Mrs. Poe is Edgar’s Mr. Hyde, or is Poe himself the villain? It’s enough to make the teacups rattle.

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