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2013 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
It’s Halloween, and life is grim for 23-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.
But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.
There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.
As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.
J. Lincoln Fenn began her horror career in the 7th grade when she entertained her friends at a sleepover by telling them the mysterious clanking noise (created by the baseboard heater) was in fact the ghost of a woman who had once lived in the farmhouse, forced to cannibalize her ten children during a particularly bad winter. Strangely, it was the last slumber party she was allowed to have. The author graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire, and lives in Hawaii with her family.
Publisher Weekly says of the book:
A delightful, bravura piece of gothic pop, this story begins with the first of many small ironies: our hero, Dimitri Petrov, “errant obituary writer and college dropout,” awakens in the morgue late at night to file his latest piece. In a voice equal parts larky erudition and off-the-cuff Buffy-brand parlance, we learn how Dimitri wound up on the slab. He ran afoul of an errant spirit, the titular Poe, on the night his paper asked him to cover a haunted house on Halloween alongside his editor’s jock son, a psychic hairdresser, and the beautiful, mysterious Lisa. Now Dimitri is enmeshed in a puzzle that emerges in dreams sent to him by Poe, a mystery that somehow concerns Lisa’s heavy metal ex-boyfriend Daniel, the numbered “code” that obsessed him, and Dimitri’s own deceased parents. Torn between his concern for the living and professional responsibility to the dead, Dimtri must find the common link between a string of killings and Dimtri Rasputin, the “mad monk” and subject of his aborted novel. Every horror motif is in attendance, from grainy photographs and grimoires to resurrected father figures and romances that live beyond the grave. But what makes Poe a pleasure instead of a slog is the good humor with which it connects its labyrinthine plot. Fans of Neil Gaiman and the aforementioned Buffy will be immediately taken, but there’s a literate edge to the pyrotechnics that makes for an unlikely and welcome marriage between the spook story and literature of altogether less ectoplasmic substance.
For additional information on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, here is the official press release: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1822943&highlight.
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