On the night of 3rd October 1849, the poet and author Edgar Allen Poe was found, raving and in clothes not his own, outside a tavern in Baltimore’s seventh ward. He had been missing from the world for five days. In 19th Century America, two magical orders are at war. Doctor Carter leads the fight against the Dux de Obscurum, the Commanders of Darkness, who seek to snare demons in their sinister plot to seek dominion over the earth. In an effort to uncover the truth behind their friend’s mysterious disappearance Doctor Snodgrass and Captain Walker find themselves unexpectedly embroiled in the fight. Confronting witches and demons, Furies and sinister henchmen, the two friends meet unforeseen foes and fortuitous allies. Pursued relentlessly by the sinister and powerful cabal, not everybody is who they seem to be, and they try desperately to survive a world that imperils them both, a world that transcends nature. Will they be able to return to Baltimore with the truth, and in time, to save the soul of their friend?
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10
Plot: This tale of dark forces and the unlikely assemblage that stands against it is powered by an earnestly compelling mystery wrapped around an inventive, twisting reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's life that will be sure to captivate genre-lovers and admirers of Poe's work alike.
Prose/Style: Wareing's words flow from the page with a poetic grandeur and a grace that should enthrall most readers and immediately ensconce them in the time period. However, the occasional awkward dialogue arises to trip up the otherwise smooth procession of prose.
Originality: Wareing's novel gleans its ingenuity not so much from its macabre collection of denizens and do-gooders, but rather from its unique retelling of the life of one of the world's most famous—and famously harrowed—writers.
Character Development/Execution: Brought to life by Wareing's vivid prose, the cast of A Surcease of Sorrow enjoy a magnetism that endears them to the reader even before backstories are rolled out.
Date Submitted: June 06, 2021