On one of my last library trips, I happened to glance at a display rack, catching a glimpse of some blurb how this book is something Neil Gaimen fans would be immediately taken. Given said blurb was via Publisher's Weekly, I took it with a grain of salt, but I did enjoy reading J. Lincoln Fenn's Poe anyway.
We start off meeting our narrator, Dimitri Petrov, who narrates the book in First Person Present Tense. (Which, as mentioned previously, takes a bit of adjustment.) Dimitri lives and works in the small New York town of New Goshen, writing obituaries for the local paper.Given the average age in New Goshen is well over 60, he keeps quite busy with this. He has a casual flirtation with Lisa, who works at a receptionist at the local nursing home; Lisa is also a source of information that rarely makes it in to the obituary.
Dimitri's boss, Mac, decides that Halloween night would be a perfect excuse to send Dimitri (and Mac's son, Nate, who does editing work) to a seance at the local run down haunted mansion, Aspinwell. The medium is their coworker Myrna's sister, Maddy. Aspinwell has quite a history, involving murder and fire, and all the gothic conventions. Lisa, who has never met Dimitri, crashes the party for reasons that don't become clear until the midway point.
Given the book wouldn't have much of a plot without a narrative hook, Myrna succeeds quite well in channeling a spirit for the seance. It in fact causes some violence within the medium, who crashes through the rotted floor of the mansion. Mac goes to get help as Lisa and Dimitri head to the basement to rescue Myrna. Well, they try, anyway. Dimitri finds out the hard way there's a well in the basement when he falls into watery darkness.
Cut to a few days later when he wakes up in the morgue. Now thankfully, due to being misdiagnosed, the hospital takes rather good care of him as he recovers, if only to avoid a lawsuit. Mind you, Dimitri is still semi remembering a woman he saw in the well, whom he nicknames Poe. Poe continues to haunt Dimitri after he's released and begins to sort of date Lisa. Poe starts off doing poltergeisty activity (broken windows with the glass making patterns), but eventually settles into using Dimitri's mother's poetry refrigerator magnets to pass on some basic information. Well, at least until the dreams/hallucinations start.
We also learn a bit of Lisa's backstory. Like her paranoid schizophrenic brother who tried to kill her.
Eventually, all the plot threads connect, wrapping up exactly who Dimitri's parents were, what's so important about his ring, what's really going on with Lisa's brother, and why the heck Rasputin (yes, Rasputin) had two magical grimoires.
It's a bit uneven at times, and things seem to be last minute additions toward the end, but for the most part, it remians interesting and fun to read. It even gets bonus points for Dimitri;s relationship with his guardian, which reminded me of several conversations I've had in a similar vein.
Also, it has about as much in common with Gaiman as a horse has with a crab.