Audiobook Review: Nevermore: A novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe by David Niall Wilson

25 06 2013

Nevermore: A Tale of Love, Loss and Edgar Allan Poe by David Niall Wilson

Read by Gigi Shane

Crossroad Press

Length: 6 Hrs and 6 Min

Genre: Gothic Horror

Quick Thoughts: Nevermore is a Gothic horror tail, drenched in mood and atmosphere and effectively creepy. Wilson has created a fascinating mythology that blends history, myth, and folk tales to create a tale that does credit to it’s inspiration. Nevermore is a tale that is worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, yet shines a new light on this character allowing us to see him in a way we never may have expected.

Grade: B+

I think it’s important for a reviewer to admit their deficiencies. So, I will admit, for a fan of horror, from Philadelphia I am surprisingly uninformed when it comes to Edgar Allan Poe. Sure, I have read the Raven. I like the Raven. In fact, I think it’s brilliant. And, I always enjoyed The Tell Tale Heart. It’s a creepy tale that really plays on my claustrophobia and paranoia. Yet, other than that, I know surprisingly little about Poe other than he lived in Baltimore and Philadelphia and may have had a substance abuse problem. I feel like I should really know more about Poe. Here is one of the founders of the genre that has informed much of my life, that is often emulated by some of my favorite authors, yet, I know like two of his stories and a few poems. This winter I watched The Following, and this was when I first started feeling Poe deficient. Now, I thought The Following was OK. Not awesome. A bit too reliant on shocking gore over solid storytelling but, I was fascinated by Poe’s influence on the mythology and wondered if I was missing some aspects to the plot by not being more of a student of Poe. So, of course, I was concerned about starting a book called Nevermore, a book not only inspired by Poe’s writing but features Poe himself as a characters. Yet, my past history should have allowed me to forget my concerns. So much of what I know about historical figures comes from reading fiction. I took plenty of history classes in high school and college, but I think I have always leaned more about the essential aspects of these characters through historical fiction and alternate history. Sure, I know what you are thinking. These are fictional accounts, manipulated by authors for their own agenda which is totally unlike the process of teaching, where teachers and text book authors only present straight forward objective facts. So yeah, I’ll take my historical characters with a touch artistic license.

On the border between North Carolina and Virginia, a young women with a terrible gift encounters a ark storyteller with a companion. Together, they will unlock the secrets that lie at the roots of old tales and ancient legends, changing the past and releasing imprisoned souls to their final disposition. Yet, like with all such tales, their actions come with tragic personal consequences. Nevermore is a Gothic horror tail, drenched in mood and atmosphere and effectively creepy. Wilson has created a fascinating mythology that blends history, myth, and folk tales to create a tale that does credit to it’s inspiration. While the underlining story is worthy in it’s own right, I love how Wilson tells old tales and allows you to filter them through the history of oral traditions and the natural adaptations a story can take.  These old tales inform the story, but the story never becomes dependent on them. Instead, we see how tales told in another time and place can have direct impact on current situations. Wilson  manages to turn many horror tropes on their heads, creating a traditional gothic tale with a bunch little twist that makes it feel different. Lenore is a wonderfully deep character with a very unique gift that I found fascinating. Her ability to draw trapped souls out of their prisons setting them free made for a very interesting backdrop for the tale, ripe with complexities. I also love how both Poe and Lenore weren’t solitary in their story, but developed relationships that both served their goals and added moments of true emotion. Wilson writes with a poetic flair that even when I felt I wasn’t totally engaged in the story, I could feel the beauty of the moments. Each word and phrase seemed to be tailored to creating just the right mood. At times, I felt the entire feel of the story to be oppressive, with the atmosphere too thick and the situation too dark, but the mood was totally appropriate to the tale. Conversely, there were moments I felt like I loved the feel of the story more than the story itself.  In the end, I think Wilson succeeded at what he set out to do. Nevermore is a tale that is worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, yet shines a new light on this character allowing us to see him in a way we never may have expected.

This is my first experience with Gigi Shane, and I hope it’s not my last. While I loved her voice, and the her characters were strong, it was her ability to find the rhythms of the writing and bleed it for all its worth that highlighted the audiobook for me. She captured the feel of the novel so well, that at times I felt totally immersed in it. Wilson’s writing seems really suited for audio. He seems to put a lot of thought into how his books will sound spoken aloud, and it shines through in Shane’s performance. Shane has a voice that can seem light and airy, but manages to effectively drop into the lower registers, making her male voices feel as real as her female. She manages to give even the lighter moments a feeling of gravity, and when things really begin to get dark, she allows us to float above the muck. While I enjoyed Wilson’s tale, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it nearly as much in print. This is a story that should be told, and it seems, just the right narrator to tell it. If you are a fan of old school horror, with a poetic flair, informed by folklore and mystery, Nevermore is the perfect audiobook for you.

Note: I reviewed this title as part of Audiobook Jukebox’s Solid Gold Reviewers program.

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