Member Reviews

A Mystery of Mysteries (The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe) by Mark Dawidziak is a very fascinating a well detailed nonfiction read.
I remember learning and reading about EAP in high school. I remember being so fascinated by his life and work.
Mark Dawidziak has delivered a well written and interesting story, he provides a thorough understanding of Poe's life and legacy.
It's intelligent, informative and riveting.
Sad, but I haven't read anything about or from Poe in years.
It was a nice escape from my usual reads.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

St. Martin's Press,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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"I am dying, yet I shall live."

4 stars

A well researched compilation (with almost as many cites as pages) going back and forth from looking at Poe's life, and then three months before his death. The duel point of view as it was certainly wasn't my prefered way of telling the story. While I found the research interesting, it at times read very academic, which I think could turn some readers off. Some of the references seemed more valuable than others (I had to put it down a few times when ANOTHER Stephen King quote was added), but I really enjoyed the parts that focused on Poe's work. I also liked the focus changing people's previous assumptions about him, and trying to sort fact from fiction from fact. I reread a few of Poe's short stories referenced and used in the text, and found this book to really increase my enjoyent of the work. I would recommend this to any big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, but if you only have a vague interest in his work maybe give this one a pass.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Perfect for this spooky season, a well researched and very thorough autobiography of Edgar Allan Poe (EAP). Dawidziak delivers an engaging, colorful and nuanced picture of a great American author. A dual timeline narrative is utilized to move between very detailed examination of Poe's last months including the factors that could have contributed to his death and an overview of his life up to that point. I found this approach slightly distracting; it was harder to keep track of people, places and events switching back and forth.

Overall I found "Mystery of Mysteries" an illuminating and enriching journey through EAP's life and works. I've enjoyed reading EAP's stories and poems, I feel this will enrich their rereading. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.

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The book was very well-written and interesting. The narrative structure was a bit confusing, but not problematic. I plan to incorporate some of this into my lessons on Poe.

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A Mystery of Mysteries is a biography of Edgar Allan Poe that examines his mysterious death. The narrative goes back and forth between his last months and his earlier life. It's a very compelling read and I would highly recommend to anyone who's interested by Poe. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC.

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I enjoyed the history lesson, but the story seemed to go in circles at times. The material was intriguing and interesting but it seemed to drag on a bit for me.

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I became a Poe fan in high school, like many others. I’ve remained a fan into my adult years and have several anthologies of his works. I’ve read a few biographies, but this one seemed to hit differently, somehow. I like that there was a focus on his final days and how he died. I think that this will really appeal to other Poe enthusiasts.

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Excellent bio - concentrating on the author’s last days. He was a genius but why how did he die? The author examines his work and life - making one compelling read!

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Another biography of Edgar Allen Poe? There are so many out there, but this one seems to be different. Author Mark Dawidziak makes a valiant effort to sort out the misinformation about this classic writer and tracks Poe throughout his life wherever evidence is left enough for a reasonably clear depiction of how he lived and what influenced his brilliance along the way. He talks of how Poe began to write poetry, why he began to write short stories, and who were the real influencers in his short life. Edgar Allen Poe is much more than the wretched drunkard that history often portrays. Much more.

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The synopsis for this is fascinating and the cover is compelling - both decided me on reading this.

Unfortunately, the writing style here didn’t work for me - I found it lackluster. I recognize the research and obvious attention to detail, but the writing really did affect my enjoyment.

This is my own personal taste, so don’t take that into consideration if you’re looking for a Poe biography, you’re not going to find anything new here, so if you have a lot of books about Poe, I’d grab this one from the library if you’re still keen to read.

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This was below average in its ability to hold my interest. There wasn’t a lot of new or revealing info, so much of it was repetitive. The last chapter took forever to keep reiterating that we don’t know how he died, but it sure could have been tuberculosis. I can’t really say I’d recommend this over any other poe bio out there, but it was acceptable. As October is upon us, there’s really nothing that’s going to make this stand out from all the other poe- related books that are regularly featured every fall.

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4.5 rounded up
Doesn't solve the mystery of his death but filled with very detailed information about his life and death. Good read. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

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Like many, I'm obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe and his horror and detective stories. But also like many, I didn't have a clear picture of the man, his life and the incredible diversity of his work. This is a highly readable, fascinating history of a Poe whose mysterious death often overshadows his troubled life. He's become this strange, unreal figure who seems to represent horror and the macabre as much as fictional characters like Dracula or Dr. Jekyll. But this book reveals the complicated, brilliant and struggling artist behind the dark myth. There's so much we'll never know for sure about Poe, but this book does a truly amazing job of fleshing him out and giving us deep glimpses into the gifted man he was.

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Anyone that sinks deep into the life of Edgar Allan Poe must have a few drinks on hand to keep up with someone that was unquestionably brilliant yet lived on the edge with one foot in the afterlife. The amount of research that was done to prepare for this book was remarkable. I could just picture a room where there’s no sight of a desk -- just piles of notes from interviews, books, flyers and the works.

It's a must-read for those that enjoy history and everything there is to learn about Poe’s life to the degree where the reader may feel like they could shake hands with this man. He was said to have a great sense of humor yet was lost in life. The author keeps tabs on the death card with Poe. Death was a “constant companion throughout Poe’s life.”

The book reveals that his death on October 7, 1849 had a line-up of possible causes: hypoglycemia, diabetes, alcoholism, encephalitis, heart disease, drug overdose, influenza and epilepsy. However, it was said that most likely he died from tuberculosis. Poe's parents, foster mother, brother and wife all died from tuberculosis along with many others from this time. No one has discovered exactly what happened – it's still a mystery! “The problem with the mystery of Poe’s death is that the evidence is so sketchy and undependable, it can be twisted so almost any answer makes some kind of sense.” Sort of like politics.

After all these years, Poe is now a legendary character found in books, art, films, cartoons, album covers and lots of merchandise including flip flops. You may wonder why so many are drawn to this person over other authors from this time. The book may give you some clues and it’s certainly full of interesting historical facts with quotes from many of Poe’s scholars. It was said that horror writers like Poe are almost always funny people. Stephen King said, “We process our fears. We put them down on paper and give them to you. It’s your problem now.”

I was amazed how much detail has been saved from those that have reported about Poe’s life. It includes pieces regarding Poe’s marriage and women he pursued afterwards. There is much about his views with religion, politics and love. Some scholars said Poe was living ahead of his time. The book is relatively short but it takes a while to digest with so many things to think about.

My thanks to Mark Dawidziak, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advance copy with the expected release date of February 14, 2023.

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For the first time, a fully fleshed-out Edgar Poe. Enjoyable, informative, and fresh! From the one-dimensional, morose person written about so often to a man among men with all of the trials and missteps that befall a creative genius.

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Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances at just 40 years old. He was traveling between cities and was found delirious, disheveled, and alone in Baltimore. He was taken to a hospital and he died a few days later. There were no obvious injuries. He was traveling alone so there were no witnesses as to what led him to be discovered in that condition. To add insult to injury the doctor that cared for Mr. Poe gave several wildly different accounts as to his final days and hours. There is endless speculation and almost no evidence as to what happened. Although, there’s a pretty solid conjecture by this author.

The book jumps back and forth between his final days and his early life. It details his upbringing, education, marriage, and career. Mr. Poe was a prolific writer and penned so much more than the horror he is known for now. This is a fascinating story of genius, hubris, and a great deal of bad luck.

Clearly I was familiar with Mr. Poe and some of his work. I had no idea he was considered to be so forward thinking, a master, and a genius. His personal life is interesting and his legacy is quite impressive. I’ve found myself reading over some of the classics that I haven’t touched since high school. It’s definitely putting me in the mood for spooky season!

Thanks to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for an advanced copy of this book. It will be out 2/14/23. This is a perfect Anti-Valentine’s read!!

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To paraphrase the author, before reading this, Poe meant Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Roger Corman, API (& Peter Lorre) to me.

I'm not a poetry fan. That said, the book wasn't bad. It carefully toes the line between dry Academics & more "average" people. I was able to finish it. If it had more of an academic feel, I would not have done so.

As I'm only a fan of the films, if I was rating it just for myself, I would go 3 stars; but I think Poe & Poetry fans will enjoy this book. A lot of research obviously went into it; especially about how he died (The author's best GUESS is TB, but he really emphasizes that is a guess.). His young wife (14 year old cousin) sounds amazing, but she sadly did at the age of 24.

The book is partially chronological, but returns to the theme of his death in almost every chapter.

I left feeling I knew him a little bit; but my interest will continue to be the films (I'm a huge Lugosi & Karloff fan).

I received this book as a free reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This was very interesting, with Poe how could it not be, but enjoyed the writing style and pacing. I learned a lot I didn’t know about Poe and his times.

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Thank you very much for this ARC. This is the best account I’ve read of the life, and especially death of Edgar Allan Poe. His death remains a mystery, but this is a fascinating read.

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A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak is an excellent biography delving into the misconceptions and mysteries shrouding one of the most famous literary writers in modern history.

This is such an excellent book. I absolutely loved learning so much about the infamous Edgar Allan Poe. While he is beyond recognizable still to this day, there are so many myths, rumors, and legends that surround him. So many of those are untrue…some are embellishments…some actually are truth. The author does an amazing job laying it all out for us in an easy to read format, tone, and pace. He alternates between the overall biography from birth to the chapters in between covering the last few months of his life to help address some of the questions surrounding his death.

I was entertained, informed, and delighted.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and St Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 2/14/23.

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