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  • Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Karen Coats
Gustafson, Scott. Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe; written and illus. by Scott Gustafson. Simon, 2011. 201p. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4169-9764-1 $15.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4169-9766-5 $9.99 Ad Gr. 3–6.

After a brief introduction to the adult Poe, this adventure whisks readers through Poe’s early life with his actor parents, claiming that his drunken father literally passed one of his demons—an imp named McCobber that no one else can see—onto young Eddie. Upon his mother’s death, Eddie is adopted by the Allans, but it is McCobber who proves the greatest influence on the boy’s life and imagination, inflecting every experience with a macabre and paranoid twist that is only slightly tempered by the perspective of Eddie’s other companion, a raven. When Eddie is blamed for a prank that’s clearly not his doing, he seeks to prove his innocence; his investigations lead him to a magician who helped his mother when she was sick, and Eddie is able to return a favor while clearing his name. There are a lot of gaps in the backstory here, including the single, unexplained mention of a sister, that will be difficult for younger readers to sort through, and no help is given via an author’s note or any other source material to explain to the uninitiated demon and raven are such evocative metaphors. The main story is compelling, though, and the language and illustrations are a treat. The magician’s dialogue in particular makes use of the storytelling diction of a vaudevillian showman, begging a readaloud, while the illustrations bring the adult Poe-worthy horrors to life with just the right touch of wide-eyed appeal. McCobber’s depiction is pitch perfect for an imp—enough like a decimated and bedraggled bat to be nasty but still bug-eyed enough to be adorable. Nascent fans of Poe, as well as readers who like their mysteries with a slight edge, may therefore still enjoy this. [End Page 82]



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