I've posted my assessment of Lenore Hart's new Virginia Poe novel, "The Raven's Bride" elsewhere, so I won't repeat myself here. Suffice to say:
I like it.
You never thought you'd see me say that about anything, eh? It's hardly perfect, but (especially by the generally gruesome standards of Poe-related fiction) it's not terrible, either. (Although I must say that I found myself quite fascinated by the fact that Ms. Hart must be--how can I best put it?--a great admirer of Cothburn O'Neal's earlier novel "The Very Young Mrs. Poe." Seriously, I wish someone would read both books back-to-back and tell me if I'm wrong.)
That aside, with James Spada's recent "Days When My Heart Was Volcanic," this means that two good Poe biographical novels have been published within the past year. By my count, that's precisely two more than have appeared this entire past century. And, interestingly, in both cases, Virginia--very atypically for Poe literature--is the heroine.I find this little short of miraculous.
If in 2011, someone writes a rational Poe biography, all of you may as well call an undertaker, because that could only mean that I've died and gone straight to Heaven.
(Obligatory note: I bought both these books on my own. No freebies. That does not mean, of course, that I'm not open to bribes, but, alas, who finds my opinions worth purchasing?)
An update: Since I wrote the above, I've dug out my copy of O'Neal's novel--which I hadn't read in some time, as it really isn't very good--and did a close side-by-side analysis with "Raven's Bride." I really wish anyone with an interest in either novel would do the same. I had thought Hart's novel was very reminiscent of this earlier work, but directly comparing the two is pretty amazing. I can honestly say that I've never seen two novels this similar.We may have to start a new Longfellow War here, folks.