Review: A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak

Book Review

A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak
Nonfiction, Historical, Mystery

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A Mystery of Mysteries is a brilliant biography of Edgar Allan Poe that examines the renowned author’s life through the prism of his mysterious death and its many possible causes.

It is a moment shrouded in horror and mystery. Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849, at just forty, in a painful, utterly bizarre manner that would not have been out of place in one of his own tales of terror. What was the cause of his untimely death, and what happened to him during the three missing days before he was found, delirious and “in great distress” on the streets of Baltimore, wearing ill-fitting clothes that were not his own?

Mystery and horror. Poe, who remains one of the most iconic of American writers, died under haunting circumstances that reflect the two literary genres he took to new heights. Over the years, there has been a staggering amount of speculation about the cause of death, from rabies and syphilis to suicide, alcoholism, and even murder. But many of these theories are formed on the basis of the caricature we have come to associate with Poe: the gloomy-eyed grandfather of Goth, hunched over a writing desk with a raven perched on one shoulder, drunkenly scribbling his chilling masterpieces. By debunking the myths of how he lived, we come closer to understanding the real Poe—and uncovering the truth behind his mysterious death, as a new theory emerges that could prove the cause of Poe’s death was haunting him all his life.

In a compelling dual-timeline narrative alternating between Poe’s increasingly desperate last months and his brief but impactful life, Mark Dawidziak sheds new light on the enigmatic master of macabre. 

What I thought

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

When I saw that this book was coming out, I just had to request it.  I have been interested in Poe and his works since I was in high school.  I have read/watched a some takes on Poe’s life, and I have to say this one seems to me the most interesting and most researched one that I have seen yet.  The author talks about having to dig deeper than just the new paper columns after his death to see the real Poe.  Most of what we think of as fact is just what rival columnists wrote after his passing, which is a shame. Yes, Poe had issues, however he is not the depressed morbid picture we are painted by most media today.  

As much as I enjoyed this take on Poe, I only had one thing that threw me off, and that was how the chapters jumped back and forth between different times in his life.  I know that is done for a reason, but it was hard sometimes to switch gears back and forth. 

If you have ever wanted to know more about Poe, this is the book to pick up!

My Rating: /5

Have you read this book? If so what did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

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