(Excerpt from book:)
“’As you see on that elegant tombstone over there, Margharet Fullman passed away on April 23, 1724. She was only nineteen when she left this world.’
“The tall figure paused, letting the drama of it take root. ‘Now you’ll remember,’ he pointed this flashlight back down the path ‘one Hadley Williamson, twenty-three years old, who passed away on the very same day as Margharet. There is no documentation as of the circumstances of either’s demise.’
“Satisfied murmurs among his tour group let Edgar Wilde know he had them in the palm of his hand. He loved a captive audience.
“‘Given the date, it could possibly be nothing more than simple, tragic coincidence- yellow fever, perhaps. However, some have claimed that they were actually found by Margharet’s father- a certain Barnes Fullman- the night before their deaths, caught in a very passionate embrace. Mr. Fullman was clearly a very important man in this town, yet to this day his existence is denied. In fact, the name Barnes Fullman isn’t found in any of the official historical documents of this town. Not even a tombstone to remember him by.’”
A precocious 15-year-old, Edgar Wilde knows he’s considered a freak by classmates, but it doesn’t bother him. He’s already earning money by giving cemetery tours, and has a deep love of history and old books. Edgar knows a good mystery when he sees one, and he knows something more exists to the Barnes Fullman legend than anybody in the Historical Society will admit.
A first novel for both author Paul Ramey and his publisher Nine Muse Press, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire rolls them, full speed, into the fiction world. Starting out with fast-paced intrigue, it doesn’t let go of the mystery. Even at the very end, a little intrigue remains.
I bought this book a few days after it became available to the public, and started it a few weeks later. Though details of my life interfered with the nonstop reading I would have loved, I still didn’t lose the story for the interruptions. Narration and setting were succinct enough to plant them in my mind, and characters drew me in. When I took the book up again, I jumped right back into Edgar Wilde’s world.
The characters are well done. Edgar is so believable that I laughed out loud when he shied away from Sarah the Barista’s overt flirtation. He acts like a nerdy 15-year-old boy would act, and Shelby is successfully portrayed as a not-yet-tainted teenage girl. I can easily imagine Cora and Gertrude clucking like old hens over cups of coffee, and I’d love to have both Felicia and Aubry as aunts. Corinthian would be a great friend, up until he put me on a rack.
So what’s the basic rundown of this book?
Rating: PG-13. I sigh whenever I mark a book down because of a scattering of foul language or a short sexual scene. But as I know many of my friends would want to be warned about even a single curse word, I also know they’re part of a large group of readers. Though Edgar Wilde is appropriate in every other way for young teens, a bullying character drops a couple of F-bombs early on in the book. They’re in context; they’re from an antagonist; the character gets chided for uttering them. But they’re there.
Last year, a friend called me up seeking advice on two documentaries the school wanted to show her 6th grader. She had to sign a permission form. One was rated PG, the other PG-13. I had seen both movies on several occasions, so I knew exactly why the one got the PG-13 label… somebody dropped a single F-bomb. Children hear it all the time on the playground, repeat it to their friends, and hide it from their moms. But, as widespread and commonplace as it may be, it still turns many readers away.
Would I recommend this book to my own children, ages 11 and 13? Yes. With warnings about the few cuss words.
Credibility rating: 99%. As a mystery story, some truth has to be stretched. I loved how Mr. Ramey delved into the superstitions and prejudice of colonial New England for his stories. It already lends intrigue, and sets up many stories for the possibilities of mass hysteria among a fearful people. Only one part of this book felt out of place, though. (Spoiler Alert!) At the end, where Corinthian took Shelby to the rack, it felt forced. Edgar followed them down into the chamber, and boom! She was on the rack. That fast. Also, this move seemed out of place for a man who had shown no other hints of sadism during the entire book. That said… it’s the only part I can argue with.
Satisfaction rating: Yes, please. From beginning to end, Edgar Wilde read smoothly and satisfied me. But now I wonder… will we be seeing more of Edgar from Paul Ramey and NMP?
I invite Mr. Ramey to answer that for us, if he has a moment.
If you go through Nine Muse Press’ link, you can download a sample chapter.
And be sure to check out Paul Ramey’s blog.
Next up? Dead Sea Games: Adrift by J. Whitworth Hazzard