I’m not sure why I have this novel apart from the Poe reference. It’s not on my list of titles I got review copies of nor do I remember buying it.
Still, last October, in honor of the month of Edgar Poe’s death, I read it.
Review: Finding Poe: A Tale of Inspiration and Horror, Leigh M. Lane, 2012.
The blurbs call this a gothic. And, indeed, it is. We have a woman in danger, our protagonist Karina Brantley, and we have a sinister structure, a lighthouse.
But that’s just the start. Karina Brantley isn’t some innocent governess nor unmarried. Her increasingly mad husband, always called by just his surname, was a nobleman back in England and she was a Lady – that is until Brantley murdered a servant trying to blackmail him and walled him up alive. Karina is complicit in that crime.
Brantley takes them to a miserable lighthouse off the coast of New England and seems obsessed by it, taking its measurements and counting the number of its bricks. He becomes increasingly abusive.
There is a hallucinatory, nightmare quality to this novel . . . because it’s full of Karina’s nightmares. The novel opens on a train with Karina waking up from a dream, and she does not confide in Brantley about them, and it will be hard to tell, in these nested dreams, what is happening at times, but Lane keeps the story interesting with those section and isn’t merely obfuscating her story.
In one such dream, which has her going on an excursion to shore, we meet with situations and characters alluding to various Poe stories, and part of the novel’s fun is picking up on these distorted allusions.
One night, after being sent by her husband to get supplies on shore, she encounters treasure hunters and learns her home is considered hunted.
And when Brantley tries to kill her, and later, kills himself, Karina finds herself delivering a sealed letter of her husband to one Mr. Poe in Baltimore.
And so begins the rest of the novel with insane asylums, truly creepy passengers on a train, and an eventual encounter with Poe whose life is threatened by a conspiracy.
I’ve linked to the “special edition” of the novel which, glancing at it on Amazon, seems to merely link the Poe allusions to the source stories, but true Poe fans won’t need those hyperlinks, just like they know the opening set up of the lighthouse is itself an allusion to a story fragment left by Poe at his death, “The Lighthouse”.
Lane has said the novel is a sort of detective story, a puzzle with a solution. The ending is unexpected, but I think I understand Lane’s solution which is yet another allusion to a Poe work. There is an internal logic in the book. If you like dreamy narratives of menace and confusion or just the works of Poe, you will probably find this novel of interest.